Jewelry Wardrobe Basics

What does your jewelry wardrobe look like? Have you ever even thought about it?

We believe that your jewelry wardrobe should be given as much consideration as your clothing wardrobe—or perhaps more, since you are likely to keep the pieces in it much longer. Your jewelry wardrobe does not need to be expensive or extensive, but it should be well thought out and organized so that you can always look your best, utilize all the pieces you own, identify gaps for future purchases, and avoid buying duplicates. Taking stock of your jewelry wardrobe also helps you identify pieces you no longer wear that can be recycled and, most important, it gives you the ability to know exactly what looks best on you (and what does not!) instantly.

A well-rounded jewelry wardrobe includes at least some pieces from each of these categories—though certainly how much of any one category or item of jewelry depends on your own personal taste and possibly your pocketbook.

There are six guiding concepts to any jewelry wardrobe:

  • No two wardrobes are alike. Your jewelry wardrobe is a reflection of you and your own specific tastes. It shouldn’t be a duplicate of anyone else’s.

  • An item’s value is irrelevant. Don’t be afraid to pair a piece costing thousands of dollars with one costing a fraction of that. Mix and match and see what works well together.

  • Consider having a signature piece of jewelry, one you wear frequently. It may be that the actual piece is unique or it may be the way you wear it that makes it distinctly yours.

  • Have more than one outfit in your wardrobe. An outfit is a group of jewelry pieces you wear together and can range from casual to dressy. Some pieces of jewelry will coordinate with many different outfits. Again, mix and match and see what works.

  • You don’t have to have just one of anything. This includes your wedding band. Tastes change over time. Why not go with what you like?

  • Any jewelry you wear every day should be something you love wearing. Your everyday pieces should be in good condition, should work with the rest of your wardrobe, and should reflect a style you’d like to repeat in your other pieces. If your everyday jewelry is starting to show signs of wear, have it fixed, upgraded, or replaced.

Remember, your jewelry wardrobe is a reflection of your personal style.


Consider the Shape of Your Face

Understanding how earrings work with the shape of your face is key. Basically, earrings that repeat the overall shape of your face bring emphasis to its shape. Most fashion books will advise you to camouflage elements of your face that deviate from the oval shape, but we say whether to accentuate or downplay the shape of your face is entirely your choice. Take a look at the illustration of face shapes and the corresponding suggestions for flattering jewelry for each shape. (The full text of Jewelry Savvy offers a comprehensive look at face shapes and shows you how to deter-mine your customer’s face shape or your own.)

General Earring Tips

To focus maximum atten-tion on your face, wear your earrings no longer than your jawline. If you have a square jawline or a face where the jaw is wider than the hairline, you may find you prefer shorter earrings that visually stop above the jawline and deflect from emphasis at the lowest point of the face.

Additional Factors

Along with face shape, the ears, nose, and neck are also physical attributes that play important roles in determining which styles of earrings are most flattering to an individual. (These are all discussed at length in Jewelry Savvy.)


If you are having trouble choosing earrings for yourself, if you just don’t want to have to think about coordinating a pair with an outfit, or even if you’re choosing a gift of earrings for someone else, there are several shapes of earrings that work for most ears and most personality types:

  • Stud earrings of most any type (pearl, diamond, gemstone, or metal). Try to purchase in proportion to the size of the earlobes if possible.

  • Three-quarter-inch to 1-inch diameter shell-shape earrings.

  • Three-quarter-inch to 1-inch diameter round or oval hoop earrings.

All three of these styles are appropriate for a professional work environment, with the caveat that diamonds may be considered too flashy for daytime wear in the most conservative workplaces. A good rule of thumb for business is to wear earrings no larger than the diameter of a quarter or approximately 1 inch in height and width.

These three categories encompass hundreds and hundreds of styles. Keep at least one pair on hand for an all-purpose, not-too-much-thought-required option for any occasion.

Caroline Stanley is a third-generation jeweler who grew up behind the jewelry counter. After a decade in retail, she worked with various jewelry trade organizations. In 2002, she opened Red Jewel Inc., providing marketing, communications, and consulting to the fine-jewelry trade worldwide. She was the creative force behind Jewelers of America’s Jewelry 101 and the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Women in the Know. Today, she works on a variety of jewelry projects.

Cynthia Sliwa is a lawyer and certified image professional whose passion for vintage jewelry and desire to understand why certain styles of jewelry flatter certain individuals prompted her to study image consulting. In 2003, she utilized image consulting principles to create Apprecia Fine Jewelry, a line designed for full-figured women. As The Image Counselor, Sliwa speaks to businesses and associations about image-related issues and helps individuals develop their personal style.