I’m not really sure what the Robert Lee Morris oversize silver drop earrings were doing in the clearance bin at one of my favorite local shopping destinations, but this jewelry editor was happy to rescue them—and thrilled to report that they cost a mere $8 [insert raise-the-roof emoji here].
As I mentioned in this panel discussion at the recent MJSA show, I have been feeling the whisper of a silver jewelry trend for a while and the fact that my personal taste is pointing me in that direction—especially after being a gold girl for most of my life—tells me something. I’m not off on gold or anything but oh how my heart sank when Lisa Kramer Vintage posted these Niels Erik earrings on Instagram and I was too late to snatch them up. Now they’re all I think about.
I always appreciate a gut check when I am getting a whiff of a simmering trend, and the good news is that you don’t have to take my word for it. Quite a few of the experts we consulted for our 2023 Trend Forecast predicted a silver revival, one informed by 1990s-era nostalgia and a Southwestern jewelry microtrend but also the tech-forward, futuristic moment that the culture (see: NFTs) seems to be embracing.
Interestingly, the current silver jewelry trend also meets at the intersection of maximalism and minimalism. As such, to some collectors, vintage jewels by the likes of Elsa Peretti and Georg Jensen embody the trend at its absolute chicest.
“From a style perspective, minimalism is back, in stark contrast to the bright, bold statement jewelry that has been popular in recent years,” says Jill Heller, a New York–based stylist and vintage fine jewelry specialist. “Vintage sculptural silver pieces are back in higher demand for collectors who are leaning toward a more pared-down jewelry look, which we’re also seeing on recent runways ranging from Jil Sander to Alexander McQueen.”
She adds, “Yellow gold jewelry still reigns supreme when it comes to vintage, but collectors are starting to consider silver in a way that they hadn’t necessarily in the past. There is an ongoing fascination with Elsa Peretti and her legacy, which is now being embraced by a wider generation since Ryan Murphy’s Halston debuted on Netflix in 2021. Elsa was one of the largest proponents for silver at the time—managing to influence Tiffany to bring the medium back into their offering after they stopped using it in the 1930s—and this was very intentional. She wanted her pieces to be accessible to the average woman.”
Beyond appreciating Peretti’s timeless aesthetic, Heller says the idea of impeccably designed yet affordable jewelry resonates with a growing younger generation of jewelry collectors. To them, silver jewelry holds the promise of being the first of many conquests.
In addition to Peretti, Heller reports an uptick in interest in Georg Jensen. “It is strongly connected both to the resurgence of minimal fashion, as well as a bohemian look that has resurfaced,” she says. “This is due to the vast range of work created by Jensen himself and other designers at the helm of the brand in later years. More recent designs lean toward sculptural, while original Jensen works from the 1920s were heavily influenced by the art nouveau and Arts and Crafts movement.”
The uninitiated might start their Jensen journey with “the floral-inspired pieces from Jensen’s early days—like his tulips and moonlight blossoms—which are evocative of southwestern squash blossom pieces, but more minimalistic and with fewer embellishments,” says Heller. “For something more sculptural, the Amoeba and Amorphic pieces from Henning Koppel’s era at the brand are great examples of midcentury modernism’s influence on jewelry. The designs are simultaneously of-the-time and futuristic.”
The takeaway for retail jewelers? Well, if you’re sitting on a bunch of unsigned silver jewelry from decades ago, it might be time to resurface some of those pieces in your estate case. Curate thoughtfully and keep Heller’s advice in mind: “Because cuffs and stacked bracelet looks are also trending, a group of great sculptural silver bracelets that can be layered is a great way to add to your collection. I also love the look of a cool silver medallion on a black cord.”
And naturally I’d like to be first in line to take a look.
Top: Jill Heller (left) a New York–based stylist and vintage fine jewelry specialist says young collectors are drawn to vintage silver pieces for many reasons including “a feeling of nostalgia associated with silver that makes it appealing.” This sterling silver and enamel heart charm bracelet sold five minutes after she posted it on Instagram.
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