I got a request quite a while ago now on Instagram for a post that did an overview of my jewelry collection, so here it is! I’ll go over what I have, what I think about when I look for pieces, and how I style them.
These are all screenshots from my Airtable base – learn more about it at Wardrobe Tracking. Click the screenshots to open them at full resolution in a new tab.
I was pretty surprised at how few jewelry pieces I have. 26 pieces total, if I count the rings I bought as sets as a single item (I’m too lazy to track individual rings and I consider them mostly interchangeable).
Earrings are my favorite type of jewelry, and I have the most of those by far. I love the set-and-forget, unlike bracelets clacking on a desk while you type or rings that require drying after hand-washing.
My favorite earrings are definitely the half-hoop fake gauges. They go with casual to formal things and are a little edgy while still being understated. I think these were like $8 on Forever 21 so I bought 2 backup pairs in case I broke or lost the original ones (which are actually currently missing one half of an earring that skidded away in my bedroom when I was taking them off in the dark and I haven’t managed to find yet).
“Ear jackets” are my favorite category of earring. These earrings have a third component the slips onto the post on the backside of the ear, sandwiched under the backing. They come in all sorts of fun shapes:
I never wore rings until last year due to a combination of feeling like they were too extra for me and not finding ones that I liked and fit. By the middle of 2018 my wardrobe had progressed quite past leggings and jersey tunic tops with flip flops so I felt a lot more comfortable wearing more blingy accessories after acquiring structured and textured clothing.
I had a lot of photos on Pinterest of hands decked out in multiple rings, so I decided that getting some mix-and-match sets would be the way to go. I specifically looked for ones that had “midi rings” which sit above the first knuckle for even more multiple-ring fun.
I find necklaces more difficult to wear than earrings and rings because I need to take into account how they’ll interact with necklines. As such, I have a few basic pendants that don’t get worn too much.
The silver pendant has a lot of wears I think mostly because it was my go-to when I was still in my minimal-goth/witch style phase. I haven’t been drawn to it as much in the past couple of months, especially after realizing that the hand doorknocker is most likely a charm the vendor just gets from aliexpress and then assembles onto the longer stick piece to make the pendants. I get that it’s still work to do that, but I felt that the vendor was misrepresenting themselves as a totally-handmade-I-carved-the-wax-to-cast-the-molds-myself sort of brand while there is an identical item on various cheap retailers 😒 Now whenever I see it I feel extra dumb because I already knew that this is something that commonly happens and for some reason I didn’t do a check for this piece. Do your research, kids.
“Is this just re-packaged stuff or actually artisan-made-from-scratch art?” checklist:
- Does the exact same item or items with the same components appear on etsy, ebay, and/or amazon? (Mostly this. The other things are definitely not always indicators that a brand is just repackaging stuff, but when taken together, is probably a sign they are)
- Are there really fancy pendants pieces, but the rest of the jewelry is really simple? i.e. pendants just strung on a chain or attached to an earring back?
- Do they not show anything about the creation process?
- Are the pendant/fixing items vastly different styles? Like the shop didn’t even attempt to curate a cohesive brand?
And that’s why I’m generally wary of buying indie stuff at faires, etc. I’ve noticed a lot of it looks the same, so I figure I might as well just shop online where I have time to be more sure of what I’m getting.
On the other end of things, I think Modcloth is also pretty well-known for marking stuff way up that’s easy to find elsewhere online. For example, on their site right now:
Meanwhile, on ebay:
My current go-to necklace is this double-layer celestial themed one. The chains are attached to the same lobster clasp which means they don’t move around as much.
Although the coolest piece I have is probably this “fallen petals” necklace from Madewell, which has articulated petals.
I don’t wear it much but I like having the ceramic necklace for when I want a non-metallic option. I’m pretty sure this is the oldest thing in my wardrobe – one of my friends gave it to me either for Christmas or my birthday back in elementary school.
Bracelets and Watches
I’m sitting around typing at a computer most of the time, so I usually don’t wear anything on my wrist unless it’s my watch, which is very fitted (if you have tiny child wrists like me, the basic Timex Easy Reader watch is great for the price).
I have a hard time finding bracelets that fit that aren’t literally from the kids section (and look it). The silver one here has a cool design but is too big and tends to flop around. The gold cuff is stretchy and fitted but a little too loud to wear with my everyday clothes. So it ends up that I usually only wear bracelets when I’m going somewhere fancy like a holiday party or watching a ballet.
Where/how do I shop for my pieces?
Where do I buy things from? What details do I look for in different types of jewelry?
The main thought I have around buying jewelry is that I’m in a high-iteration phase of my wardrobe and therefore things need to be cheap. I am not going to shell out for fine jewelry unless it is a piece that I know
- I am going to wear a lot
- won’t get tired of
- am unlikely to lose
- and will degrade much more slowly than a super cheapo piece
And at this point in my life, I don’t trust that my tastes won’t change dramatically a year from now, so I don’t think it makes sense to drop a lot of money on fine jewelry. If I have settled into a style for a few years then I would be more inclined to get fancier things (like this stuff from Catbird).
Nice-to-haves include getting something secondhand or from an indie brand, but generally I find that it makes more sense to put things that will make the piece attractive and practical first before all the ethical stuff, because otherwise it’s the trap of buying something that is “better” and then never wearing it.
I’ve mostly been drawn to fairly classic pieces with witchy motifs (it’s a great finishing touch when I’m aiming for my usual storybook style aesthetic) but I do like to have the occasional generically trendy item or themed piece, especially for holidays. I try to only buy pieces that would aesthetically fit in with everything in my usual rotation so mix-and-matching doesn’t require any brainpower.
However, I’m interested in expanding to some more generally funky-artsy-looking pieces in anticipation of bringing back t-shirts-and-blue-jeans outfits when the weather gets warmer (see Dividing A Wardrobe Into Style Sub-Capsules for more on that). I’ve been looking at getting something from Alchemilla (a brand carried by some local boutique I went into once), but the main thing stopping me is decision paralysis 😬
Stores I shop from
The majority of my pieces are costume jewelry tier and from Forever 21 or ASOS. For more interesting pieces, Etsy can be great (one store I’ve been eyeing is Almanac for June), but you’ll need to dig through a lot of junk as well as validate that the item cannot be had for a tenth of the price on ebay/amazon/aliexpress.
- material and cost – I like gold-plated when I can get it because it doesn’t tarnish as aggressively as the most cheapo of costume jewelry, although I still prefer to spend <$100 per piece, preferably <$30, especially for rings. I don’t know how people wear soft metals for rings. Every one of the multiple doors I encounter on a daily basis at my apartment and office have stainless steel doorknobs, and my rings are all scratched up on their backs from them.
- motifs – naturalistic botanical designs, eyes, hands, claws, snakes, sun and moon… generally witchy sorts of motifs but not quite to the point of being boho. E.g. no raw crystal pendants or feathers.
- design elements – antiqued style over clean and classic or futuristic styles, more sculptural/3D rather than graphic style
- size – it can be hard to tell the scale of a piece from a stock photo where it’s just on a plain background. I make sure to check for photos on a person or the provided measurements.
- doesn’t make noise
- won’t snag on things (like my precious sweaters!)
- Lobster clasps only – I have no patience for fiddling with pretty much any other kind of closure
- If there is a pendant, check that it’s an actual pendant threaded onto the chain and not a bead or charm that is attached directly into the chain. If it’s a part of the chain, if the necklace is lightweight it will likely shift throughout the day so the statement bead is not centered. I bought a necklace like this once and it was infuriating.
- Adjustable length is great
- Not too heavy – if it visibly makes my earlobes sag, it’s a nope. Learned I don’t like heavy ones this after one pair of heavy silver statement chandelier earrings. Also don’t want to have a sagged out piercing hole 30 years from now.
- Nothing that will thwack against my face/neck in the course of normal movement
- Does the back of the earring look consistent? Doesn’t mean it has to be super detailed, but if the earring is a dangly style with antique texturing on the front, is the back also textured somehow or is it just smooth?
- Do they face the side or the front? I prefer earrings that face the front because I like to be able to see them in the mirror and straight-on photos of my face.
- Has an actual backing closure and is not just a hook
- I rarely buy these because I wear a lot of long sleeves which would cover them + I have tiny wrists so most things are too big. But I find I prefer medium-visual-weight cuffs similar in width to my watch.
Edit: Whoops, forgot to do this section. Adding it a day late after I was reminded of it when someone asked me to elaborate on some shopping details for rings.
Mostly I follow the general guidelines, but with rings in particular, I like to look for pieces with gold plating or an antiqued finish. Costume jewelry looks really garbage really fast as it tarnishes and scratches, and I find that just having an old look to begin with makes any additional scratches and tarnishing less jarring. There are a bunch of guides online on how to polish up costume jewelry or even get it plated, but I haven’t looked into that yet. For the most part, I figure no one is going to notice the undersides of my rings and I don’t seem to be allergic to the metals, so I just keep wearing my old cheapo pieces.
How I Style Things
Since I’ve focused on making a stylistically cohesive collection, IMO the pieces all go with each other so I will just throw them on randomly in some rotation. I already have a hard enough time styling base outfits without considering accessories, so I enjoy just being able to toss on random pieces and feel a little fancier without having to think about it. I don’t also have any pieces that could really be considered “statement” – as in are clearly visible from the medium distance that I take my outfit photos from. So it isn’t a big deal if they are a bit eclectic anyway.
I don’t mind mixing metals across different categories at all, although I wouldn’t say I make it a point to do so. I have a similar philosophy around that as I do for mixing navy+black or brown+black – the colors should be different enough that it doesn’t look like you could have paired things on accident but were trying to match them. At any rate I have silver glasses so if I wanted to avoid mixing metals I’d be stuck with just silver!
However I do prefer not mixing metals when wearing multiple rings. On average I probably wear three rings a day (over both hands – if I’m Going Out then I’ll probably up it to five) and I don’t otherwise consider trying to coordinate styles of the rings, so at least keeping the color consistent adds some amount of cohesion. My collection is pretty varied in terms of ring chunkiness and texture, but I find that when browsing other photos of stacked rings, I do think it looks better when the rings aren’t super matchy in terms of shape.
A few examples of outfits and the jewelry I chose for them. As you can see, they are not really visible at a distance (especially with the lighting + phone camera combo I use), but they do make me feel a lot nicer and more ✨magical✨
Anyway, that’s my brain dump for anything related to my jewelry collection. Hope that was interesting and/or helpful! What type of jewelry is your favorite? Do you find your taste in jewelry changes slower than in clothes? Let me know in the comments!