A Guide to Jewelry and Accessories

Jewelry and accessories are not just fashion pieces — they’re powerful tools that can solidify your style and communicate who you are. Whether you’re a seasoned stylist or just starting your fashion journey, this guide will give you unique insights and impactful strategies to elevate your accessory game.

Why Do People Wear Accessories?

For most people, the primary reason for wearing jewellery is to add beauty and a finishing touch to their outfits. In addition, some jewellery pieces have specific symbolic meaning, such as a wedding band symbolizing commitment or a locket to commemorate special memories and milestones.

Other people wear jewellery to showcase their social status, for example, a gold watch that indicates wealth and prestige. In addition, some cultures use jewellery to mark key moments in life, such as births, graduations, or anniversaries.

The purpose of jewellery has evolved over time, but it remains a vital part of the human experience. The history of jewellery has been a reflection of changing cultural beliefs and ideals. In ancient civilisations, jewellery was worn to highlight the natural beauty of the wearer and to enhance their feminine features.

While most jewellery is worn for aesthetic reasons, some pieces are functional, artistic/decorative, or a marker of social status. Some of the most common functions include to fix clothing and hair in place, as a reminder of a religious or spiritual belief (such as a crucifix or Jewish star of David), and to signal membership of a group (as is the case with many initiation rites and wedding rings).

Others are designed to enhance an ensemble and accentuate certain regions of the body. For example, a necklace can draw attention to a waistline, while earrings can highlight the ears or neckline. Some jewellery pieces are also used to communicate a sense of professionalism and authority, such as cufflinks or tie clips for men, and brooches or scarf rings for women.

In modern times, jewellery is increasingly worn as a statement of personal identity. For example, the sleek designs of Tabayer, crafted from fair-mined gold and incorporating philanthropic donations in each purchase, speak to a desire for both style and social responsibility. Milamore’s collections are all about breaking with the old and ushering in the new, while Charlotte Macaulay combines her English heritage with dainty, yet refined approaches to heirloom jewellery.

Other jewellers have opted to design jewellery that reflects the beauty of nature, such as the sculptural forms of Cece Fein Hughes or the opulent florals and gemstones in Maria Yee’s pieces. In this way, they bring a bit of the outdoors inside, and create a feeling of harmony with the world. The same can be said of pieces conceived to be like miniature paintings, such as the engraved motifs in Matthew Harris’s locket collection or Rosanne Karmes’ opal and enamelled beads. The post-World War I era saw a shift towards simpler forms, with technical mastery becoming just as important as the design of the piece itself. This is reflected in the works of the Darmstadt artists’ colony, Wiener Werkstatte, and Liberty & Co.