Jewel School: Get Your Rocks Off with Our Single Gal’s Guide to Jewelry

By Erin Donnelly

Pop quiz. The bulk of your jewelry stash comes from: 

A. Grandma’s estate.

B. Claire’s Accessories.

C. Assorted sugar daddies.

D. What jewelry? I’m waiting for Prince Charming to show up with a tiny velvet box in his pocket!  

Ennnhhhh! Wrong answer, sister (unless Nana was Grace Kelly, in which case, nice score!). In these modern times, it’s important that an independent, style-savvy woman—that’d be you—stop scraping by on far-fetched fairy tales and disposable mall baubles and wise up about the wonderful world of bijoux. 

No, you don’t have to “marry yourself” and splurge on a flashy right-hand ring consolation prize. Yes, it’s okay to hate diamonds (nutty, but okay). All we ask is that you accept that fabulous jewelry can be found at any price point, and that it is more than okay—nay, mandatory—to shower your own damn self with love tokens…the shinier, the better. Read on for some bling rules of engagement (or not), and a round-up of the hottest brands that belong in your jewelry box.



Do: Invest in a jewelry organizer to avoid the dreaded tangled-up mess of chain necklaces. Red Envelope’s Silver Twig Jewelry Tree is a lovely option, or you can hang necklaces from nails or doorknobs for a whimsical look. 

Don’t: Wear a necklace over a turtleneck. Tuck it under or take it off.  

Do: Find out if you suffer from any metal allergies. That ring is not supposed to make your finger turn moldy green. If so, look for hypoallergenic pieces.

Don’t: Do anklets—especially, ESPECIALLY over/under stockings. 

Do: Keep it simple. Unless you’re walking down the red carpet at the Oscars in borrowed Harry Winston, it’s more effective to limit yourself to one show-stopping piece.  

Don’t: Be afraid of cubic zirconia. Why blow a year’s income on real diamond studs when a $10 faux pair looks just as lovely? 

Do: Experiment with heirloom jewelry if you have it. Using an old cameo or brooch in a new way can really perk up an outfit. 

Don’t: Waste a lot of money on flavor-of-the-month trends. If you won’t wear it more than a handful of times, find an inexpensive version so you’ll have less buyer’s remorse. 

Do: Break the rules (except for these, of course). After all, who could have predicted that Carrie Bradshaw would have made gold-plated name necklaces and floral brooches the height of fashion? 

Don’t: Babysit while wearing your favorite chain necklace, unless you want it split into two favorite chain necklaces. It’s like handing a toddler an Elmo doll and telling him not to tickle it. 



Covetable jewelry brands for all budgets and tastes… 


Subversive Jewelry.

The Look: Downtown ingénue

Justin Giunta’s Subversive Jewelry line earned him a spot as a CFDA/Vogue finalist in 2006, and trend-setters are falling over themselves to swathe themselves in his edgy, deconstructed designs. Subversive’s signature look is endless layers of vintage chain necklaces dripping with pearls, charms and beads, plus eye-catching rings and earrings.

We Love: The Audrey Hepburn-esque Pearl and Ribbon Necklace. $$-$$$ pic5 


Kenneth Jay Lane

The Look: Big glamour, low prices

If you’ve got Liz Taylor jewelry fantasies on a Chuck Taylor budget, Kenneth Jay Lane may just be the best three-worded name you’ve ever heard (sorry, Sarah Jessica). The designer has counted Audrey Hepburn and, yes, Liz Taylor as clients, but his chic baubles are amazingly affordable and in line with the current trends. Think simple hammered-gold earrings, enamel cuffs with exotic animal details, and iceberg-size cocktail rings.

We Love: The Large Gem Ring (shown, top left) in blue and gold. $ 



Dinosaur Designs

The Look: The Flintstones meets Vogue

Who knew resin had a place in fashion? This Aussie line stands out from the crowd thanks to funky, chunky and always colorful resin bangles, navel-grazing necklaces, and band rings. A bold, playful choice for fun-loving fashionistas.

We Love: The Boulder Bangle (shown, top right) in red. $-$$


Lucid New York

The Look: Simply charming.

It’s hard to say what’s more pleasing: Lucid New York’s bargain prices (most necklaces go for $35), or the whimsical charms that dangle from her delicate sterling silver and gold-filled chains. Seahorses, fortune cookies and even handcuffs get their due, along with versatile, magnificently minimalist circles and medallions that can be worn day to day. You’ll start out shopping for yourself, but will wind up buying something for your best gal pals too.

We Love: The Wishbone Necklace (shown, right)—a little good luck never hurts. $


Jennifer Meyer

The Look: Natural wonder.

Meyer’s known amongst the Us Weekly set as being the wife of actor Tobey Maguire, but jewelry enthusiasts are more interested in her simple but stunning earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings. Aside from the occasional touch of diamond or stone trim, Meyer’s signature look is 18K yellow gold jewelry inspired by nature-think acorns, leaves and wishbones.  

We Love: Her Hammered Circle Earrings. $$$-$$$$


pic11Lisa Levine

The Look: Back on the chain gang.

Brooklyn-based Lisa Levine incorporates organic elements (feathers, for example) and a less-is-more aesthetic into her designs, resulting in a surprisingly versatile collection with widespread appeal. Pretty without being sentimental, with just the right amount of edginess, this sublime line gives the wearer plenty of freedom.

We Love: The Chase Necklace (shown), which can also be worn as a scarf or a belt. $$-$$$


David Yurman

The Look: Big-spender bijoux.

Swap breakfast at Tiffany’s for dim sum at David Yurman, a jewelry designer with the same elegance (and cha-ching! price tags) but a little bit more fashionista street cred. Thanks to major ad campaigns starring the likes of Naomi Watts and Kate Moss, Yurman is finally getting his due. Of course, a reputation for creating to-die-for gem- and diamond-studded sparklers and timepieces doesn’t hurt either.

We Love: Um, everything? But the new Pearl Bypass Ring with its twisted gold band is a real beauty. $$$-$$$$


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