I have been immersed in a world of bows here in the Siminitz household as of late. With a Minnie Mouse–obsessed toddler, it’s sort of hard not to be. Did you know there’s a show all about how Minnie runs a bow boutique (a bow-tique?). I’m pretty sure it doesn’t teach my kid anything, but it gives me a few minutes to myself anyway.
So with a brain full of bows, I began taking note of the bow jewelry I saw. Consumers (myself included) generally seem to be pulled a bit more toward bohemian-style jewelry: casual, everyday, cool. Bows don’t feel like a natural fit for this description, as they’re often seen as über-polished and superfeminine (if you’re from the South or went to school there, like I did, you know there’s not a single Southern sorority girl who doesn’t have a giant bow among her hair accessories).
But as we’ve seen more and more with all kinds of jewelry lately, playing by these unwritten rules is so unnecessary and, really, rather boring. People wear the unexpected—all genders are wearing pearls, engagement rings are no longer solely adorned with solitaire diamonds, custom pieces are being created for all manner of unexpected reasons. The same can be true for bows: No, they aren’t just for the female gender; no, they aren’t solely the prim topper of a neatly attired package. They can be those things when one needs them to be, of course, but a range of designer perspectives infuses them with so many more possibilities.
Bows have been a motif in jewelry since the 17th century, often used to represent love and romance. Thoughts of delicately detailed brooches come to mind, sometimes adorned with diamonds or pearls. Their elaborate presence probably contributes to the notion that bows are of the utmost proper persuasion: To sit on a court of royalty would mean appearing extremely put-together, with jewels to fit the bill.
Those pieces are still highly valued today, as they should be, of course. My own bow jewelry is certainly less expensive but no less delicately exquisite: I have a pair of 1930s bow earrings, which I wore on my wedding day. Dangling a pearl from each, the earrings have screw-back posts so thick I have to all but repierce my ear to force them through. But we suffer for beauty, don’t we?
Today, we’re treated to a variety of bow jewelry that feels so wonderfully all-encompassing. Some, you’ll want to break out for special occasions, letting them sparkle under the spotlight of a gorgeous dress or suit, whether at a wedding or a business casual work event. They’re truly the finishing touch that ties everything together, so beautiful and immaculately presented.
Others vibe well with the casual, everyday styles so many have embraced over the last few years. A new pendant to layer or add to a group of charms; a delicate-looking but durable ring to stack; a pair of stud earrings to adorn an ear pierced all the way up and down. It suits everyone from the coolest-clad to the messy moms like me to the men exploring their way through new styles in jewelry (how amazing would the brooch pictured at top look on the lapel of a men’s suit?).
The same symbolism can still exist no matter the aesthetic, if the wearer opts to don their bows in the name of love or friendship. But, like with the modern-day pearl, that sense of being solely for the prettily dolled up is long gone.
Top: Bow brooch in 18k recycled yellow gold with 8.21 ct. tanzanite, $3,360; McFarlane Fine Jewelry
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