Fine jewelry trends tend to stick around for a while. You won’t find fashion’s revolving door of “wear this, not that” mandates. There is more allowance for expressions of personal style and taste.
But conversations are always happening around certain categories of fine jewelry, and insiders can usually point to a few pockets of increased popularity to inspire collectors and help dealers and retail buyers make inventory choices for a particular season.
This year, as some remote employees begin reentering office environments and, thanks to the vaccine, opportunities for safely gathering outside the home increase, the reigning jewelry trends express two distinct mindsets. One is defined by an unalloyed optimism that prompts an urge to mingle and celebrate (safely, of course). For fall, this outlook will manifest in extravagant jewels awash in vibrant, almost electric color or in head-turning, glamorous gold statement pieces. Basically, a jewelry bacchanal.
The other mindset tempers the impulse to rejoin the world with an inclination to stick with now familiar habits: comfortable clothes, minimal makeup, a dormant social diary and a simpler, slower pace to life in general. This attitude is evidenced in a shift toward wearable jewels suited to a more casual lifestyle and personal storytelling or toward important signed pieces that will remain relevant 20 years from now.
Below is a rundown of the fine jewelry trends to keep on your radar in the coming months. Feel free to mix and match them. Because aren’t we all seesawing between a yearning to swing from the chandeliers and a longing for the comforts of a quieter existence? Even the most committed social butterfly can appreciate the need for a night in with Netflix.
It’s not that the use of enamel in fine jewelry is new. The heritage brand Fabergé practically invented it, favoring guilloché enamel for its luxurious patterned sheen. And the house of Cartier often worked the lustrous material into its Art Deco–period designs.
But instead of old-world gravitas or French super-sophistication, modern-day enamel is intended to lend fine jewels a note of playfulness and incorporate hues that can’t be found in nature — for example, bright acid green or shocking pink.
Designs featuring enamel also have a graphic quality, like the color blocking in this cocktail ring by Charlotte Allison or the starkly contrasting geometric pairings of black enamel, gemstones and diamonds in Andrew Glassford’s pieces.
Two words: Elsa Peretti. The famed designer’s death this past spring rekindled the world’s fascination with her sculptural, minimalist pieces, whether her iconic bone cuffs or her drapey mesh necklaces. Further fanning the passion for Peretti is Netflix’s limited series Halston, which premiered last May, with its portrayal of the 1970s friendship between the jewelry designer and the titular character.
The show depicts the era’s New York City jet set as wildly glamorous (and debauched), and the fashion-minded are snatching up vintage Halston wherever they can. And to accessorize the attire, what better than eye-catching yellow-gold jewelry like door-knocker danglers, serpentine torques, exaggerated curb-link chains, chunky rings and piles of bangles?
Another 1970s designer to invest in, or to influence your fall jewelry choices, is Aldo Cipullo (of Cartier Love and Juste un clou bracelet fame). The recent publication of a book celebrating his work has reignited the appetite for Cipullo designs and their no-name derivatives from the disco era — all sleek, graphic and discreetly sexy, with a luxurious, substantial feel.
Need another reason to buy into the ’70s-inflected gold trend this fall? House of Gucci, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, is due out in November.
If a solid gold ’70s look is too much to commit to, opt instead for what has become a new jewelry wardrobe essential: the paper-clip chain. Offered in a variety of sizes and lengths and characterized by slightly squared-off, elongated links, the easy, lightweight strands are perfect for the foundation of a carefully curated “neck mess” of piled chains or for adding a subtle shine to any outfit — yoga attire included.
The link shapes also allow you to attach one or a considered jumble of charms, a trend that continues to enchant jewelry collectors. More on that below.
You don’t have to be a hard-core jewelry aficionado to be on board with this trend — a little goes a long way. And since it enables self-expression and personalization, alphabet jewelry makes a universally appealing birthday or holiday gift — portraying the recipient’s initials, for instance, or their children’s. Alphabet charms, bracelets and pendants are often delicate and understated, but diamonds always make them pop.
You can go classic, with a sans serif font in pavé diamonds, or bohemian, with a glittering grapheme perched on a precious-metal swoop. For forceful personalities (like Alexis in the award-winning cult favorite TV show Schitt’s Creek, whose signature asymmetrical A necklace has influenced this trend’s longevity), inflate the size of the initial 10-fold. Or, look for details that enliven the archetype with a little extra flair, such as vibrant enamel, an edgy Gothic font, or an unexpected east/west setting.
Designers continue to mine the zodiac for inspiration in crafting jewelry that combines self-expression with haute hippie chic. Astrological signs can appear in a profusion of forms, from constellations expressed in diamonds to ancient Greek symbols etched, engraved, stamped or laser-cut into your metal of choice.
Ella Gafter focuses on three-dimensional representations, such as this Pisces fish cuff and this Aries ram’s-head ring. And a galaxy of options unfolds when you dip into vintage territory, especially that marked out by the luxury jewelry houses. This Cancer charm from Bulgari and this Aquarius necklace from Van Cleef & Arpels, for example, are both the very definition of wear-forever jewels well worth your investment.