The Stylists’ Guide to Statement Jewelry Etiquette

Jewelry trends may come and go, but statement jewelry is always en vogue. Six stylists and designers weigh in on whether there really are any rules for wearing big, bold, and beautiful jewels.

Table etiquette. Wedding etiquette. Statement jewelry etiquette? Yes, that’s “a thing.”

Just as the interior design world has experienced a resurgence in bright colors, bold prints, and overall maximalism, so has the jewelry industry. Dainty bangles, studs, and chains are moving to the back of the jewelry drawer and allowing thick cuffs, chandelier earrings, and layers of chunky chains to have their moment. Women of all ages and walks of life are having fun and looking fierce by experimenting with different styles that burst with personality as they discover that statement jewelry says more about the wearer than the piece being worn.

Model wearing Monica Rich Kosann statement jewelry

Monica Rich Kosann jewelry including a Twinkle Star Diamond Locket and Sun, Moon, and Stars Medallion necklaces, “Elizabeth” and “Rosalind” link bracelets, Marilyn pave link bracelet, Marilyn black ceramic link bracelet, and other pieces. Photo courtesy of @monicarichkosann

“Statement Jewelry is like art—it’s subjective, expressive, and highly personal,” says Shaye Strager, a fashion stylist who has dressed celebrities and CEOs across the country for more than 20 years. “It is also an investment, and not always a financial one. You are investing in yourself—and your own signature style—so make sure that you’re projecting the “real you.” Also, remember that you are the one wearing the jewelry so don’t let it wear you!”

When it comes to “statement jewelry etiquette,” stylists and jewelry designers agree that there is only one steadfast rule: Feel comfortable in what you wear.

“First and foremost, dress for yourself, but also consider your audience. Where are you going and who are you going to see? Think about the demographic.  Personally, I’m a maximalist when it comes to accessorizing, but when an event or occasion calls for something more conservative, I heed this advice from Coco Chanel: ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ Editing can be the difference between getting it right and going overboard.”–Whitley Adkins, Fashion and Wardrobe Stylist @thequeencitystyle

Model wearing camellia pearl statement earrings
Mignonne Gavigan's Camellia Pearl earrings in blush

“Understanding your face shape and skin tone are crucial to selecting statement jewelry that compliments your unique look. Round faces look best in earrings that are linear or dangle because they elongate the face. On the other hand, narrow faces should opt for something round to add a little width. Pendant necklaces highlight your cheekbones whereas beads bring out your eyes. Ask yourself which of these attributes you’d rather play up or enhance. As for skin tone, those with warm undertones look best in gold and rose gold, while people with cool undertones look best in silver and platinum. The goal is to create a beautiful balance between you and your jewelry.”–Alison Bruhn, Image Consultant @thestylethatbindsus

Triple strand of gold pearls with turquoise stone.
Golden South Sea Pear and Natural Turquoise Bracelet from Assael

“Never underestimate the power of pearls. Go beyond the classic, white staple and try strands (or several) featuring exotic pearls like South Sea and Akoya that vary in shape, color, and size. Also look for pieces that incorporate unexpected embellishments like coral, turquoise, and even petrified wood.” –Peggy Grosz, Senior Vice President at Assael @assaelpearls

Emerald, diamond, and sapphire earrings
Picchiotti Rose Garden collection earrings featuring tsavorites, round diamonds, and two oval sapphire drops. Photo courtesy of Picchiotti

“Colored gemstone like rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, for example, can elevate basic blacks and neutrals to a height that diamonds simply cannot. The intensity and depth of their natural hue can be breathtaking! For added interest, mix them up by wearing stones in complimentary colors rather than matching ones. To me, there is no chicer pairing than emeralds and sapphires.” –Maria Carola Picchiotti, Marketing Director at Picchiotti @picchiotti_fine_jewelry

Decolletage of woman wearing beaded scarf and gold necklace
"Chloe," a bugle-beaded, silk charmeuse scarf necklace from Mignonne Gavigan is paired with a gold chain.

“Statement pieces aren’t just for special occasions but they can make every day feel like one. A pair of big, bold earrings or a beaded scarf necklace is all it takes to transform a low-key look, like jeans and a blazer, into an eye-catching outfit that can effortlessly take you from day to evening.”—Mignnone Gavigan, Chief Creative Officer at Mignonne Gavigan @mignonnegavigan

When it comes to “statement jewelry etiquette,” stylists and jewelry designers agree that there is only one steadfast rule: feel comfortable in what you wear.

By Margaret Zainey Roux