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Can You Make A Statement With Small, Precious Jewelry?

This post is presented in collaboration with Blue Nile

The world has embraced statement costume jewelry. It’s big, if you’ll pardon the pun. Women over 50 are often particularly told to put aside their small pieces. But what if you prefer your statements sotto voce and your jewelry precious? And, what, we ask, if you want your fine jewelry to cost less than your mortgage payment? But of course.

A few choices.

Granny Charm Bracelets

Let’s start with the biggest splurge. When my mother’s flock of grandchildren began to increase, I wanted to give her a present. Charm bracelets are traditional, but grandmother versions suffer from The Curse Of The Pony-Tailed Head. For my mother I needed to find something simpler and more architectural. I gave her a bracelet rather like this one below, but lacking the clever hinges. What a nice idea, hinges. (The site says pairs only with specific charms, but I suspect that doesn’t rules out custom findings.) Hinged charm bracelet, $1950.

Monica Rich Kosann Hinged Charm Bracelet

Over the years, for every new grandchild, she adds a simple disc engraved with the grandchild’s name. Like this, but gold. We traditionally have the jeweler add a small birthstone just below the link, and engrave the name and birthday. The fonts vary. Now that I think of it, a little more eclectic, one might just go for silver charms and mix metals.

Vintage-Look Earrings

My father had his father’s cufflinks and studs made into earrings for his 3 daughters. Ah the dinner jackets of yore. These little flowers look similar to ours, but in sapphire instead of mother-of-pearl. $455.

Stacking Rings

I’ve been wearing my proposal ring on my right hand, my 5-stone wedding ring on the left. Lately I’ve felt a twinge of desire to stack additional rings on the right. A statement finger, perhaps? The chased gold and diamond ring from my mother and stepfather, for example, along with a simple gold band from my father’s family. Add this ornamental diamond ring, $750?

Better say no, I’m too easily persuaded by sparkle.

Milgrain Marquise Stacking Ring

If I wanted a variegated stack, I’d go simpler, in rose gold.

Opera Length Necklaces And Pearl Collars

The length, and the small bead stations, give this chain visual weight. $325. Wear with other such, or a pendant, but this one would be enough. I gave my mother a similar necklace for a notable birthday. I suppose it’s unsurprising that Mom contributes a lot to a post on precious jewelry.

Bead Link Chain

Oh, and here’s a way to do pearls both big and little. @225. Jackie would approve.

Nobody has to wear precious metals and stones. But you can. No need to settle for the “basics,” no need to forfeit impact. Here’s the trick. Find that happy but elusive snap of design to elevate a piece out of the glass department store case – without a well-marketed brand name to add cost.


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50 Responses

  1. I love the idea of a granny charm bracelet… and as for stacking rings? Do check out the Piaget Possession rings for that stacked effect without the trouble of putting on/ taking off more than one ring. Classy, yet simple enough to wear every day.

  2. I’ve resurrected my old silver charm bracelet from high school in the 70’s. A Christmas present from an older sister. Luckily I have very few charms on it and so it doesn’t look junky. I love it. And that gold chain you’ve pictured above. I think that small is big again… if you get my drift.

  3. Bigger isn’t better on me! My fingers are too short to stack many rings, but I do love a nice charm bracelet. The memories associated with each charm are priceless. I think I’ll wear mine today!

  4. A little goes long way……I like your making statement with small,precious( in more than one way) jewelry! And I like your mothers bracelet. What a beautiful and meaningful gift. That’s the way I like it :-). And pearls (well,they can come in almost all dimensions)….
    I make statement with some subtle pieces and if nobody get it,their problem,no?
    And your arow to an old post reveald that we have the same LV vernis monnogram. After 5 years my handles got a little patina but I like it so. Do you wear it still from time to time?

    1. @dottoressa, If nobody gets it, exactly. And, to my regret as it turns out, I gave the LV Monogram Vernis away to a woman I knew via the Internet, in an impulsive moment. I say to my regret, because she never even thanked me for it. Completely changed my opinion about her. I didn’t want huge gratitude, a simple thank you would have sufficed.

    2. Oh,I am really sorry,I can’t believe that something like this can happen. Even with a lot of experience and my 57 years,it seems that we are a little (?!) naive from time to time :-)

  5. I’ve got the small scale beautiful jewelry. But as you know I seem to lean towards the BOLD COLORFUL STUFF. Maybe it’s the grey hair and 74 that make me need to shout at the world I’m still here!

    I also love the joy of mixing colors everymorning as I dress.
    Love the idea of that charm braelet and the necklace. You always find great style.

    1. @Sandra Sallin, Your big pieces are totally you. And, in 15 years, maybe I’ll go big too. It’s a really valid point, that we change and our self-ornamentation needs change over the years.

  6. I’ve got a granny gold charm bracelet on which I wear diamond hearts…I haven’t worn it in awhile and you’ve reminded me that I need to pull it out and put it on!
    I like the idea of having cuff links made into earrings…how clever.
    It’s interesting to me how many women of a certain age gravitate to those bold and bulky statement pieces…they grab one’s attention…so perhaps they make us no longer invisible?

  7. Because of allergies, I can only wear sterling or 18K (or platinum, lol). I have tiny ears and a small “ear area” (check out Bridgette Raes on how to size earrings–and where the flattering points are for necklaces)and average to small eyes. I wear only earrings smaller than a quarter, if that. On the other hand I am large, so proportionally, tee-ninesy necklaces look out of balance, so I wear moderate sized pendants on thicker (like David Yurman wheat chain thickness) chains, except when I wear my Yurman oval link and chunky enhancer for more important events.

    1. @Kathryn Fenner, I imagine the pendants look wonderful. I’ve been tempted by the recent trend for tassel jewelry – only, of course, I’d want a gold tassel with strings of seed pearls hanging down…

  8. My mom has a few pairs of cufflinks turned earrings – very deco.

    I love my charm bracelets, but small they are not. Nor are they quiet.

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, You could fill it up in a minute! I will say, my mother’s bracelet is just beautiful. And it’s not noisy, for some reason. Something about the small discs, maybe their regular shape and lightness? They don’t clang much at all. And the grandchildren loved to go through them reading names, 12 in all, including my stepfather’s side and my mother’s side both.

  9. Love my charm bracelets, one gold, one silver. The gold one is ancient with big charms, the silver is newer with smaller charms. Of course they are not worn at the same time. Unfortunately, they are both a little noisy.

  10. Hi Lisa, I very much enjoyed reading this post and the jewellery selections are all pieces I would love. I am always surprised how reasonable precious jewellery in the States is priced compared to Australia. Given my antipodean lifestyle and my fascinated with Northern Hemisphere turns of phrase, I cannot visualise “the curse of the pony-tailed head” and what it represents. Usually I am pretty good at picking up meaning. If its a curse it sounds like something to be avoided. Please let me know. Also here Pandora bracelets stacked with charms are popular. I was fascinated when I met someone who had a stacked charm bracelet and expected that the charms had been acquired over time but only to find out they bought in one shop. I wondered what was the point. Your mother’s bracelet is much more meaningful. very best Yvonne

    1. @Yvonne, Oh, my apologies! They sell charms for mothers and grandmothers to wear, in the shape of children’s heads. Like this, I know Pandora bracelets are very popular, but it’s not a phenomena I’ve engaged in, kind of like scrapbooking.

    2. @Yvonne, I completely agree with both your sentiments on Pandora charms and scrapbooking is a great analogy. Thank you for the link to the children’s head charms as explanation. Yvonne

  11. I love big statements, but always find myself with simple, often small-ish pieces… I do have 4 stacked rings, though! my own wedding, my Mom & dad simple gold bangs, and an antique rose-gold my Mom had in her drawer. love stacking bracelets next to watch, too… it’s that clinking noise makes me feel sophisticated… :)

  12. Love the idea of turning cufflinks into earrings. I remember my mother sending her broken gold chains and bits and bobs that she no longer wore and had them turned into a wonderfully modern looking chain that my father’s jeweler client designed for her. 40 years later, I saw an almost identical design to it on Tiffany’s web site. I suppose there are only so many things one can do with a chain design wise.

  13. I have a lot of my own particular things about jewelry on me. I don’t like “statement” pieces, but yet, I like layering of necklaces, rings, or bracelets (only one area at a time though) – so it’s sort of a statement that way? I also wear more jewelry when I’m dressed in jeans than when I’m going to something dressy – I like the contrast I guess, and also I find too much jewelry with dressy clothing a bit geriatric. As you know, I’m a huge Pippa Small fan and love that rainbow necklace in your shop.

    1. @Kathy, A very artist way of wearing jewelry, seems to me. And I agree, with fancy clothes, it can be really fun to wear almost no jewelry at all. Dramatic.

  14. I like some of these small things, especially the earrings now that my hair is very short again and I am wearing small studs again. I sometimes go for statements, and sometimes just want something small like the long necklace you show. I tend to wear more jewelry with jeans: dressing up I either prefer very little, or something simple but handmade and rustic, otherwise I feel like my grandmother resurrected.

  15. I love “meaningful” jewelry. Pieces that make you smile thinking of the loved ones whose names and birthstones are dangling from your charm bracelet, or of your father when you catch a glimpse of your earrings in a mirror. Sigh. Love the pearls and look forward to photos of your stackable rings!

  16. MY GRANNY had a charm bracelet like that in SILVER with all HER grandchildren on it and NOW I have it!I remember sitting on her lap and I would love to rub the round silver disks with my fingers………..I have NO Idea where I have stashed that!Because of YOU I will do a SEARCH TODAY and perhaps start wearing it!Amazing how we get attached to jewelry.Your picks are beautiful here.The fact the cufflinks were turned into earrings is SO SO SPECIAL…………thanks for sharing!

  17. I’m “big-boned,” as they say, (Come to think of it, that’s what my niece called her fat cat…) so tiny jewelry looks list on me unless I layer it. But I do have a few precious piece that I wear, such as my [Grechen enabled] Melissa Joy Manning hugs, my Helen Ficalora initial necklace in gold, and my wedding band, which belonged to my husband’s grandmother, along with a lively Tiffany diamond (that my large bones are struggling to fit into these days!).

    But big stuff isn’t my thing anymore.

  18. I love all of these! My favorites are the more simplistic earrings; they’re small and subtle, yet beautiful and unique. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this!

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