“Big girls need big diamonds.”
― Elizabeth Taylor
Let’s talk about jewelry, because this is something I thought about this past year. I don’t own a lot. My father gave me a set of pearls for my 16th birthday, and my mother gave me a peridot set for a birthday as well. My wedding jewelry is hands down the nicest jewelry I own; Jeff bought my engagement and wedding rings, and I purchased some earrings myself–which hilariously, I forgot to put in for a good portion of the day. That’s because I’ve never actually been a big jewelry wearer!
Some women are good at accessories, I am not. I often feel very unsure or awkward about wearing them, even though I know objectively that individual items are incredibly stylish or cute. It’s when I try to put them on myself that this becomes an issue! However I’ve become convinced that this is mostly a confidence problem and just because I’m not used to seeing a lot of accessories on myself in the mirror doesn’t mean I look bad in them. Ditto jewelry, whether nice or costume.
So, this was the year I decided to try and figure it out. Similar to my closet, I’ve done several rounds of edits and have ended up donating a lot of my cheap costume jewelry over the past year to really reduce the amount of unused, unloved stuff that was taking up space in my jewelry box, and then I got thoughtful and intentional about the gaps that I saw remaining when it came to my professional or day-to-day style. I’ve bought seven items in total this past year, here’s what they were:
Cheap and cheerful
Over the years I’ve either purchased or received some semi-precious items, but most of what I owned was costume jewelry. This is the year that I cleared out some cheap and fairly crappy items, and sold better quality pieces that I never wore and didn’t suit my style. As a result, what I still own I use more regularly and looks nicer, even if it’s super cheap! I bought a couple of rings for about a £1.50 each, and a silver collar style necklace for about £10 at an antiques market. Antiques shops, markets, and vintage shopping are fantastic ways to get unique items at decent prices. I also bought a pair of chunky gold hoops for a couple of pounds which were very on trend for this past year.
Mid-range (for me at least)
One of my 101 in 1001 goals was to buy a right hand ring, which always felt to me like an achievement for a grown woman. I treasure and value every single item I’ve been gifted over the years and the love and affection that they symbolize–I fully intend to gift them in turn to children, friends, or relatives someday in return–but the idea of buying a piece for myself that I had picked out and chosen for myself felt like a good goal to work for. I knew I wanted an antique piece (of course) because it would enable to me to find something that felt unique and not mass produced, and also because there are certain styles I know I love, and because savvy antique shopping can get you good value for money. I’ve been looking for the right ring for a long time and knew I wasn’t going to buy anything that didn’t hit the sweet spot of style and price. I found it at the Bermondsey Antiques Fair and I’m thrilled.
I beatiful bought these vintage pearl earrings which I shouted out in my April favorites and adore.
I also bought a delicate gold chain from a Canada based brand that I love and that does very simple jewelry across price points. It’s so slight that it’s easy to miss, but that’s exactly why I wanted it. It’s hand hammered so the links catch and reflect the light very subtly and helps make even the laziest outfit look a bit more intentional. I also got it in a shorter length so it sits higher around my neck that most chains and therefore allows me to layer it with other pieces–when I can be bothered!
None of these items are what I would call “expensive,” but they took thought and planning that I simply didn’t need for something like a £1.50 ring. In these cases, I used my personal cash budget to pay for them.
This was the year I bought a piece of jewelry that cost over £100–but as it was a sort of partial birthday, partial Christmas, and partial career celebration gift, I felt I could justify it. Also, like unto my ring, it was an item that I wanted to buy for myself. I’d long wanted a chunky, gold necklace of some kind and wanted it to feel special or unique in some way. A super vague brief! However, when I discovered this second hand and vintage designer costume jewelry seller, I started stalking her social media and shop extensively until I found the necklace I knew I wanted to get. It’s a costume piece by Chanel from the 1980s and I love it. It’s just a bit too much but I’ve wear it almost every day since buying it and whether it’s a formal work outfit or a t-shirt, it seems to work with almost everything. Another benefit of buying second hand is the ability to work with sellers. In the case of my ring, I haggled and bargained and in the case of my necklace, I agreed a payment plan to spread the costs out over a long period of time. This didn’t make the item less expensive, obviously, but it allowed me to build it into my personal monthly budget plan in a sensible way.
Et voila. That’s how this became the year that I started buying (and wearing!) jewelry properly. I’m absolutely tickled about every single item, none of them were casual purchases (not even the market rings) and all of them feel good. By which I mean, they feel like things that fit my life and style. Some of it’s cheap, some of it’s more expensive. Some of it’s sleek and modern, some of it is a bit over the top. That feels about right.
A lot of what I’ve gotten rid of and pared back over the past two years have been items purchased when I was still figuring out who I was going to be, how that person was going to dress, or even what that person actually liked (as opposed to what she felt like she should like). Similar to my closet, I own fewer pieces overall than I used to, but I actually wear almost every piece of jewelry I do own regularly (some of them every day).
I don’t intend to buy any jewelry for myself in the coming year, I’m happy with what I’ve got…even if I’m not above asking for a nice ten year wedding anniversary present!
Have you ever bought yourself jewelry? How did you select it? What’s the most meaningful piece you own? What about the cheapest? Let’s talk bling in the comments, whether gems or rhinestones!
6 thoughts on “This is the Year I Bought Jewelry”
ooooohh, dangerous topic for me…jewelry is my great weakness and I own quite a bit of it. I decided years ago to celebrate each birthday and special occasion with a ring to remember it by — when I sold my first book I bought a great sterling ring at Saks for only $75 and a small gold one from local jeweler for my second one. Haven’t done this in years, but I like attaching a memory to each piece.
I buy great costume jewelry in Paris and then wear it for years.
Most expensive? Maybe my signature piece, a man’s ring with a Gothic style C (like the NYT front page) I got at a flea market a few decades ago — maybe $375? Cheapest…not sure. I tend to buy a fair bit of jewelry, but less than before; the good stuff tends to be gifts from Jose (grey pearl studs, brown pearl and diamond drops; white pearl studs; David Yurman hoops, etc..) and I wear it a lot. None are super-trendy so I get a lot of use from them.
Love that short necklace!
I agree with you, the fashion jewelry found in Europe is superb! I always come back with certain pieces that way when I travel I don’t have to worry about losing my expensive ones.
Right? I still wear great pieces I bought in Paris in the 80s.
My most precious piece is a gold and diamond moi et toi ring. It’s old- given to me after my Nana died. The diamonds are rose cut, very old fashioned. I wear it every day!
My most expensive jewelry I purchased for myself which makes me feel like a total bad ass. I wear my diamond studs every day.
What fabulous and personal pieces. Unfortunately some family pieces that my sister and I were supposed to inherit were stolen so I don’t have those heirlooms anymore, but I hope what I own I can pass on to kids or nieces and nephews someday.
oh no! sorry to hear that. It’s so nice to be able to pass things down.