When Coco Chanel said ‘a woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls’, she was not referring to the real deal. This was the designer who introduced ‘fashion jewellery’ to the world, giving stylish women licence to adorn themselves with all manner of faux gold, silver and precious gems. More was more – it still is, as long as you also ‘look in the mirror and take one thing off’ before you leave the house, another famous Chanel maxim.
Until that point, jewellery tended to be rather serious. In introducing these statement pieces she made it fun – whether you could afford solid gold and precious stones or not. Even the most trend-averse woman has zhuzhed up an outfit with a bold accent – just look at the Princess of Wales, who attended the Baftas last month in a pair of £17.99 Zara earrings that would make Pat Butcher look low-key.
It’s not always so affordable, even the costume pieces – ask anyone investing in Saint Laurent’s oversized crystal heart earrings (£1,450) or Gucci’s strawberry charm necklace (£840) – but statement jewellery earns its keep when it comes to fashion cred.
Exposure on Netflix can bump up the value too. Susan Caplan, an authority on vintage jewellery, sourced many pieces for season five of The Crown. You can now buy an exact copy of the choker worn by Elizabeth Debicki as Diana in the ‘revenge dress’ scene from her, if you’re happy to part with £495.
Most of all, though, statement jewellery is useful. Sometimes an outfit calls for something bolder than the delicate initial charms and ear studs so many of us wear day in, day out. Still, unless you can afford to spend the kind of money that could also buy a family home, I’d advise you to consider the costume variety.
While I wouldn’t question Coco Chanel’s wisdom, it’s hard to go wrong here, so be guided by your own taste. If that’s more minimal, consider Dévé’s lapis lazuli hoop earrings; if you’re a maximalist, stack your wrists with Dinosaur Designs’ chunky bangles. Just don’t be shy: on this topic, bigger is always better.
Clockwise from top left: 1980s vintage charm bracelet, £75, Susan Caplan; Agate necklace, £360, Skomer Studio; Gold plated bracelet, £120, Mikaela Lyons; Freshwater pearl earrings, £325, Pond London; Resin earrings, £22, Orelia
Sterling silver earrings, £290, Ella Stern; Resin bangle, £60, Dinosaur Designs; Jade, lapis lazuli, freshwater pearls and gold necklace, £192, Eliou; Lapis and gold vermeil earrings, £365, Dévé; Gold, crystal and blue enamel ring, £120, Carousel Jewels