I am about to make a truly egregious High WASP comment. Jewelry, when made of precious stones and precious metals, is never in absolute bad taste. One can wear it badly, inappropriately, rudely, meanly, stupidly. But the jewelry itself is never at fault.
Nobody could really question the tastefulness of the above pieces. Sure, the earrings are a serious lot of diamonds, but you know, opening at the opera, the visit of the Ambassador, the day they dedicate your hospital wing, it’s OK. The fleur-de-lis is a little heavy on the flower vs. the de lis, but it’s Victorian and they came by flourishes honestly. Scandinavian anything is by nature tasteful. The pieces below, however, you might think were outside the High WASP pale.
Nothing could be further from the truth. High WASPs think each of those pieces is in perfectly good taste, when worn correctly. The enameled panther could be worn with jeans and a black tshirt to a gallery opening. The brooch is fine on the lapel of a jacket worn to Thanksgiving at Mom’s. When else can you show off that stuff? And Hello Kitty. Worn to work with a button down white shirt, perfect. Trust me. I own it.
High WASPs can go way further than Hello Kitty when it comes to jewelry. These pieces below? No eyelash would be batted. Again, worn either minimally, jeans, white shirts, all black. Or over the top. Wear lots and lots of this kind of stuff and it’s always clear you have your tongue in your cheek. Which is the savior of most kinds of taste-based faux pas.
The thing is, jewels and precious metals are innately pretty to people. To most animal species in fact. Magpies adorn their nests with sparkly paper. We pay so much for jewels because we find their sparkle and color irresistible, and because we think they are hard to get. Oh, I know, De Beers. I know. But De Beers couldn’t have done that with lumps of coal. We hunger for sparkle. I don’t know why.
This doesn’t, of course, mean that there can’t be ugly jewelry. Oh yes, there can be ugly jewelry. To wit, in my opinion.
But if good taste is in the hands of society, ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Someone might think that goat is beautiful. Or that the ring with bulbous blue sapphires is gorgeous. They might think that the necklace doesn’t actually look like gobs of toothpaste fell off your brush in the morning and landed around your neck. As far as ugly goes, to each his or her own. Good taste, on the other hand, you are going to have to wrench out of the hands of High WASPs on our collective deathbed. And if you know otherwise, don’t tell us. It would break our hearts.
(Caveat. I plead the fifth on what we used to call costume jewelry. I don’t have enough style to reliably carry it off.)
Tasteful: Diamond earrings, pearl pendant, Georg Jensen bracelet
Gaudy: Panther bracelet, jeweled brooch, Hello Kitty
Over The Top: Medusa (via Stella’s Roar), equestrian charm necklace, Bucellati ring
Ugly: Goat, toothpaste necklace, sapphire ring