If you’ve been keeping an eye on the biggest names in jewellery, you might have noticed one particular concept getting more and more popular over the last few years. It’s on the high street and it’s being used by big-name fashion brands: make-your-own jewellery styles.
What is make-your-own jewellery?
The concept of make-your-own jewellery is exactly what it sounds like, but it can cover a surprisingly wide range of styles and ideas. The most famous example is the Danish company Pandora, which allows customers to buy a basic bracelet and customise it with their own choices of charms. The bracelets proved to be so popular that Pandora now also sells necklaces and rings.
There are plenty of other companies now offering similar services. Charm bracelets are hardly a new idea, but such a huge range of customisation within one particular brand certainly is. Customisation has also appeared in different ways, with jewellery companies increasingly offering alternative stone or metal colors so that customers can create something unique and tailored to their own taste.
Which companies are doing “make your own” well?
Pandora is a big name in make-your-own jewellery, but these days almost every big jewellery company is offering more design options, or allowing customers to mix and match. Some great examples are La Mer watches, who combine pre-designed watches with a design-your-own service. Lily Charmed offers subtle customisation features to help people create their perfect charm necklace. Miansai is another example of a website where customers can choose details like strap colour and metal to design a unique bracelet. A British brand creating similar bracelets to Pandora is Clogau.
Increasingly, handmade companies on websites like Etsy and Not On The High Street are also stepping in to create customised jewellery. As pieces are often made to order anyway, taking customers’ preferences into account is not too big a step.
Why do customers love it so much?
What’s not to love about getting creative and choosing exactly what you want? Offering customisation options is a great way to make customers feel involved in the jewellery design process. It attracts creative, artistic people, and people with a highly defined sense of taste. Customised jewellery is the perfect gift, especially for major events and milestones – it’s just so much more personal than buying something off the peg.
Jewellery that you create one item at a time, like charm jewellery, is also a perfect way to spread the cost of an expensive piece of jewellery. A full charm bracelet might cost thousands of pounds, which many consumers are reluctant to spend up front. But, if you buy one item at a time, the cost is spread out over months, or even years.
Tips for selling “make your own” jewellery
If you want to sell this sort of jewellery, there are a few things to bear in mind. First of all, will this be a clear and straightforward system for your customers to use? Think how effortless the Pandora system is. You want something similarly easy, or customers will be put off. If you’re selling charm bracelets, make it easy for customers to return in a few months to buy their next charm. If you’re offering customisation options, make them extensive but not overwhelming.
Tips for wearing “make your own” jewellery
If you plan to buy and wear personalised jewellery, don’t be afraid to make it completely your own! You don’t have to follow the designer’s vision – you get to create something for yourself! Choose something that is meaningful to you, whether charms to represent your favourite places, or a colour that reminds you of an amazing memory.
Jewellery is such a popular accessory that it’s no surprise certain pieces have become associated with particular clothing styles. Here are just a few examples of the jewellery worn with different clothing styles.
Bohemian (or boho) style tends to involve a lot of jewellery. Styles are often inspired by traditional tribal jewellery all over the world, from Eastern European gypsies to Middle Eastern nomads to Thai hill tribes.
Bohemian jewellery is usually made up of dramatic, statement pieces that really catch attention. Layered coin necklaces, bold turquoise rings, and stacks of colourful bracelets are all popular pieces of bohemian jewellery.
Jewellery is one of the easiest ways for people who love vintage and retro styles to buy genuine vintage items, as jewellery tends to last so well. Styles vary from decade to decade, but might include 1950’s pearl necklaces or 1960’s geometric earrings.
Sleek, minimalist style might seem the antithesis of jewellery – but the right jewellery pieces actually suit this style perfectly. Subtle pieces like sculptural necklaces, cuff bracelets or stud earrings make minimalist outfits appear elegant and well-considered rather than casual.
Pretty, girly jewellery is perfect for adding to feminine outfits. Delicate pieces, floral shapes, and dreamy-coloured gemstones all contribute to classic jewellery that sits perfectly with pretty dresses or summery outfits.
For women who love glamorous, attention-grabbing styles, jewellery is a must! Whether it’s an addition to an outfit that’s already sparkling, or a statement piece with a black bodycon dress, jewellery is the perfect finishing touch to any glamorous outfit, especially for a big night out.
As the name might suggest, trendy jewellery styles change almost as quickly as you can keep up. I can’t even tell you what they are, because they might have changed by the time you read this! For true trendsetters, jewellery is a key part of style, and an important accessory to add to any outfit.
Jewellery is especially important for trendy styles because it’s so quick and easy to update. The right piece of jewellery can make last season’s outfit look fresh and brand new!
You might think that casual style means minimum effort, and that means no jewellery. Not true! A simple necklace, a small pair of earrings, or a pretty charm bracelet are easy pieces that can be worn with absolutely everything, but still look beautiful.
Jewellery is a pretty big part of preppy style, and if it’s your kind of fashion then you probably already know the key pieces! Pearl necklaces, monogram necklaces, stacks of mixed metal bracelets, and statement watches are all hugely popular with women who love preppy style.
At the other extreme, piles of jewellery are also a major part of western or cowgirl style. Think turquoise, hammered silver, Native American influences, and as much jewellery as you can physically fit onto your body.
Just like minimalist or casual style, it’s easy to think that professional business style leaves no room for jewellery. Once again, that’s definitely not the case! While many businesses prefer their employees not to wear flashy jewellery, there are still a number of ways for jewellery to add a little sparkle to business outfits. Elegant watches are both practical and beautiful; pendant necklaces are an unobtrusive way to add personality; stud earrings don’t catch attention but still brighten up the face.
This is another style where more is better when it comes to jewellery! Studs, black, leather, spikes – or a combination of all of them! Cuff bracelets and chokers are especially popular, but all kinds of different jewellery pieces will be perfect for rock-chic style.
What kind of style suits your personality the best? And do you wear the jewellery to go with it?
Obviously, there are no rules about what jewellery you can wear – it’s totally up to you! But people do tend to follow certain patterns, wearing different jewellery styles at different ages. Your taste might not change from sixteen to sixty, or you might find yourself going through a variety of style evolutions. Here are just a few ideas for what jewellery styles to wear in the different decades of your life.
In your teens, chances are that you’ll want to wear trendy, bold jewellery, inspired by your favourite celebrities and fashion icons. Look for pieces that are fun and colourful – take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to look neat and professional! Enjoy yourself! Try out new trends by buying inexpensive jewellery on the high street, or grab fun and unusual pieces in online marketplaces like Etsy.
You might enjoy chokers, friendship bracelets, oversized rings, ear cuffs, nose piercings, and anything else fun and unusual.
This is the decade when your style might change most drastically. At the start of your twenties, especially as a student, you might still enjoy bold, dramatic jewellery. You’re probably still buying trend-led high street jewellery, but you might also be increasingly interested in classic investment pieces, like a great watch and simple pendants. For some of you, this decade might also see the appearance of engagement or wedding rings.
You might like statement necklaces, chandelier earrings, menswear-inspired watches, cocktail rings, and bold but elegant bangles.
In your thirties, chances are that your tastes will run to more sophisticated and professional jewellery than ever before, especially if you work in a corporate environment. Try sleek, metallic pieces that are timeless rather than trendy, with clean lines and subtle beauty. If you can afford it, start to invest in high-quality pieces that will last you forever.
The ideal jewellery for you might be cuff bracelets, stud earrings, sculptural necklaces and simple rings, perhaps with delicate flashes of colours like turquoise.
Many women, as they come into their forties, start to embrace their own sense of style and personality more vividly than ever before in their lives. Confidence is definitely earned, so why not show it off with bold colours and statement-making pieces full of personality and whimsy? Many women are also, by now, better off than they were in their twenties, so choose to invest in high-quality pieces and designer brands.
You might like multi-coloured statement necklaces, beaded bracelets, charm bracelets, or fancy watches.
As you move into your fifties, your style might become more relaxed and casual. This doesn’t have to mean sloppy – far from it! Women in their fifties are more elegant and refined than ever before, but in an effortless way. Continue to wear the same classic pieces that you’ve built up over the past decades, but perhaps narrow down your collection to focus on only the most beautiful items.
Try delicate pendant necklaces, layered mixed-metal bracelets and a watch, simple drop earrings – and maybe a new ring to go with your wedding ring, if you have one.
In your sixties, you will want jewellery that is simple, elegant, and understated. If you’re now retired, take the opportunity to step away from workplace-appropriate jewellery and wear something that feels more authentically ‘you’. Embrace your own sense of style and wear what you love rather than what’s currently in fashion.
You might like charm bracelets with colourful charms, or perhaps a personalised charm necklace.
Whatever your age, the important lesson is to wear whatever you love. These are guidelines, to help you if you haven’t work jewellery in decades, or feel that you don’t dress appropriately for your age. But they are only very loose guidelines! A teenager might look amazing in the jewellery I’ve suggested for a sixty-something, or vice versa. Just be yourself and have fun!
The idea of showing your identity through the jewellery you wear is an old one. So old, in fact, that it is how many groups of prehistoric people chose to display their position as part of a group. Prehistoric people also used other markers like tattoos and piercings – which, today, we tend to think of as modern!
The importance of group identity
For as far back as we can trace human history, it’s been important for people to feel like they belong. At one point, this might have been a matter of life and death. Anyone who didn’t have family and friends to protect them probably wouldn’t have survived very long!
Today, group identity is more about feeling accepted, understood, and secure. Most of us identify with a group in one way or another, even if it’s only defined by the websites we visit or the clothes we wear.
Fashion and identity
Our fashion choices are one of the key ways that we express our identity, both group and individual, to the outside world. Even if you think your clothes don’t say anything about you, they probably do! The shops you choose to buy from, the colours and patterns you wear, your accessories – they all add a little bit of information about who you are.
Some examples are more obvious than others. Goths and punks obviously use their clothes to say something about their group identity. But a mum wearing Lululemon leggings is just as much of a message in its own way!
Why is jewellery so connected to personal identity?
Jewellery is an especially powerful way to show a sense of personal identity. It can be small, unobtrusive and easy to wear every day and in any setting. Alternatively, it can be bold and obvious, making a statement all by itself.
We’ve also become used to using jewellery as a way of expressing identity. Wedding and engagement rings, purity rings, nametag necklaces, a girl’s first pair of earrings – jewellery in western culture has become very tightly linked to identity. It’s hardly surprising that so many people choose to adopt it in other ways as well!
Groups that use jewellery
It would be impossible to create a full list of all the different groups that use jewellery to show their identities – there are just too many. Some groups are clear-cut and obvious, while others are loose collections of people who might not even realise that they have anything in common.
Religious symbols – Christian, Jewish, Wiccan
Many religious groups use jewellery as a way of expressing their religious beliefs unobtrusively yet clearly. A cross for Christians, a Star of David for Jews, or a pentagram for Wiccans, are all symbols that identify a jewellery wearer as belonging to a particular religion.
Jewellery is also a powerful tool for subcultures to identify themselves. Gothic jewellery, for example, which tends to feature a lot of black, and many repeated symbols, is hugely popular with people who identify with a gothic or alternative style. It fits perfectly with similarly-styled clothes, or can be worn with more bland clothes to express identity in a subtle way.
A less obvious, but still interesting, example is the popularity of monogram necklaces. They instantly suggest that the woman wearing them subscribes to a preppy, classy sense of style, no matter what else she’s wearing.
Bohemian jewellery, made popular by travellers and backpackers, has become popular as a way of identifying as part of a particular movement or group. Wearing bohemian jewellery with an otherwise plain outfit suggests not just a sense of style but an entire lifestyle.
As you can see, not all of these people necessarily think of themselves as part of the same group as other people who wear the same jewellery. However, their jewellery choices still say a great deal about the groups they belong to, even if only subconsciously.
In terms of accessories, our necks really are spoilt for choice! The variety of necklaces is incredible, from chokers to pendants to huge statement necklaces. But that’s not all – we can also choose to wear a beautiful scarf. With so many options, how can you make a decision?
Well, one place to start is the basic question: scarf or necklace?
Why scarves replace necklaces
A lot of people choose to wear either a scarf or a necklace at one time, rather than both at once. It can be all to easy for a scarf and necklace to get tangled up with each other, which is inconvenient at best and can even damage one item or the other.
Wearing just a scarf or just a necklace ensures that the focus is entirely on your beautiful accessory. There’s less risk of looking overdressed, or having an outfit that looks too busy.
There’s also the very basic reason that a scarf covers a necklace. Why worry about making a jewellery choice when it won’t even be visible?
Wearing both at once
Of course, there’s no law that says you can’t wear both at once if you want to! Perhaps you’ll be taking your scarf off as soon as you get inside, or perhaps it’s so thin and lightweight that the necklace will definitely still show through.
Try to choose a scarf in a material that won’t catch on the necklace chain, as that can damage both the scarf and the necklace. Pick colours that look good together (or clash in a way that suits your style!) and experiment with a few different ways to style your scarf, just to see what looks best with the necklace.
If you’d still rather prefer to wear a scarf instead of your usual necklace, here are a few suggestions for scarves you could choose and how they replace your necklaces.
A long, skinny scarf wrapped or tied around the neck is a classic alternative to necklaces. In fact, some scarves are so skinny that it’s not quite clear where the boundary between necklaces and scarves lies. A sequin-covered scarf, for example, is practically a necklace!
Let one of these scarves hang down long as an alternative to a long pendant or lariat necklace, or tie it tightly around your neck instead of wearing a choker.
An eternal classic, silk scarves are a beautiful way to add colour and texture to any outfit. A square scarf is incredibly flexible and can be worn in literally dozens of ways. Here are just a couple to try:
Folded into a triangle and draped around the neck
Again in a triangle, but tied bandana-style
Wrapped around the neck pashmina-style
Rolled into a slim tube and tied around the neck – look to Audrey Hepburn for inspiration!
Tied with a knot at the front of the neck
Like with very slim scarves, wearing a silk scarf in one of these ways makes a necklace essentially unnecessary. You wouldn’t even be able to see it!
Warm winter scarves
Warm, woolly scarves or heavyweight pashminas might not be the first thing you think of as replacements for necklaces. But if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the cold, why not choose a scarf that’s a beautiful accessory and jewellery replacement? Look for bold colours and patterns, or perhaps replace your jewellery even more effectively by wearing a scarf with metallic threads or sequin details.
Do you ever replace your necklaces with scarves? Or do you wear them both at once?
The Victorian period was something of a Golden Age for jewellery. Spanning from 1837 to 1901, it saw an incredible range in jewellery techniques and styles. A boom in international connections, due to Britain’s global empire, brought new influences from all over the world. A rising middle class encouraged mass production of jewellery on a scale never before seen, while the glittering wealth of the aristocracy supported an incredible luxury jewellery industry.
While some Victorian jewellery styles, like bangles, have stayed popular over the last century, others have almost completely vanished. Here are just a few Victorian jewellery favourites that hardly ever appear in modern high street stores:
Once a staple of debutantes and courtiers, tiaras have now all but vanished – even the Royal Family hardly ever wear them anymore! Tiaras are perhaps the ultimate in luxury jewellery, instantly calling to mind the grandest fashions the world has ever seen. They still make an appearance at beauty pageants and occasional high-society events, but they have definitely lost their place as the premier item of jewellery. They enjoyed popularity into the Art Deco era, but disappeared after the Second World War. Today, the closest to a tiara that you’re likely to find in modern jewellery stores is a bohemian festival crown!
An exception here has to be made, of course, for one leading tiara wearer: the Queen, whose incredible collection of tiaras is absolutely awe-inspiring.
No self-respecting Victorian lady would ever have been seen without a brooch! Their popularity continued well into the twentieth century, but today they are found almost exclusively in antique shops. Occasionally, brooches do appear in high street stores, often attached to a particular item of clothing rather than sold on their own. More often, they are Victorian or early twentieth-century antiques.
One way in which brooches are flourishing is in the handmade jewellery market, where it has become popular to transform antique brooches into beautiful new pieces of jewellery. Brooches are also popular with certain groups of people – just think about all the pins that an alternative music-loving teenager might own!
One strange Victorian tradition which definitely did not survive up to the present day is the practice of wearing mourning jewellery. The Victorians had very strict rules about what should be worn when a member of the family died, and this included very detailed guidelines on jewellery choices. Black jewellery became hugely popular, sparking massive sales of jet jewellery, which has never quite regained the same level of popularity. Acceptable jewellery colours would then gradually change as the mourner moved into less strict later stages of mourning.
Mourning jewellery could also include personal mementos of a lost loved one. This might be a lock of hair, or an early photograph. Families might also produce matching items of memorial jewellery to hand out at funerals or memorial services. Skeleton, coffin, and skull motifs were extremely popular, often intended as macabre comments on the ever-present nature of death.
Unsurprisingly, mourning jewellery is far less popular today, as people choose rather less macabre pieces to wear!
Out of all the vanished Victorian styles, lockets are probably the style that you’re most likely to see in modern shops. While they have a long history, they enjoyed particular popularity during the Victorian period, perhaps linked to the craze for mourning jewellery. Lockets could be found on necklaces and bracelets, and even rings sometimes had opening compartments.
Which of these vanished Victorian designs do you think should make a comeback? Do you still wear any of these styles, even if they are harder to buy in shops?
Jewellery styles come and go, but animal styles remain popular almost all of the time. Most people are particularly fond of a particular animal and enjoy the chance to wear it on a piece of jewellery, especially personalised jewellery like charm bracelets. Animals often have certain associations attached to them, so wearing animal jewellery can be a statement of personality and identity. What might your favourite animal jewellery say about you?
Cats are one of the world’s most popular pets. Alongside their elegance and charm, this makes them one of the most popular animals for jewellery. Cats have extremely recognisable silhouettes, which makes them perfect for pendants and charm bracelets, as just a few sweeping lines can create a beautiful cat figure. Cat pawprints are also popular details on jewellery, and can add a cute animal touch to otherwise simple pieces.
With their connotations of wilderness and freedom, it’s no wonder that horses are so popular for jewellery. A delicate horse figure is a great way to show your love of horses and your sense of connection to the great outdoors. Horse heads are also very popular, particularly on rings and on charm bracelets, as they are an ideal symbol for small surface areas. Plus, with so many serious horse lovers out there, it’s not surprising that horse jewellery is so popular!
Dolphins are eternally popular as jewellery symbols, and have from time to time become hugely fashionable. Dolphins are associated with fun, playfulness, and enthusiasm, which makes them ideal as a statement of identity on a piece of jewellery. You may remember the dolphin rings and anklets that everyone wore in the 90’s, or you may have spotted dolphins more recently on pendants and charm bracelets.
Bugs and Insects on Jewellery
Perhaps a surprising choice given how few of us actually like insects in real life, bugs and insects are a high-fashion jewellery favourite. With their tiny bodies and bright colours, insects can look absolutely beautiful on jewellery and are especially perfect when combined with floral prints for a look that’s bright, textured, and interesting. Ladybirds and beetles are especially popular, which is unsurprising given that the real thing already looks almost like jewellery!
Butterflies on Jewellery
Worthy of their own category, butterflies are an insect type that never disappear from the jewellery world. With their beautifully colourful wings, easily recognisable shape, and endless variety, butterflies can be used on all kinds of jewellery pieces, and in many different styles. Butterflies suggest a fun-loving, playful, youthful personality, which is probably why they are so popular!
Sea Creatures on Jewellery
I’ve already mentioned dolphins, but what about all the smaller sea animals that regularly appear on jewellery? Sea-themed pendant sets and charm bracelets are common, as are necklaces covered with sea-inspired charms. Examples of the animals used include seahorses and turtles.
Birds on Jewellery
One of the most popular animals for jewellery, birds appear in all sorts of forms, and you’re bound to regularly spot birds on jewellery. Swallows, with their beautiful silhouettes and sense of freedom, make beautiful pendants. Eagles are also popular, and appear on all sorts of jewellery.
The most popular bird, though, is undoubtedly the owl. Owls hit an incredible level of popularity a few years ago, and have never quite disappeared since. They can look cute and cartoonish or serious and wise, which makes them perfect for almost everyone. We’ve seen owls on necklaces, earrings, rings, charm bracelets, and more. To be honest, there probably aren’t any jewellery types that haven’t been decorated with an owl at one point or another!
Are you a fan of animal jewellery? Which animal is your favourite to wear on jewellery?
Once upon a time, the only jewellery available was handmade. But as machine-made, mass-produced jewellery became more common, it crowded handmade jewellery out of the market. No major high street chain could provide a large enough quantity of cheap jewellery if they had to make it by hand! But, in the past few years, handmade jewellery has enjoyed a major resurgence. You might have bought handmade jewellery yourself, or even be tempted to try creating and selling your own.
The Old Handmade Jewellery
Just a few years ago, handmade jewellery was something that you only found at craft fairs, or perhaps in small gift shops. It was something of a niche interest – the kind of thing that you might buy as a novelty gift or souvenir. No doubt there have always been hugely talented people making handmade jewellery, but it was difficult for them to reach a wider audience. At the higher end of the market, in contrast, even jewellery that was made by hand did not tend to be marketed as such.
Handmade Jewellery and the Internet
The rise of internet shopping has seen a revolution in the sale of handmade crafts. Formerly tiny businesses have enjoyed incredible success thanks to fans all over the world and a vastly increased market. People who are interested in handmade jewellery no longer have to wait for a local craft fair – they can buy unique, beautiful pieces at any time of year.
Etsy, a website originally for purely handmade goods, was one of the leaders in this online revolution. While it sells almost all kinds of handmade goods you could possibly imagine, jewellery quickly became a major category on the site. As Etsy’s popularity boomed to incredible heights, so did sales of handmade jewellery.
Handmade shops have also sprung up on other platforms, as Etsy showed how viable handmade jewellery is. Many people have set up independent online shops, taking the opportunity to turn their hobby into a job. Some companies have become so successful that they are now fully-fledged businesses rather than single-person operations. Others have merged handmade jewellery with ethical trading by selling handmade goods from fairly-paid workers in developing countries.
Social media has also played a significant role in the growth of handmade jewellery. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram give small businesses a chance to reach new customers without investing in hugely expensive advertisements. Sellers can take advantage of existing fans to spread the word about their products through a wide-ranging network of people. Instagram in particular, thanks to its focus on images, has allowed many small brands to compete with big jewellery brands without anything more than some beautiful product shots. For the first time, it’s quick, easy, and free for sellers to directly connect with their ideal audience.
So, why is handmade jewellery so popular?
For the people who sell it (predominantly, but not exclusively, women), making jewellery is a fun, creative way to spend time. Actually being able to make money from something so enjoyable is a dream come true! A side job as an alternative source of income is becoming increasingly popular as a way to make a little extra money and to enjoy a creative activity outside a corporate work environment. Jewellery can be an easier craft to begin than dressmaking or millinery, but still produces very beautiful products with excellent sales potential. As such a personal item, jewellery is also perfect for creating unique pieces or adding personalised touches.
For consumers, handmade jewellery is unique and interesting. The increase in handmade jewellery has made it easier for people to buy pieces that they feel suits their own personal style perfectly, without being restricted to what is available on the high street. Handmade jewellery is also an excellent choice for people who want to shop ethically, or prefer to support small businesses rather than large retailers. Many people are happy to pay slightly more for jewellery that is unique, lovingly made, and of a high quality.
As someone with a lifelong interest in history, it’s amazing to see just how important jewellery has been for most of human history. Even more amazing? Some of the styles we wear today have been around for hundreds or even thousands of years! Simple, classic styles are some of the easiest jewellery pieces to create, so could still be made by ancient people, who had less refined jewellery-making techniques than modern jewellers.
The history of jewellery is a fascinating subject. Humans have long felt the urge to make and wear beautiful things, so jewellery-making developed early in history. Pieces of jewellery made from organic material like bone and shell began to appear as early as 100,000 years ago – a staggering length of time! Many parts of the world have jewellery that is over 40,000 years old.
It was not until about 7,000 years ago, however, that metal jewellery began to appear, with pieces of copper jewellery beginning to be made. This developed into far more advanced jewellery-making in Egypt and the Middle East, then gradually began to appear across Europe.
In western Europe, the Celts in particular came to be known for their incredibly skilled metalwork, sometimes described as “the work of angels” because it is so detailed and beautiful. Some of our modern jewellery styles can actually be traced all the way back to the Iron Age Celtic peoples of Britain and Ireland. Others draw on Anglo-Saxon or medieval traditions.
During the Iron Age in Europe, the torc became one of the most popular items of jewellery and was worn all the way from Ireland to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Essentially, a torc (also spelled torque) is a large metal neck-ring. It could be a single piece of metal, whether thin or thick, or it could be made from multiple metal strands woven together. You might have seen some of the famous British Celtic examples, which tended to open at the front. One problem that has long puzzled archaeologists is how torcs were worn – it is possible that they were designed to never be taken off!
Today, torc-influenced necklace styles are still popular, although most modern wearers opt for something more slender and subtle. Modern torcs also tend to have some sort of hinge so that they can be removed! Perhaps the famous Cartier Love bracelet, which screws onto the wrist, would be a close modern descendant of the classic Celtic torc.
Anglo-Saxon arm ring
Another piece of jewellery with surprisingly ancient origins is the simple hammered-silver arm-ring or bracelet. Today, these bracelets are enjoying a boom in popularity thanks to how easy they are to customise with stamped pictures and words. You might also have noticed twisted metal bangles appearing in jewellery shops.
These different bracelet styles are beautiful and stylish. But did you know that they were worn by Anglo-Saxon warriors? Even though, today, we tend to think of jewellery as feminine, Anglo-Saxon men used precious metal arm-rings to show their wealth and skill in battle. A successful warrior would collect an entire armful of bracelets, then perhaps distribute them as rewards to the men who served him. Most of these arm-rings were probably worn on the upper arms, although some might also have been worn on the wrist. It was a safe and convenient way to store wealth (most Anglo-Saxons used precious metals instead of coins) as well as showing wealth and good taste.
In the twenty-first century, signet rings have become almost a cliche. They are a common birthday present for teenagers, or an inheritance from older relatives. But, once upon a time, signet rings were hugely important in their own right.
The word ’signet’ is actually connected to ’signature’. When few people could read and write, most wealthy people would sign a pre-written document by stamping their signet ring into liquid wax, rather than signing their name. The wax seals could also be used to literally seal documents and letters, so that the person receiving them would know that no one else had read the contents.
Over time, signet rings came to be an important indicator of wealth, power, and family connections. Even as the practical use of signet rings disappeared, they remained a classic piece of jewellery. Today, we all recognise the shape and style of a signet ring!
Christmas may be over, but Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it! Whether you’re a man choosing jewellery for a special lady, or a jewellery seller hoping to help your male customers, this is one of the most important times of year to think about romantic jewellery. Here are a few jewellery styles which work beautifully as romantic gifts, as well as some suggestions for choosing romantic jewellery.
Of course, the ultimate in romantic jewellery is a beautiful engagement ring. What could possibly be more romantic than asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you? Engagement rings are an entire huge topic in their own right, but it’s impossible to talk about romantic jewellery without at least mentioning them!
Romantic Jewellery Styles
Exactly what counts as ‘romantic’ jewellery is always going to depend on a lady’s personal style, so looking at what jewellery she already wears is always the best way to choose a present. Having said that, there are certain jewellery classics which practically scream ‘romance’ and are bound to impress almost every lady.
Thanks to their popularity in engagement rings, their rich sparkle, and their substantial price tags, diamonds have become closely linked to romance. Diamonds are an eternal classic and always in style, which makes them a great present in a serious relationship – this is something that can be worn forever. Simple, elegant styles are best. Clear diamonds go with almost anything, or coloured diamonds can be a good bet if you know that the recipient loves a particular colour.
If diamonds are a little too expensive, there are plenty of similar alternatives, like cubic zirconia. These aren’t going to pass as genuine diamonds, but they still look beautiful and have the same classic style.
Rose gold is the trendiest metal shade of the moment, but its soft pink shade also makes it the ideal romantic gift. If roses are the best flower for Valentine’s Day, why not combine them with the metal named after them? Simple, elegant pieces are made instantly fashionable and beautiful simply by the delicate warm shade of rose gold.
Hearts and Flowers
These are perhaps the two most romantic motifs you can find on jewellery, and they are both perfect as gifts, especially for Valentine’s Day. Hearts are ideal for simple, delicate jewellery like bracelets and pendants, or even for earrings. They are sweet and straightforwardly romantic, as well as being easily adapted to almost any jewellery style.
Flowers are a little less common but are still a popular motif in romantic jewellery. Probably because flowers themselves are such common gifts, floral jewellery has come to be very popular as a present for Valentine’s Day or a birthday. Beautiful coloured stones make stunning floral shapes, or delicately engraved flowers add extra detail to bangles or lockets. Like hearts, flowers can be adapted to all sorts of styles, from elegantly minimal silhouettes to baroque-inspired roses to delicate daisies.
For another eternal classic, why not try pearls as a romantic jewellery gift? For a lady with an especially elegant sense of style, a pearl necklace is absolutely unbeatable. She will wear it for years – and always remember the man who gave it to her! Pearls are also an ideal choice for earrings, bracelets, and rings, as they are subtle and unobtrusive, yet also elegant and lustrously beautiful. With their connotations of classic style and eternal romance, pearls are a perfect gift.
What do you think is the most romantic style of jewellery? Have you ever bought (or received) jewellery as a romantic gift?