Skip to main content

Spring Jewelry Trends Are Totally '80s

Styles reviving the decade include costume jewelry fashioned from natural elements like wood, leather, horn, and seashells, vividly hued statement pieces, over-sized chains and pearls.
Jay Feinberg (Strongwater) resin bead and rhinestone necklace, 1980s.

Jay Feinberg (Strongwater) resin bead and rhinestone necklace, 1980s.

One of the things many collectors adore about costume jewelry is the opportunity to combine their hobby with making a unique personal statement. Whether shooting for the “advanced style” look dressing head to toe in vintage, or simply the desire to own accessories reaching beyond the ordinary, you’ll find lots of options with collectible costume jewelry.

What makes it even better? You can often get the same look for much less than what you’d pay shopping retail. Here are some spring trends to watch for when you’re out thrifting and combing your favorite flea markets for baubles this spring or shopping online.

Wood, Nuts, Shells, Leather, Bone and Horn

Styles reviving the ’80s are back in a big way. This includes jewelry fashioned from natural elements like wood, leather, horn, and seashells. When it comes to vintage pieces (and yes, 1980s jewelry is very much vintage now), this is certainly one way you can get the look for less.

Many chunky tribal and bohemian style necklaces made of wood are available in the vintage marketplace. Look for perfect-for-stacking bangle bracelets crafted of wood as well. Add a few pieces with shell or mother of pearl embellishments and leather accents for even more stylish flair. And if you haven’t heard of it, look up Monies jewelry by Gerda Lynggaard. It’s not always cheap, but a great option for vintage styles in this realm.

Also keep in mind that jewelry designers today are using bone and horn more and more to get the look of ivory. One thing to be wary of is vintage jewelry marketed as bone or horn that might actually be genuine ivory instead. While some people are adamant about not wanting to own ivory no matter the age, no one wants to get stuck with something they can’t ever honestly sell in the future, so buyer beware. Look toward vintage ivory-colored plastics – often called “resin” when the exact type of plastic is not identifiable – as a safer bet.

Kenneth Jay Lane resin bead and wood necklace, early-2000s.

Kenneth Jay Lane resin bead and wood necklace, early-2000s.

Colorful Jewelry

Color is back as well when it comes to making a jewelry statement. Browse through a few recent celebrity and runway photos online, and you’ll find a variety of vividly hued statement earrings, bold necklaces, and stacks of bangle bracelets in contemporary styles. Think about jewelry worn in the 1980s, including many enameled and resin pieces, and you’ll have a great starting point for buying vintage to capitalize on this trend.

Look for vintage pieces with large faux gemstone embellishments, cabochons mimicking coral, jade and other gemstones, and glass beads in bright shades. Many pieces from the 1960s will fit the bill for adding color to your jewelry wardrobe as well. Unmarked examples offer the greatest opportunity for bargains.

Oversized Chains

Take another look back at the 1980s for lots of chunky chain jewelry options. I’m not just talking gold-plated metal, although there are some supersized vintage options in metallics that do totally rock. Oversized chains are, and have been, made of every material imaginable. Some incorporate long rhinestone-encrusted links like those sold by Kenneth Jay Lane in years past. You’ll also find other materials ranging from resin in many different colors, including faux tortoiseshell, faux ivory, and wood, in shorter lengths providing lots of crossover trend bang for the buck.

No one rocked ‘80s fashion better than Madonna. The Material Girl set the fashion scene, especially with her mid-decade look from the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.

No one rocked ‘80s fashion better than Madonna. The Material Girl set the fashion scene, especially with her mid-decade look from the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.

Mismatched and Single Earrings

Now this is an idea you can really have some fun with while taking personal statement to an entirely new level.

Pairing a fantastic statement earring with a coordinating rhinestone or bead cluster offers lots of options. Most collectors have a stash of single earrings looking for mates that can now be put to good use while this trend is still sizzling. Designers are also marketing single earrings now.

The key when wearing one earring, according to fashion mavens, is to pick a style that really stands on its own. If you have admired vintage earrings that have just seemed like “too much” in the past, take a chance on them now by donning just one. Also look for more fabulous vintage earrings missing their mates to come on the market now as sellers take note of this craze.

Philippe Ferrandis Paris statement earrings, 1980s.

Philippe Ferrandis Paris statement earrings, 1980s.

Long Necklaces, Lariats and “Y” Necklaces

Harkening back to necklaces of the early 1960s, tassel jewelry is having its moment yet again. This is definitely one look you can achieve for far less than paying retail by shopping vintage. In addition to long “Y” necklaces terminating in a tassel, no-clasp lariat styles with two tasseled ends are back as well. These have gone in and out of style for decades. Think long ropes of flapper beads dating to the 1920s and mesh chain styles with dangling beads going back to the 1950s and ’60s as you shop.

Pearl Jewelry

Many styles of pearl jewelry being marketed right now offer inspiration for recycling necklaces and bracelets from 1950s and ’60s. Everyone had at least one strand of pearl jewelry – whether real or simulated – in their jewelry wardrobe back then, and this popularity has yielded a glut in the vintage marketplace.

So instead of paying hundreds for a new single- or double-strand you can buy vintage for far less in a variety of sizes and colors. This is also a great time to pass grandma’s pearls to someone in your family if you have several options for wearing already. And don’t forget the earrings. Pairs ranging from round studs to lovely baroque pearl drops are in once again. When shopping for oldies, look toward Miriam Haskell jewelry for lovely options.

Now that you have a few ideas, go forth and shop. You’ll be amazed at how much history repeats itself in the jewelry world, and you might very well be able to keep your budget in check updating your wardrobe with vintage accessories.

Miriam Haskell faux pearl necklace, 1950s.

Miriam Haskell faux pearl necklace, 1950s.

Weekly Showcase



Over 100 YEARS of Chinese History - Our pristine Jade Collection is extensive and beautiful!