How to Wear Statement Jewelry

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Mary Hood | 3 Comments

Sometimes we want to go beyond simple studs and wedding bands--way beyond. Whether it's dramatic chandelier earrings, a glittering diamond tennis bracelet, or layers of pearls, we all have a statement jewelry sweet spot.  It isn't difficult to find a piece that makes your heart beat a little faster.  The real challenge, however, can be figuring out how to make the right statement with your dazzling jewels.  Most of us would like to channel "sophisticated with the perfect touch of glamour" rather than "overeager twelve-year-old playing in Mom's jewelry box."  It can be a fine line.  

When in doubt, it's a good idea to stick to the Rule of One: Choose one statement piece and build the rest of your outfit around it.  Your outfit should be as simple as the piece is flashy.  Go for solid colors or very basic patterns (black is usually a safe choice) and clean tailored lines.  If you wear any other jewelry, keep it subtle, a quiet accent to the rest of the outfit. The idea is to make sure nothing competes with the star of the show--that brilliant sapphire necklace (or whatever dramatic piece you're sporting).

(This same principle may also be adapted to everyday wear.  As the little saying in fashion goes, "take one piece off before you walk out the door."  Sometimes rings + stacked bracelets + earrings + necklace = everything getting drowned out by everything else!)

Here are a few vintage fashionistas making powerful statements with powerful jewelry: 

Elizabeth Taylor wears a magnificent diamond tear drop necklace.  Her simple white dress and pearl studs allow this piece to steal the show (that is, of course, if you're not counting her legendary face).

Although more hair piece than jewelry, the same principle allows Audrey Hepburn's unique adornment to make an uninterrupted artistic statement. 

Jackie Kennedy Onassis wears three layers of pearls in this photo. Her charming V-neck peach dress accents this more simple statement jewelry. Although a few strands of pearls may seem pretty basic, when worn with an outfit like this, they're the embodiment of classic elegance. 

Marilyn Monroe makes a sweet and sexy statement with a little black dress and pearl strand earrings. Free of other jewelry, this ensemble is at once classy and innocent. 

In this still from To Catch a ThiefGrace Kelly wears a glittering necklace with a romantic scalloped design. Truly a look fit for a princess. 

Twiggy keeps it fun with a striped dress and large, orange bobble earrings. Their color is echoed in the dress, keeping the look simple and streamlined. 

But sometimes rules are meant to be broken! In the photo below, Babe Paley wears stacks of pearls on both her neck and wrist--plus she's wearing a pretty hefty, gem-laden ring.  This certainly breaks the Rule of One. Notice, however, that Paley's dress is incredibly simple, allowing the decadent jewelry to remain the center of attention.  Also, the pearls mirror each other and act as more of a set rather than two competing pieces. 


Whatever piece speaks to you, find a way to let it shine at its best.  Remember: start with the dramatic piece and cleverly build around it.  

Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs, thefoxling via Flickr, fred baby via flickr, Sacherverelle via Flickr, Antonio Marin Segovia, Laura Lovejoy via Flickr

Posted in celebrities, fashion, fun, jewelry, statement jewelry, style, style icons, tips, vintage



3 Responses

Mary Hood
Mary Hood

February 22, 2015

I love them all :) If only I could pull off layered bracelets like Babe Paley!


February 19, 2015

My fave is Twiggy, absolutely love her swinging sixties style! Love your ideas about boutique jewellery too, it really is best to stick to a minimal outfit and let your statement piece do all the talking. Thanks for the advice!


May 21, 2014

I absolutely love Grace Kelly’s take! It’s so timeless :)

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