It's one thing to spend money you need to save, but the error is compounded when you make a mistake which still sits tangled and unworn in a box longer than it took to go through a couple of bottles of Tabasco.
I made my share of blunders, but divested those clunkers when I moved two years ago, so you'll have to imagine pale-green plexiglass earrings encrusted with copious crystals, dangling like twin pastel disco balls. Crazily overpriced, as well as gawdawful.
Champagne under the bridge, honeybunch—but what about today?
Below, six principles to duck the ogre of obsolescence, with examples.
1. Put on a little weight
Now is the time for presence, in one stunning piece of estimable scale. Precious metal prices have soared beyond inflation; if you see yourself golden-aged in gold, sell unpleasing pieces, then check out vintage.
Wide 18k link bracelet, ca. 1970, from Beladora: ideal scale and weight in that mellow high-carat gold; price, $4,750.
You may be better off swapping metal for other materials!
When asked what piece would serve her to eternity, my Parisienne friend Huguette nominated her jade bangle. She wears her fine-quality beauty alone or with several Swarovski crystal flexible bracelets to funk it up.
Leaf-green jade and 14k gold bangle from Gump's; price, $1,750. (You might find them for less at an antique jeweler's.) A hinged bangle would be easier to put on one day.
2. Avoid the utterly generic
A chain is the hardest-working necklace you can own, but a plain version is not the smartest, in both senses of the word. I see men susceptible to this error when they buy gifts. Thrumming with anxiety, they choose the blandest, safest option.
Marie-Helène de Taillac's multitudes of sequins gold chain (detail shown) is refined yet assertive, with movement and shimmer. At 18 inches, lavishly hung with 2mm 22k gold beads, it will layer sinuously. Price, $4,370.
No, you don't have to spend thousands! Another example:
Jane Diaz' hammered link chain is gold-plated. To get 25 years' wear out of it, store in a jewelry bag and keep perfume and makeup off your neck. I like the scale, texture and price, $120.
3. Scout secondary gems of first quality
The family of quartzes provide gemmy, pungent colour.
Rosa Maria's smoky quartz grace ring combines a faceted 10mm smoky quartz with grey diamonds set in silver—a fresh yet classic vibe. I think it will go the distance. Price, $1,978.
I would also consider a strand of richly-hued beads, new or secondhand, in a colour that sings to you. The bead need not be huge—these are 8mm—but intensely-hued.
Shown, detail from a 55-inch Lena Skadegard aquamarine and gold-bead necklace. (Aquamarine is beryl, the same family as emerald.) Many readers could make their own; if so, you could skip the clasp, but not the knots. The crucial factor is the quality of the material.
4. Reset an outdated diamond (or other precious stone) ring
Decades of hard wear beat up a ring, and, like clothing, jewelry styles change; you're no longer wearing that Flashdance top, right? The stone might need recutting to repair; diamond is hard, but chips.
Example: a very '80s ER for sale on eBay:
If still wanted, that marquis diamond could delight for decades, restyled like Rebecca Overman's marquis solitare; the example is a yellow diamond, but the stone above would look beautiful, too:
Or make a band (recycling your old gold, too) like Deszo's rose gold and diamond piece:
Both will look spectacular on either hand, so, not just for spouses.
5. Go so old that age ennobles
Look for ethnic, antique or vintage, of graceful design.
An Edwardian (ca. 1910) diamond ring set in 14k gold; notice how the claws are integral to the mount, a beautiful antique setting. The old-cut diamond is .3cts; the price, $795 at Beladora.
The problem with some ethnic pieces is the weight of necklaces, which many of us can't handle anymore.
Sudha Irwin's pieces are made today but reference antiquity. Her Indian-influenced multi-strand turquoise and silver necklace will please those drawn to organic, casual pieces. Price $495.
6. Zhuzh a quintessential classic
Despite helping a friend shop for unusual pearl earrings, I still melt for a big sexy stud. A pearl pair mixes well with your costume pieces or, well, everything.
Baroques are more casual and unusual than rounds; find a pair with evident orient, like this pair: 18 x 13mm white pearl studs from Gump's, $300.
Better a high-quality simulant than a so-so diamond, and why not choose an interesting cut like the Loyal Asscher by Carats?
Price for 1ct. each, set in 9k yellow gold, $203. (Resist the temptation to go too big if you want them to look real, unless you hang with big-stone babes.)
These pieces should go the distance. If not, you can send them to me!
Use these principles for costume too, except, buy real pearls— I'm begging. The argonite crystals that form the genuine pearl's nacre create glowing depth; nothing else replicates it. Glass pearls are like kissing without touching: can be done, but not nearly as pleasurable.