My first accessory love was handbags. I hoarded Coach – the classiest of leather and vinyl goods, friends – as a teenager. I collected them for every birthday and holiday, and saved up all my babysitting money to spend on brightly colored bags with C’s all over them. In college my tastes matured to the more demure all over monogram of Louis Vuitton. In a reflection of my truly unique and one of a kind style, my first Louis was the Speedy 35 that Every Girl On Campus also brought to class (impractical), Happy Hour (why on earth?), and shopping (again, hands free was a foreign concept.) At my first big girl job I realized there was a world beyond Steve Madden and Tory Burch footwear, and a minor dalliance as a young lady who lived in her shoe(s) began. Carrie Bradshaw I’m not, but Jimmy Choo still speaks to my soul (you’re welcome for avoiding the pun I really wanted to use.)
Then I landed the Grail of accessories jobs. My day revolved, suddenly, around fine jewelry. I was no stranger to Tiffany or David Yurman, as is the custom of my people. But diamonds I knew nothing about. Van Cleef & Arpels, Bvlgari, vintage Gucci, Hermes bangles, Harry Winston, Graff and Fred Leighton treasures enchanted me for life, and now neither I nor my boss will ever live down/forget the time I won an entry level designer bracelet at a gala and scoffed. I had become a jewelry snob, the transformation was complete.
Un pequeño problema though – I am not a Rockefeller. So this is just something I wear around the office on casual Tuesday. IRL, I spend 90% of my time in yoga pants, and while I’ve acquired a few treasures since starting at Raymond Lee, I still love costume jewelry. And today’s costume jewelry is a far cry from Claire’s. There are some fabulous brands combining precious metals with bright enamel, druzy with alternative metals, and quality craftsmanship with to-the-minute currency. I hesitate to call some of these costume, and most of these brand prefer the term fashion jewelry. These are my top 10 go-to’s for really beautiful pieces for everyday wear, or when the earrings I’d like to borrow from RLJ exceed my insurance policy.
No one nails fast jewelry like Bauble Bar. You can find the hottest jewelry trends at ridiculously reasonable prices, and their selection is next to endless. They’re always adding new pieces to their excellently designed & easy to use site. And, recently, they’ve expanded into fine jewelry options for some of their pieces, stepping up from gold plated sterling to 14 karat options with diamond pave. They also offer discounts all the time, so their prices are even better.
Her earrings are my go to for a jolt of color, and I love every subtly different shape she designs. They look incredibly similar to the slice jewelry we occasionally carry at a fraction of the cost. I like the earrings that mimic natural stones, not the neon or iridescent ones that can skew grade school pretty quickly, though the abalone shell pair always catch my eye. The chalcedony pieces are reliably my favorites, and a 14kt gold plate means these earrings won’t turn your lobes a disgusting shade of 3-day-old bruise.
I’ve written about Dannijo before, and I love this sister act’s edgy, modern fashion pieces. They’re fantastic for completely transforming any outfits, and no one does a spiked bib necklace like Dannijo. They are pricey, but use Swarovski, not plastic, and you’re paying for their design aesthetic, not the materials themselves. They’re pieces to add to a well-rounded jewelry collection that includes a mix of fine and fashion.
In this joyful season of life, my friends, acquaintances and third cousins are getting engaged and married left and right. It’s very exciting, often tortuous for one engagement ring conspirator who can’t tell ANY of our mutual friends, and has really improved my jumpingupanddownsquealing skills in a way no one has since Hanson. It also warrants some celebratory little gifts, and there’s no one I turn to faster than my girl Kate. I love her ring holders for newly engaged ladies who want to keep their rock sparkly, and I adore the cute wedding themed pieces from the Wedding Belles line. Whether it’s a little “Mrs.” piece, a bridesmaid bangle, or the perfect statement necklace to update the 6th time I’ve worn my little black dress this wedding season, Kate’s got me covered.
I’d be remiss (and no longer welcome at Bicé) if I didn’t mention this Palm Beach staple. Based in NYC, nothing says “I’ve been shopping the vias all day and just need to rest my Pulitzer-clad feet at The Colony quickly, darling” like a stack of Cartier & Sequin enameled bamboo bangles on your wrist. They’re colorful, solid, and a great way to announce to the world that you will never stop wearing pastels, even if it is January, dammit.
Kenneth Jay Lane
I love me some KJL. Overstated, bold, and really, the original name in high end fashion jewelry, Kenneth Jay Lane pieces are collectibles. Whether you’re looking for Art Deco flair or contemporary pieces, these are beautiful accessories you’ll have for a lifetime.
Well made, beautiful, and classic. J. Crew jewelry does burnished brass very well, and their crystal pieces always catch my eye. It’s one of my favorite places to shop for jewelry, and definitely some of my favorite jewelry to receive. It’s also very easy to use their sparkly but understated pieces as coordinating bridesmaid jewelry, which I’ve done in the past, been gifted by a bride, and will very likely do again in the future. I like to wait for their regular sales and discount codes, because they do tend to be at the higher end of the price scale for plate, crystal and plastic pieces.
Alex & Ani
Need a way to commemorate the US Olympic sledding team? Done. Want to pair the Eye of Horus with an ode to St. Maarten (the place not the Saint, though they’ve got them too) but also show your love of University of South Carolina? Alex & Ani have you covered. I like the copper finish charm bangles best, and they’re very inexpensive, sweet gifts.
I love these bangles. They’re brass dipped in 24 karat yellow gold, so they have this gorgeous, rich yellow hue that pops against semiprecious teardrop ends. They’re perfect for stacking, and come in a large variety of colored semi-precious stones, like chalcedony, striated amethyst, labradorite, druzy, and more. And all under $100.
I found this sweet jewelry line on Instagram, and fell hard for their druzy pendants. They’re fun and eye catching, and casual enough for everyday wear. The navy blue druzy always grabs my attention, and it’s the perfect little trinket at $38 (you can’t beat that!) and on a 20″ rose gold plated chain it’s the perfect pendant length over a henley blouse or button down.