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Jewelry Basics and Beyond

The only “right” way to grow your jewelry collection is your way. Learn about your style by picking through your jewelry box.

There are two ways of thinking about how to build your jewelry wardrobe.

One is to fall in with the “classic” camp, which says, “pick pieces that are timeless.” That includes a versatile, sophisticated watch, several strands of pearls at different lengths, a simple gold chain (or five), a pair of diamond hoop or stud earrings, a medium-weight gold chain bracelet and perhaps a signet ring. These are considered the jewelry essentials.

The second is the “pick what thrills me” camp, which is where fewer women place their loyalties. Classic sounds boring to them. If everyone is wearing it, why should they?

If you’re a woman for whom “classic” is it, in paragraph two you have your list of six pieces of jewelry to go out and collect. But consider hanging around if you want to see how the other 20% lives — those girls out on a limb looking for zing and bling and fun.

Building a jewelry wardrobe should be about displaying and enhancing your personal style. Who am I at the core? What do I want my clothing, my accessories, my jewelry to tell the world? What do I want them to tell that hot waiter?

Most women don’t build their jewelry wardrobes from scratch. We receive gifts as children — maybe religious medals that remind us of important steps in life, maybe tiny gold chains that no longer fit the neck but are too long to be bracelets. You probably have a few of these hanging out in your jewelry box.

Some women are attracted to head-turners and the simply unique. Pieces of jewelry you’ve never seen before and will never see again. Perhaps a tarnished silver skull ring sits in your jewelry box next to a 5-carat amethyst ring your grandfather gave your mother when she was young. Maybe you’re not sure why you bought that really creepy cameo in the lower drawer, but you can see it was a part of who you once were.

Your style may be built over time and come from many sources:

  • A love of the Southwest: A crazy-gorgeous Navajo squash blossom necklace you never wear but adore looking at.
  • A love of cats: You may have gone crazy with some cat-lady pins.
  • A love of sailing: More than a few anchors and compasses on gold and silver chains.
  • A love of layering: You may be able to dress up as “the treasure” for Halloween, practically unable to move under the layers and layers of mismatched long necklaces from a couple of decades of collecting.

These are just a few possibilities when going beyond the jewelry basics. What are your passions? Where do you like to go on holiday? What reminds you of the best times ever? Do you have a favorite color, metal, gemstone? Are you into Steampunk? Do you like pranks? Ask yourself questions like these to get at your jewelry style.

People (those classics folks) suggest balance in what you purchase, but if you hate bracelets, don’t buy them or ask for them. If you love necklaces, go deep and get long ones you can double and triple up.

If you’re hard on your hands and use them a lot, maybe you don’t need too many rings. On the phone all day for work? Get earrings that don’t interfere with your phone or headset.

So poke around your jewelry collection to see what you love, and what you want more of. Be who you are. Don’t be afraid to tell your story in a sparkly tanzanite signature necklace, a hammered gold cuff, a delicate vintage fleur-de-lis ring or earrings that feature smoking coffee cups. If it’s you, let it shine!

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