Question: how does one dress for a selfie? Answer: statement earrings. Not since the ’80s have such loud ear accruements been so prevalent. But today the rules are different. Whereas once costume jewellery was excessively piled on with a full face of make-up and bouffant hair, today it is an accent to oversized shirting and distressed denim; the focal point of the “no make-up” make-up look and abbreviated elfin hairdos. Earrings (or earring, singular) can create a sense of personality for someone who dresses simply. It can even create an entire look for a FaceTime or Skype conversation, even if one’s bottom half is still dressed for sleep. Essentially, statement earrings are what shoes were to Carrie Bradshaw for a generation who wear Stan Smiths.
It’s no longer just costume jewellery that veers towards bold statements, but the most traditional of fine jewellers too. Across the board, the styles are bigger, brighter, flashier and more sculptural than ever, and some of them even extend way below the shoulder. They could be architectural sculptures in mismatched colours, sizes and stones, made of fringed shoulder-grazing chainmail, singular hammered-gold Matisse shapes, or ornate hoops of baroque proportions. Restrained diamond or pearl drops they are certainly not.
“What I love is that it is so mainstream which is unusual for a jewellery trend because often things are shown on the runway and then people won’t wear it,” says Carol Woolton, British Vogue’s jewellery editor. “It’s Topshop and H&M; it’s Piaget and Chopard; it’s Céline and Marni. Literally everybody is into big statement earrings.”
“I get some sort of sense of completion to an outfit from it,” says Tilly Macalister-Smith, founder of @earafterear (an Instagram account dedicated to statement earrings in all their variations) and senior director of content at Diane von Furstenberg. Earrings are also easy to adopt. “It’s not like dying your hair where you have to commit to it; it’s not as if it’s a fabulous winter coat that is thousands of dollars. It’s just a little bit of fun and I think people still love that transformative effect of fashion.”
There’s also the changing face of the jewellery industry itself. “Fine jewellery is becoming more fashion influenced, and the price point between fashion jewellery and fine jewellery is narrowing,” says Patti Worth, jewellery buyer at MatchesFashion.com. “Statement earrings account for a huge part of our business and it’s only growing, so much so that we now have to narrow down on sub-categories.”
Worth is keen to point out the return rate on earrings is often lower than other categories as there are less issues concerning sizing and fit. They can also be an ideal gift. For Worth, Simone Rocha and J.W. Anderson are two of the most popular fashion-cum-jewellery designers (both brand’s earrings range from about $120 to $380), as well as Rebecca de Ravenel’s tiers of baubles ($330 to $380) and Anissa Kermiche’s quietly loud ear sculptures ($240 to $1,325). A spokesperson on MyTheresa.com’s buying team concurs. “The brands that are most popular at the moment are Simone Rocha, J.W. Anderson, Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Gucci, Balenciaga and Oscar de la Renta,” she says. “The statement earrings even get bigger and more creative every season.”
“Women play with androgynous looks, they have short hair and no make-up — earrings act as a new precious makeup,” says Delfina Delettrez, 40 percent of whose fine jewellery business is contributed by earrings. “I have now gone back to designing ‘couples’ after having introduced and worked on the single earring for many years. I like to wear one micro and one macro”.