II’ve been teaching jewellery classes for over five years now and one thing I’ve noticed about my students is that they fall into roughly two categories: those who like their jewellery big and bold and those who don’t. Often, we big-boned girls like our jewellery big and bold, since that suits our body type and we can, as they say, “pull it off.” But I’ve seen lots of tiny women pull off big and bold jewellery magnificently. And that’s down to personality. An example of someone like this we all know is Iris Apfel.
I say, be yourself and wear what you want when you want. And always try something new and/or unexpected: you WILL get noticed. And more often than not, complimented.
There are so many fashion and jewellery rules too. It used to be that you weren’t supposed to mix your metals. So much for that! Mixed metal jewellery is hot. I’m sitting here writing this wearing silver rings, a copper necklace and a brass and leather bracelet. As a collection they work well.
Pearls used to be worn in sweet short strands around your neck. They were creamy, matched and carefully knotted on silk. Now pearls such as biwa pearls, stick pearls, drippy pearls, huge glass pearls and brightly dyed pearls are strung on steel wire, Beadalon wire, stretchy cord and linen thread in unconventional and beautiful designs. The picture below is a necklace I made for a TBS bead challenge several years ago featuring bead embroidered biwa pearls and river stones.
Jewellery used to match. In fact, parure is a French term for a matching set of jewellery that can be taken apart and reassembled into one long necklace or a short one with bracelets, brooches, etc. (See picture of a vintage parure below) These days, matching is not necessary. Near matches are great, or perhaps a rhythmic repetition of pattern or colour can tie your jewellery together.
And the stylists of Hollywood starlets seem to be shunning necklaces altogether on the red carpet lately. A bare and plunging neckline apparently should be clear of distraction. The bling factor comes in with long, dangling diamond earrings.
Body jewellery is fairly new to the Western style world. Delicate chains adorning ankles, torsos and the back of the hand highlight some of the most alluring parts of the body.
Adornment is as old as humans. Our ancestors drilled bone, shell and stone and strung them together, wearing jewellery to denote status. This ties us together through the ages and we wear many of the same materials today, perhaps in different ways and in combination with different materials, but with the same intent – to draw attention, look attractive to the opposite sex and show off wealth.
I guess that styles in jewellery change but the great thing about right now is that we have the freedom to break any and all of the rules for wearing and making jewellery to express ourselves and our individuality. We can find inspiration in techniques and styles from the past and find new materials and ways to modernize and individualize them.
Above all, I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to create and design for myself, for my friends, for my students and for public sale. And although I may use the same material in many of my designs, I have to say that, because they are handmade, each one is unique. And that pleases me and drives me continually to (re)create.