The A-to-Z of Accessories: Jewellery

Once you get up to J in an A-to-Z of Accessories, the obvious entry for this letter is… jewellery. Originally encompassing necklaces, rings, bracelets, brooches, earrings, pendants and many other body adornments made out of metal, these days the word can refer to a great many more items. Graduates of courses like London College of Fashion’s BA Fashion Jewellery use a variety of different materials, processes and influences in their work – wood, fabric, paper, glass, metal – resulting in striking accessories that can bring an outfit together, or instantly update old clothes into a stunning new look. From fashion pieces that you wear constantly for a season or two, to family heirlooms you never ever take off, jewellery is many things to many people

However, for most of us, jewellery still falls into two main categories: fine jewellery made from precious metals and stones, or ‘costume’ jewellery. Costume jewellery used to be regarded as fake (e.g. faux pearls) or mere trinkets designed solely to perform a fashionable function. Fine jewels were always the most sought after, with pieces made from gold, silver and precious gems being treasured and handed down through families. These days, however, you only need to search eBay for vintage bakelite jewellery or pieces by Léa Stein to know that even plastic is precious these days. Any item of jewellery that is well designed and rare can be just as precious as one that is made from gold.

If bold bright costume jewellery is your thing, check out brands like Ciléa (available from the V&A shop), the selection of designs available at high street stores like Topshop and, of course, my absolute favourite brand Tatty Devine. If you’re into jewellery made from precious metals and stones, take a look at the beautiful delicate pieces designed by Michael Michaud, the stunning work of London-based designer Melanie Georgacopoulos, or perhaps the chunky rock-n-roll style of The Great Frog. After all, jewellery doesn’t always have to be feminine.

(By the way, if you’re from the US and you think I’m spelling jewelry wrong, I’m afraid you’re just going to have to cope with all those extra letters as this is a UK site.)

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