Let’s talk jewelry. Why? Because it’s sparkly, and pretty, and fun to wear? Well, yes, but there’s more to the story. Let’s talk jewelry at work. As usual, I’m talking conservative work environments, in law, finance, or technology, where you can change the effect of a black suit and white shirt simply by switching out, let’s say, that 18-inch strand of angelskin coral beads for a silver pendant.
More precisely, because these dress codes are labyrinthine in nature, let’s talk about pieces that are neither I’m-an-executive-so-deal-with-it, nor your starter pearls. Madeleine Albright, for example, had a brooch collection and wore one every day. That’s executive bravado. We’ve all seen starter pearls, and understand their role.
But there comes a time in your career when you start to feel the swell of an upward trajectory. What then?
I recommend jewelry that can pass for normal, but isn’t. Not quite. The necklaces below all look like fairly generic pendants, from afar. Jennifer Meyer’s medallion, on closer glance, sports symbols of luck. Elizabeth Locke, a favorite of mine, uses Venetian glass and heavy gold chains, to inch you very close to executive territory. And if you work in a traditional High WASP industry, for a traditional boss, in a traditional geography, flaunt your adherence to those same traditions with a monogram. A little one, just big enough for the interested to decode.
How about earrings? How many posts, and how many white pearl studs, can one woman wear in a lifetime? From Vicente Agor, a San Francisco designer whose work is quite original, these transparent quartz earrings dangle without visual weight. All the fun, no visible folly. The hoops are also his, just hoops, plain gold hoops, but transformed by hints of Morocco. What more subversive than the hookahs, tiles and sins of an imagined Morocco? I imagine Moroccan reality is quite different, but then that’s the role of reality, isn’t it?
Or, if you must, keep to the world of small and precious, but embrace gold pearls, not white, and briolettes.
Now, it’s been known to happen, not infrequently, for a career to tick upward while the pay scale lags. Similar jewelry choices can be found on a budget closer to entry level. J. Crew offers a collection of vintage-style necklaces. Beladora2 carries estate jewelry for a good deal less than the cost of new. And the pair on the right can be found at Anthropologie.
I doubt I need to caution you about “statement pieces,” i.e. large bib necklaces of enlaced enameled ovals. You’re speaking the language of appropriate excellence here, and the only expansive statement should come from your bank. Don’t forget to contribute to your 401K. If you can excuse some obvious word-play, early retirement makes a statement all its own.