We fear big jewelry. We might look at the model on the cover of Vogue and think she looks unbelievable wearing a crystal the size of a baby’s fist, but that’s for a fashion spread, not for a trip to Duane Reade. Most of us still stick to the subtle lariat or the tiny pearl stud, afraid the purchase of one oversized necklace will send us hurtling toward the land of QVC victims and Jersey gangster molls.
Somehow it’s the miniscule that has become equated with sophisticated and classy. As ’90s minimalism carries into the millennium, we’ve cultivated an almost WASP-ish obsession with the neat and discreet. Clearly, there’s a discrepancy between what you see on the street and what’s in magazines. There don’t seem to be enough forests in the world to outfit models with this season’s wooden bangles and safari-inspired pendants; meanwhile the rest of us (with the exception of anyone who bought last year’s chandelier earring) are going bare. A shame, because dressing this summer can be as easy as throwing one of these chunkier pieces over a $5 Old Navy tank. Let’s explore this summer’s finer—yet larger—offerings.
Safari in Soho: Yup, African safari gear is big this season, which means women’s magazines everywhere are doing a bang-up job with those un-PC headlines: “On the hunt for tribal chic” is our current favorite. But we digress.
Skip the ubiquitous horn pendant, and invest instead in wooden necklaces from Gomi NYC for $28, striking resin cuffs from Dinosaur Designs for $50 to $70. Waga sells wooden cuffs and elephant earrings in the $6-$12 price range; strands of small wooden beads go for $6 to $8 at Bocage—perfect for piling around your neck, or looping into a bracelet. Soho street vendors also have a wealth of decent, cheap knockoffs.
Summer of a 1,000 Stevies: Dream-catcher dangles, wing and leaf earrings—all very reminiscent of the ethereal Fleetwood Mac singer. Check Urban Outfitters for examples of each, or buy online at fredflare.com.
Me Lucky Charms: I remember this craze in high school, where chicks would start out with one or two charms on their anemic link bracelet, and by the end of the year, their wrists were like five pounds of tiny ballerinas. This year’s charm bracelets, earrings, and necklaces have a much more homespun, ad-hoc quality to them. Our pick: Gomi NYC’s $38 take, or for the slightly more flush, Made Her Think’s $315 version at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Fruity Pebbles: Carmen Miranda gets her nod this season with fruit-shaped necklaces and earrings (even though they make us think less of the juicy tropics and more of our first-grade teacher, Ms. Block, and her curious obsession with craft-fair finery. This is probably the one time we’d keep it small, skipping Girlprop’s perky lemon-slice necklace for the glass cherry charm at Bocage.
Jamaica in your windowless cube: Strands of shells and coral-branch pendants abound. Buy a bunch, rub them longingly, and pretend you are in a tropical paradise instead of your cramped office space. Our pick: A.V. Max’s coral branch necklace, $65, on the Girlshop’s Web site.
What up, my polyamorous Viking lord: We’re still ensconced in some sort of Lord of the Rings aftermath, because every jewelry shop looks like a freakin’ D&D convention with all those crystal necklaces, polished gemstone bracelets—usually assembled in some sort of charm formation. Our pick: Anything by Draugsvold Jewelry, available at TG 170, the Market NYC, or icovetthis.com.
Ditch the trends: Perhaps the best idea is to avoid what’s sold at Claire’s in bulk. Fred Flare’s got earrings reminiscent of mobiles from the 1970s, and for the more brave, ones shaped like tea trays.
Heavy goth jewelry is never popular in the summertime, and thus a refreshingly unexpected choice. Check out these upscale corseted or bound Spragwerks rings, sold at Objets du Désir, Trash & Vaudeville, and The Market NYC. Or hit goth palace C’est Magnifique.
Jewelry that could kick your dirty hippie, dreamcatcher-wearing ass: I Heart sells gangsta-chic, brass-knuckle rings from Surface2Air, $50 for the aluminum version. Trash & Vaudeville carries an intimidating man ring reminiscent of a wrecking ball with spikes, for $70.