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How to curate your ideal fine jewellery collection

Kim Parker, executive fashion and jewellery director at Harper’s Bazaar, shares expert advice on building a unique jewellery collection to suit your style.

5 July 2022

With a dizzying array of beautiful jewellery to be found, we have never been more spoilt for choice when it comes to picking the pieces that will express our personal style. At the same time, the sheer number of jewels available can make creating the perfect jewelled wardrobe seem a daunting task. 

From choosing the everyday essentials that will elevate any outfit, to picking a truly showstopping gem that may become a future heirloom, read on for the expert advice you need to expand your options, invest wisely, and cultivate a treasured collection that will stand the test of time.

Start by refining your personal style

Before you go jewellery shopping, it helps to have a few of your own style must-haves in mind. Is your look eclectic, classic or more vintage? Are you pressed for time, and looking for sleek pieces that will take you from your desk to evening drinks? Or are you more of a maximalist who loves experimenting with colours and textures? 

If you need guidance, take a cue from your clothes, concentrating on the items that you wear on repeat to help you identify your tastes. Whatever your favoured look, ‘buy only what you love, no matter how much or little you’re looking to spend,’ advises jeweller Annoushka Ducas. ‘These pieces will hopefully be with you for a long time, so it makes sense to choose things that speak to you.’

Choosing precious metals and gemstones

‘There are no rules when it comes to mixing precious metals nowadays,’ says jeweller Kiki McDonough, although she admits to a preference for the fail-safe, complexion-flattering warmth of yellow gold. 

‘Yellow gold looks great on most skin tones, and works beautifully for everyday pieces, especially as you get older, and cooler metals begin to look harsher,’ agrees Ducas. When it comes to other options, romantic-looking rose gold has proven hugely popular over the past few years, while silver is currently enjoying a fashionable comeback. Meanwhile, white gold and platinum are often used in high jewellery pieces that are designed to last a lifetime (if not several). 

‘The best way to work out which metal suits you is simply to try it on,’ McDonough says. The same goes for choosing gemstones. ‘A client will often come into the store thinking they want a citrine or a peridot and, after trying a few different options, will leave with something completely different,’ she notes. ‘The right one will come alive against your skin, so it’s essential to try before you buy.’

The everyday style staples

The easiest base for any jewellery collection is a selection of understated pieces that will work with any outfit and can be worn every day. Look for simple studs, small hoop earrings (many come with interchangeable drops, which makes it easy to dress them up or down), fine bracelets and bangles, stackable rings and chain necklaces of differing lengths and gauges that can be combined for an effortlessly layered look. A pair of large hoops also looks great on everyone. ‘I wear my big Organza gold hoops all the time,’ says Ducas, who also rates delicate diamond or pearl jewellery as perfect for everyday wear.

Annouska Ducas Organza hoop earrings in 18k gold, £2,600
Kiki McDonough Classic hoops in yellow gold and diamonds, £600 
Monica Vinader Alta textured chain necklace, £115 
Anissa Kermiche pearl and 14k gold bracelet, £260 at Harvey Nichols
Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co. Olive Leaf pearl drop earrings, £510 
Goossens Paris Spirale 24k gold-dipped ring, £280 at Harvey Nichols 

Personalised pieces

These meaningful pieces are ideal for commemorating a special date or occasion and because they are imbued with emotion; they can become signature jewels around which entire collections are built. Seek out dainty name-plate necklaces in gold and diamonds, engravable signet rings, colourful charms, star-sign insignias and interesting birthstone pieces to add an extra dimension to your jewellery box.

Cassandra Goad gold quote pendant, £865 (without chain) 
Annoushka Ducas personalised gold chain letters necklace, from £900 
Kiki McDonough ring with green tourmaline, lemon quartz and peridot, £2,300 
Tateossian satin rose gold Kensington double drop earrings with sapphire and amethyst, £999 

Iconic investments

Have a bit more to invest? A diamond tennis bracelet – or its necklace counterpart, called a ‘rivière’ – is a timeless choice (look to Boodles for elegant options), as are iconic designs crafted by many of the world’s great luxury houses. Cartier’s Love bangles or Bulgari’s signature Serpenti pieces, for example, are considered time-honoured classics, while many fashion houses such as Chanel are fast becoming known for their audacious fine jewellery designs. Combining the realms of art and jewellery, these are pieces that attract serious aficionados.

Boodles platinum and diamond tennis bracelet, £10,350  
Cartier yellow gold Love bracelet, £5,950 
Bulgari Serpenti Seduttori ring in rose gold, rubellites and diamonds, £7,400 
Chanel yellow gold, white gold and diamond earrings, £8,900  
Dior yellow gold, mother of pearl and diamond necklace, £5,540 

The statement showstoppers

For truly special occasions, sometimes only a statement jewel will do. ‘If I had to buy one big piece, it would be a pair of knockout chandelier earrings,’ says McDonough. ‘They add immediate drama and draw everyone’s gaze to your face.’ Meanwhile, Ducas would opt for a fabulous cocktail ring, ‘because it’s the only item of jewellery you can really admire on yourself.’ 

And there’s definitely something to be said for the power of an eye-catching necklace, as modelled by Anna Wintour at almost every red-carpet event. ‘Whatever your preference, look out for amazing gemstones of the very best quality,’ advises Ducas. ‘These jewels are destined to become precious heirlooms in the future.’ 

Boodles white and yellow diamond necklace in platinum, price on request 
Chanel white gold and diamond ring, £14,750
Bulgari 18k rose gold and pavé diamond Serpenti earrings, £32,300
Anabela Chan Rainbow cascade gold and lab-grown gemstone earrings, £2,590 
Cartier High Jewellery gemstone and white gold ring, price on request 
Kim Parker is a London-based journalist specialising in luxury fashion, jewellery, and beauty. She has contributed to Town & Country, The Telegraph, Times Luxx and Condé Nast Traveller, and is currently executive fashion and jewellery director at Harper’s Bazaar.

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