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There’s a certain kind of romance that comes with investing in a piece of vintage jewelry, like writing new chapters in a well-worn book. And with the fashion industry’s collective shift toward sustainability and secondhand fashion, the best vintage jewelry is an ideal way to mindfully bring new items into your wardrobe.
On top of that, it’s also a nuanced approach to connecting with your personality and sense of style. These pieces of wearable history can imbue your look with a sense of nostalgia or glamour that might otherwise be difficult to achieve with solely contemporary baubles. For instance, a T-shirt-and-jeans combination can be elevated from everyday status to exceptional when accessorized with a pair of Yves Saint Laurent drop earrings circa 1970s. The more history and cultural context the piece has to offer, the better the outfit. Ahead, shop our edit of vintage-jewelry essentials for one-of-a-kind ideas.
Crafted in sleek metals and artful silhouettes, some of the best examples of vintage chokers manifest boldly. Layer over a white T-shirt for an instant lift or with a crisp poplin shirt for a dash of modern minimalism.
Heavy metal chain links have been a jewelry staple off and on over the decades and translate particularly well in the bracelet category. Wear them stacked above a menswear watch or with delicate thin chains—it’s a layering crown jewel.
Craft Cocktail Rings
The concept of a cocktail ring feels innately old-school in the sense that it’s reserved for celebratory, formal occasions. Embrace the art of getting dressed up by keeping a vintage option in your jewelry box.
Not for the faint of heart, a bold pendant necklace is a staple find in the vintage-jewelry category, and iconic houses like YSL and Celine are reliable sources for these wearable works of art.
Vintage jewelry isn’t all about the bold brooch or extravagant string of pearls. There are also subtler pieces to discover, like these gold rings accented by gemstones in unique settings and cuts.
Skip the solo strand and head straight for one of these examples of multilayered pearl necklaces and bracelets. This traditional gemstone pairs well with something contemporary, like a gauzy blouse or sheer dress.
No vintage-jewelry edit is complete without mention of the clip-on earring—it’s a staple find in the retro-accessory category, and gold-hoop interpretations feel especially relevant at the moment.
Make Iris Apfel proud and enliven your wrists with a stack of bold resin cuffs. With examples from iconic designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin, it’s not hard to see the appeal in this splashy statement piece.
Charmed, I’m Sure
String together several petite pendants on a chain for a unique-to-you necklace that feels reminiscent of the charm bracelet.
The statement earring is called such because it tends to elicit a “Where’d you get those?” Add a historical talking point to your look by making them a vintage pair from Lanvin or Christian Dior.