To say at least one good thing about the year 2020: It held no shortage of good jewelry.
To look at my year’s roundup of Britt’s Pick, you’d think not much was amiss. Here these pieces are, bright and sparkling as ever, giving us all the good feels.
What gives me a good giggle, despite everything this year has brought, is the way my narrative changes—and rather quickly. January is all about yearning for travel and getting by on wanderlust-y jewels. Flash-forward to April, and it’s “What jewels would look best with sweatpants?” No one saw 2020 coming—most didn’t, anyway—and seeing how our minds processed information and how we as an industry adapted to the demands of both customers and ourselves is pretty incredible.
So naturally you’ll see plenty of talismans here, many things that would prove easy to wear at home. Other picks, though, offer inspiration and hope, prime examples of how jewelry can be so powerful.
Here’s hoping that 2021 is a better year filled with styles that are suited to actually going places (though I wouldn’t be mad pairing any of them with sweatpants, either). Thank you for following along with me yet again. Happy New Year.
Ocean Blue earrings by Alexis Barbeau
“A mix of blue tones is a calming sight, this one courtesy of aquamarine cabochons, blue-green tourmaline baguettes, and paraiba tourmaline, also in cabochon form. Tsavorite garnets provide the only pop of bright green, a welcome addition that seems to both complement and contrast.” Read more.
Rosy Peach earrings by K. Mita
“Mita’s pretty pink pair is one worthy of getting lost in. The long, slender rhodochrosite drops blossom and bloom with bands of white, which ripple out as if a pebble has been dropped into their rose-colored pools. I’m drawn to what’s unfamiliar, and for me, rhodochrosite mostly is. I’ve been seeing it a bit more recently, but it isn’t so common that I could gather a lineup of jewels featuring it.” Read more.
Ball ring by Dorian & Rose
“This piece is a work of art, with the power to move you, as it did for me, reigniting some lost memories that involve more than just a night-light, but childhood, in general.” Read more.
The E Ho’āla collection by Maui Divers
“E Ho’āla, which means “the awakening,” is inspired by the Hawaiian sunrise, a sight that I can attest is one of the greatest things a person can ever witness. The vista was captured in the rays of 14k yellow gold that fan out from the center of both the ear cuff and earrings worn by Miner, the latter set with South Sea pearls (there is also a gorgeous matching pendant, worn by Miner at an earlier Grammys event).” Read more.
Evora pendant by Enji Studio
“Called Evora, the pendant takes the horizontal style you’d see on a nameplate and upends it with an artful, interesting gemstone centerpiece. From afar, you’ll achieve that yearned-for silhouette attributed to wearing your name on a suspended chain, but close-up, this is far from the same thing. So, okay, it’s not at all like a nameplate (then why did I immediately think of one when I first saw it?).” Read more.
Silurian dinosaur bone band by Thorsten
“For starters, it’s made in black ceramic—a striking look that can be spotted from afar, and one that looks pretty cool on the hand. It’s a good choice for those who don’t take well to metal (ceramic is said not to irritate the skin), and the material is said to be durable. But what makes this band even cooler is its dinosaur-bone inlay—a treat for fossil hunters and Jurassic Park lovers alike.” Read more.
The Serengeti bangle by Belle Étoile
“With a black background of enamel (shown at top), the leafy picture of a wild gathering—cheetah, snake, giraffe, zebra, monkey, and a couple of fine-feathered friends—really pops. The style is also available in a softer white background, a glossier look that would be chic on its own or in a group.” Read more.
Aquamarine Shaker earrings by Jacquie Aiche
“With aquamarine in a starring role, the pair is ideally suited to a March birthstone display, but the aesthetic has me clamoring for the summer sun and a Mediterranean getaway. A trio of luminous lines, each tiered with four mirrored gold discs, dangles from the aquamarine that serves as the focal point in each earring, with a further upside-down Y-shape pattern of the reflective gold rounds topping it. It’s the kind of sexy, free-spirited look that Aiche has made such a staple of her collections.” Read more.
Briolette diamond flower earrings by Vivaan
“The briolettes here are certainly not ones found in your local craft store, though they were in beautiful abundance. More than 10.5 carats went into making this heavenly pair, arranged into blossoming layers like luminescent wildflowers, aglow with spring dew (and maybe a hint of winter’s frost).” Read more.
Talisman charms by Harwell Godfrey
“Let’s be frank: This is not the time to promise customers immunity in exchange for their purchase of a piece of jewelry—such a garish claim might send even the most loyal shoppers running—but the simple presentation of a beautiful creation could have the opposite effect, giving us hope that even when things seem grim, creativity thrives and there’s so much to enjoy.” Read more.
Fossilized sand dollar pendant by Nan Fusco
“The (good) magic of this one-of-a-kind piece can be attributed to its fossilized sand dollar, an object that hit the jackpot and ended up in a beautifully crafted piece of jewelry to be admired forever or longer. Four hundred million years on earth to be surrounded by diamonds and golden fringe? A proper tribute to its antiquity.” Read more.
Floating diamond necklace by Sophie Ratner
“This is exactly the versatile kind of jewel I need to take me from the office (mine is located in our kitchen) to dinner (um, also pretty much enjoyed in the kitchen). If I should be so bold as to venture to the living room, to take in a movie or something, this would do well to accessorize my ensemble there, too—perhaps I’ll opt for my nicer sweatpants, or even—and this is practically unheard of—jeans.” Read more.
Churchill Downs necklace by Vincent Peach
“Horse paraphernalia is a constant in Peach’s offerings, and the Equestrian collection has become a mainstay over the last few years and one that appeals to a wide range of audiences (the rider set is particularly enamored with the pieces). From good luck to a chic symbol of an upper-crust lifestyle, you can understand why the Equestrian collection could appeal to almost anyone.” Read more.
Protection Totem necklace by Jenny Dee
“The collection from which this pendant is from, Magic Totem, speaks to the current need to have in our grasps something special. Something of protection, or at least of good vibes, that can be counted on to get us through. I saw the image of this pendant even before I learned its backstory, and just seeing it made me feel a little bit better.” Read more.
Pearl Hair Accessories by Donni
“Alyssa Wasko’s Los Angeles brand Donni offers a fair compromise, pairing freshwater pearls with base metal for remarkably affordable (and oh so chic!) hair accessories. Pearls decorate barrettes and bobby pins in all sizes, with prices ranging from $33 for the smallest, most basic bobby to $104 for larger comb-style pieces, decorated with keshi or coin pearls (the brand also offers turquoise and pink agate pieces).” Read more.
One-of-a-kind emerald ring by Pamela Love
“In this case, it’s a ring that does right by emerald, putting it well on display for marveled viewing. But the setting of the ring, a subtle beauty with an octagonal frame, feels triumphant. It’s the kind of style you notice, bolder still because it is so sleek.” Read more.
Unicorn signet ring by Retrouvaí
“This unicorn ring by Retrouvai is one that says, ‘I love you more now than I did when I met you. I appreciate everything you do for our family. You are important and unique. I love your cooking, and it’s okay that you just spent a month’s rent at the Container Store.’ ” Read more.
Pistachio Shellpop threader by Alina Abegg
“Inspired by the popular German treat schleckmuscheln, which are gorgeously glossy candy-filled shells (though Google translate tells me the word means “barnacles” in English, which shows why online translators may be literal but fail to capture a word’s essence), Abegg’s line of Shellpop jewelry is a delectable treat. It’s also one that, at least mentally, takes me a step closer to where I want to be—the beach.” Read more.
Over the Rainbow ring by Theo Fennell
“Rainbows are the kind of natural occurrences that can spur such stories as the one that inspired this ring (the legend that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow). And the care and exquisite detail that went into retelling it here is beyond flattering of such a symbol, one that we hold in such high regard. May we all continue to hold out for our rainbows, and in the meantime, may we enjoy the creations so worthy of them.” Read more.
Nuevo Mundo earrings by Lydia Courteille
“It’s the rainbow road, paved in tsavorites, sapphires, amethysts, rubies, and diamonds, connecting the opposing trapiche planets, which makes each earring feel so timely. We just talked about how important a symbol rainbows are right now, and they’re gloriously depicted—if a little abstract—here. And what’s more, they seem to sprout life: Sparkling gemstone-accented flowers bloom at each rainbow’s end, huddled around the hexagonal trapiche islands, bathing them in further beauty.” Read more.
Pearl chain bracelet by Zoë Chicco
“There is a compromise to this idea of wearing pearls throughout the summer, I think, and it looks a lot like this bracelet by Zoë Chicco. Mind you, we still need to take caution with pearls, be it a single charm or full strand, but this example feels much more practical, and most definitely on trend.” Read more.
Revolution Rainbow drop earring by Samantha Tea
“Somehow this piece bundles everything going on into one package—the hope, the fear, the intensity, the fight. It also—permit me a moment of optimism—foresees a future in which we revel in our victories. Much like the ball that drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, this bejeweled spherical presence descends gracefully down its pole, signaling to the crowd that the celebration has begun and welcoming with it a new chapter, a fresh slate.” Read more.
Ruby earrings by Bina Goenka for Gemfields
“From a collaboration between Gemfields and Mumbai, India–based designer Bina Goenka, these earrings, featuring mostly rubies but with a touch of emeralds, are like luxury birds of paradise. Blooming ruby petals gently brush pear-shape emerald center stones, the only contrast of color you’ll find here (but all that is necessary). Above it, a ladder of baguette rubies suspends like a rickety path, climbing its way up to another artfully arranged bouquet of half-moon rubies.” Read more.
Convertible Pill link necklace by Deborah Pagani
“The best part about this handmade piece, though? It’s convertible. Like, super convertible. The designer’s website shows it styled five different ways: choker length, as a lariat (my favorite), swooped into a two-strand style, worn at its full 22-inch length, and, finally, as a bracelet.” Read more.
The #PieceforPeace pendant by Just Jules
“Priced at just $125 suggested retail, the pendant offers a relatively affordable way to do some good while scoring a very wearable piece—a peace sign is never not in favor (because the call for peace should never go unanswered), and this one’s organic, vintage-y aesthetic hints at a found style that’s both earthy and a little bit rock ’n’ roll. In addition to its bohemian vibe, I love the way the pendant hangs from the chain, wrapped around its static bezel like an anchor.” Read more.
Custom sea-inspired wedding set by Maggi Simpkins
“If the sea-inspired gemstone elements didn’t tip you off, the engagement ring itself features waves on the side of its basket, more of a special secret for the wearer than an outward statement but an incredibly important detail, nonetheless.” Read more.
Tourmalined aquamarine ring by Variance Objects
“In crystals, aquamarine is said to promote self-healing and reduce stress as it calms and soothes, its sea-like appearance a relaxing presence. I can see that in this stone, but much like the ocean, it contains a strong undercurrent that just keeps pulling you in.” Read more.
Collaborative Necklace by M. Spalten and Pamela Zamore
“To know the work of jewelers Melissa Spalten of M. Spalten and Pamela Zamore is to love it. Spalten, with her mesmerizing centerpieces like drops from a gemstone galaxy one can only dream of journeying to; and Zamore, whose celestial emblems are the things of starry-eyed fantasies. Both designers have staked a permanent claim on my wish list, with each new creation more covet-worthy than the last. But then they come together, and the combination of their jewelry mastery pens a tune that positively tops the charts.” Read more.
Chromatic Paradise piñata ring by Daniela Villegas
“Villegas’ version goes the traditional route with a stick, a glorious detail that sets her work apart. This stick is golden, textured to appear as wood, and perfectly placed along the piñata’s side, attached by a golden chain to secure it. The donkey’s likeness is fancifully frilled along its flanks and around the collar with colorful stones, its body set with gemmy polka dots.” Read more.
Heart wedding bands by Catarino Jewels
“I found the rings while casually scrolling through the product directory for JCK Virtual, which officially kicks off on Monday and runs through Aug. 14. It’s not any big statement to say that this show won’t be like the others—no dressing up and mingling with friends and colleagues, no getting our steps in on the show floor—but there are some perks to this edition that has come from necessity too. For instance, I spotted this ring from the comfortable laze of my couch. I was wearing sweatpants and no makeup, and I didn’t have to travel hundreds of miles to see it. Of course we’ll be thrilled when things go back to normal—I simply highlight the silver linings of a situation that can’t currently be avoided.” Read more.
Peridot Spear Tip ring by Liv Luttrell
“From a macro view, this ring reads like so many other styles of the moment: chunky and gold, with a rounded domed body and lustrous finish. But it’s Luttrell’s hand that guides the design to another place entirely, dipping into pools of gold at its sides while a quartet of pincer prongs gracefully clasp the center stone—the “spear tips,” as the ring has been named.” Read more.
Triple Threat ring by Rahaminov Diamonds
“While the carat count is indeed high—just over 6 cts. t.w.—I appreciate the simplicity of the style, as the solitaire stones need no accompaniment from melee accents. It might sound strange to call this style streamlined, but it sort of feels that way, anyway. It’s just the right setting for a modern—yet enduring—look, and it functions as beautifully as an engagement ring as it does for a statement piece.” Read more.
Crescent Moon pendant by Gabriella Kiss
“If the full moon represents starting over, the crescent moon must mean that things aren’t over yet. With only so much yet revealed, we can hold out hope by knowing what we know and only imagining what we don’t. It tells us that there’s still time left in this phase to do what we must or what we like, before moving on to the next one.” Read more.
Nacre pearl necklace by Melanie Georgacopoulos
“Though boundary pushing, don’t mistake that description for something that would be considered overly edgy or too far out of the box: This piece is downright elegant and wouldn’t look out of place on the Queen of England. Still, it’s a breath of fresh, salty sea pearl air all the same, and Georgacopoulos has much more where that came from.” Read more.
Opal Jeweled Thorn pendant by Cathy Waterman
“The heart shape of this pendant is certainly romantic, but in no way twee. I see it more as a dark heart—a powerful, perhaps dangerous amulet worn by a wicked queen with a flair for good style. Given the product name, Thorn, the jeweler seems to agree on the design’s enchanting aura with a slightly devilish twist.” Read more.
Shirley Spear earrings by Sarah Hendler
“The thing about black and orange together is often it can be so Halloween that you can’t relate it to anything else. But Hendler’s pair here, featuring a citrine and black spinel combo, are so elegant and refined, Halloween is just one of the occasions they’re appropriate for. You might see them and recognize that iconic color duo as one that’s popular this time of year, but that’s not all you’ll think about them.” Read more.
Tourmaline and opal bead necklace by Jacquie Aiche
“The beaded necklace—an inspiring lineup of multicolor opals arranged in a color-blocked pattern—feels luxe but approachable, with Aiche’s signature bohemian vibe that instantly relaxes and exudes cool. The center blue-green tourmaline, though, outlined in a frame of diamonds and rose gold, contrasts the casual aesthetic but in a way that instantly makes sense somehow, even if it shouldn’t. It sort of reminds me of the days when women would fasten a spectacular brooch onto the strands of their pearls, though that combination is neither as colorful nor as avant-garde as this. It’s like a grown-up candy bead necklace, looking good enough to eat but far and away longer lasting.” Read more.
Carved Minaret earrings by Shamila Fine Jewelry
“What dangles from the earrings are what steal the show: In a hue ideal for fall, the smoky quartz is beautifully carved to reveal an ornamental design that would have its wearer dolled up like a Christmas tree. I imagine this pair to be as fun to wear as they would be to touch, feeling the textured faceting as your fingers graze that crisp, cool stone.” Read more.
Sapphire leaf brooch by Tiina Smith
“The precious piece captures autumn in a wearable time capsule—an invigorating, brilliantly sparkling one at that—with the most luscious shades of yellow, orange, and red. The color is owed to about a carat and a half of multicolor sapphires, riveting against a blackened gold background.” Read more.
Bimal ring by State Property
“The stripes are somewhat of a signature from the Singaporean jeweler, and in fact I had planned to feature a simple (but chic) band with the style until I saw this one. But this piece, though actually inspired and named for world cyclist Bimal Mukherjee, has all the elements of a Tim Burton–esque Halloween one could hope for.” Read more.
Pink topaz eye ring by NeverNoT
“NeverNoT’s version sits way larger on the finger, an almost cocktail ring of sorts, but it’s still low profile and super wearable, with that chunky gold goodness built in. It’s very much in line with styles that are in demand right now.” Read more.
Pogo Punk necklace by Sweet Pea
“From London’s Sweet Pea Fine Jewellery, the necklace playfully dangles chains along with turquoise and topaz, a cool pairing that adds calm to the chaos. It’s a bit edgy yet delicately done, like a rock ’n’ roll ballad (but a good one that ages well).” Read more.
Prisma ring by Senia
“The ring itself is a cool style worthy of purchase alone, but the brand also offers what many consumers are looking for in their shopping these days: a cause. A portion of Senia’s monthly sales goes to their Student Innovation Fund, which provides funding and mentorship to diverse, underrepresented start-up founders.” Read more.
Yellow jade fox head ring by Dima Jewellery
“This bejeweled lady (I like to think it’s a lady, though perhaps not?) is the version to adorn oneself with, the carry-along model of playful holiday fun. Goodness knows we all need a bit of fun this year, and my foxy madam is packed with it. Glowing eyes of green emeralds bespectacled in gold, with a diamond-shining crown atop her head to match—if you’re also a fan of the Netflix series The Crown, the piece might especially speak to you. I can almost hear her saying, in a very proper accent, ‘What jolly good fun the holidays are,’ can’t you?” Read more.
Turquoise Nuevo Mundo earrings by Lydia Courteille
“A flowy gathering of white gold ribbon—glittering with rubies, sapphires, tsavorites, and diamonds—is fastened by a carved turquoise flower, one for each ear. The brightly colored pair—and the other pieces alongside it in the Nuevo Mundo collection—is inspired by the history of the Mayans in Guatemala, incorporating their legends, multicolor patterns and fashions, and jewelry.” Read more.
Emerald-cut Honey ring by Deborah Pagani
“Inspired by antique beehive-shape honey pots, the ring is rich with comforting curves, like a puffer coat in the dead of winter. Five rows of domed lines, the thickest at the center, pile high in what looks like a stack of rings (“Fiiiiiive golden riiiiiiings!” for you carolers), which cohesively comes together in one statement style that might appear more fashion ring than bridal—at least at first glance, though its versatility becomes readily apparent.” Read more.
Lytton Disc earrings by Walters Faith
“From Walters Faith, the Lytton earrings may seem a bit literal as far as symbolism is concerned—it doesn’t take an art major to see in them the image of a glittering ball, not unlike the famous icon of New Year’s Eve. But that’s exactly what makes them so perfect. Because they weren’t made in the image of that icon, so they only touch on that symbol for one night, and then go on to sparkle the whole year through.” Read more.
Top: Over the Rainbow ring in 18k yellow gold with rock crystal, enamel, and 0.61 ct. t.w. diamonds, £31,500 ($38,420); Theo Fennell
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