A great outfit does a lot of things. It sets the tone of your look, and expresses in tiny ways who you are, who you want to be, and what you want to accomplish today. But even the best outfits can be elevated with the right jewelry—which is why there are a few different jewelry items every woman should own.
Some jewelry purchases are all about being gripped by the item and the moment. Others are a little more planned. If you’re building up a catalogue of jewelry basics, these are a great place to start. They’re items with a lot of flexibility, so not only can they be selected to suit the individual, but they can be worn with a wide array of outfits, too.
Think of jewelry basics like a great kitchen knife, or an excellent dress shirt. The right ones let you do a lot with very little!
1. Every woman should own one truly great necklace!
I’m a necklace person, so necklaces are the first thing I recommend when someone is building up their jewelry repertoire. They’re a low risk jewelry item: everyone can wear them, and they always fit. But despite being low risk, they’re high impact, which makes them the perfect place to start.
My necklace collection is pretty minimal. If I won’t wear something at least once a month, then I won’t buy it. But what’s stayed constant throughout the years is that I always have one “magic” necklace—one item that I can add to almost any outfit and have it look great. My first “staple necklace” was a choker-length string of baroque-shaped pearls that belonged to my mother. It lives in a little crystal ice wine glass in my closet, and I still wear it every chance I get.
After that, I fell in love with a multi-string necklace of similar length and shape, in a lovely mess of mossy greens. Today, my go-to necklace is fine gold swoop encrusted with diamonds (a particularly thoughtful gift from my beau). Its princess length chain and light weight make it easy to wear with anything, and it completes any outfit without being attention-grabbing. But while I like simple, no-nonsense pieces, there’s a wonderfully broad range of necklaces out there. Some personalities are best suited to big, attention-grabbing statements; others, to minimalist shapes and small features.
How to pick your perfect necklace
I always think that necklaces are a great item to own a variety of, but there’s a certain allure to having just one or two “perfect” necklaces that you swap in. (You know, like I often do!) Having a grab-and-go piece that makes sense with any outfit is great for indecisive dressers, busy parents, and high-achievers who want to save their decision-making power for the big stuff.
I’ve talked up the value of variety quite a bit, but if I had to pick just one item, it would be a pendant necklace. Choose a metal that matches your wardrobe: white gold or silver if you wear a lot of cool colours, like grey, blue, purple, and green, and gold if you wear a lot of warm colours, like red, beige, coral, peach, and brown. (For a modern twist on a classic necklace, consider a rose gold option!)
The flexibility of a necklace is one of its most attractive features, however, so of course there are options for the uncertain. Clear stones like diamonds, cubic zirconia, and white sapphires are easy to match to any personality, and mixed metal necklaces are a chic twist on the norm. Simple chain necklaces like this gold rope, for instance, add a delicate touch to an outfit.
2. A classic set of earrings
If you (or your recipient) have pierced ears, I recommend owning at least one classic set of earrings. Choose either hoop earrings, pearl earrings, or diamond studs.
Small hoops are a refined way to bring attention to your neck, ears, and jawline, while large hoops are designed to make a statement. (I love small hoops that feature a line of gemstones in the centre, like these gold hoop earrings.)
Pearl earrings tend to come as studs (or solitaire) earrings, but are also available as small drop or hoop earrings. Unfortunately, pearl earrings have fallen somewhat out of style as flashy fashion earrings have taken over, but they remain a top choice for an evening out. For a trendy take on the pearl earring, consider a set of midcentury-style drop pearl earrings with a bit of colour, like these black cultured pearl drop earrings.
Finally, diamond studs are the most popular choice when it comes to “must-have” earrings. They’re eye-catching and simple, and pair well with anything. Variability in metal, size, and stone type mean they fit any budget, and they’re an easy item to upgrade as your life changes. Whether your diamond studs are something that you purchase for yourself with every job milestone, or something you purchase for your partner for every life milestone, there’s plenty of ways to go from small silver studs to jaw-dropping diamonds.
Variation in styles will help make your wardrobe more flexible, so start with your one “must have” and build outwards. Pendant earrings, studs, and hoops are all appropriate for different occasions, but simple stud or drop earrings are an ideal item to begin with for versatile wear.
3. A great piece of fashion jewelry
Here’s something that you won’t find in every jewelry guide out there. We’re used to seeing the classics: every woman should own a pendant necklace. A set of stud earrings. A beautiful ring.
But why not something fun?
Everyone, I think, should own one great piece of fashion jewelry. Something big that makes a statement—something that makes you feel wide open and confident every time you put it on. The perfect piece of fashion jewelry can be anything, but I find that it’s often something you receive as a gift: the perfect piece that someone else saw that was so you that it made them think of you immediately. You know; something like these Betsey Johnson bulldog earrings, or this high-low mix of fashion jewelry and fine stones that had me at lemon. Keep your eyes open for a huge bracelet that looks like a curvy baguette, or dangly earrings from a book series that you loved as a child. (Radish earrings, anyone?)
For wearers who want to mix the two categories, classic pieces with a bit of whimsy are a great option. Look to designs like the bolo bracelet. The gemstone-encrusted bracelet is refined and jaw-dropping, but the playful bolo tie makes each bracelet more lighthearted and fun than a simple tennis bracelet would be.
Sure, every woman should own a couple staple items of fine jewelry. But why not make your third staple item something that you can love right now, with all your heart, with room to love something else next year?
Check out Best Buy’s best Valentine’s Day gifts of 2020 for even more jewelry inspiration.