All That Glitters: Winter Trends in Jewelry Chains

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By Ellen Steiber

In a season of glitter and glitz, jewelry chains are being worn with everything from jeans to formal gowns.  There’s a tremendous range of styles and metals being shown in chains.  The good news is that the whole spectrum works:  big, bold heavy chains, light, delicate ones, and everything in between.  Here then are some of the trends I’ve been noticing on line and in the fashion magazines:

Bold, open-link chains are more popular than ever.  If you want one elegant accessory, wear a big open link bracelet, sporting a single charm.  This is, of course, the classic Tiffany’s charm bracelet, with a single silver heart charm:


But the jeweler H. Stern and Diane Von Furstenberg have teamed up for a more intense version in the Sutra Bracelet, which features far bigger links, in either 18-K gold or pavé.  Its charm is a variation on the Tibetan endless knot.

Gucci, who has long incorporated images from the horse world into its jewelry, features an open-link, 18k rose-gold bracelet with some of the links shaped like miniature horse bits:


Gucci has also heralded the return of the I.D. bracelet.  Back when I was in high school, these bracelets were worn by boys and engraved with their names or initials.  It was then a thrill—and a major status symbol—for a girl to wear her boyfriend’s  I.D. bracelet.   My nieces, who are currently in high school, assure me that this is no longer a high school trend, but women have claimed the I.D. bracelets for themselves and are wearing them with their own inscriptions.  Gucci now features  sterling silver I.D. bracelets with the traditional curb-link chains:


The designer Derek Lam has taken note of this trend  and turned the classic I.D. bracelet  into a necklace.

Big, open-link necklaces remain very popular with casual, office, and evening wear.    Ippolita shows several of these open-link necklaces in varying lengths and thickness of link, including gold hammered links:

Another popular look that’s come back is the horn charm, now worn on long chains.  Originally, a small horn carved of coral worn to protect against the evil eye, this year the horns are several inches long and made of gemstones or silver or gold or ceramic, and they hang from long, sturdy chains. In this ad for her Tuberose Gardenia fragrance, Aerin Lauder pairs two of these classic horn necklaces with casual white.

Kenneth Jay Lane, master of fashion jewelry,  has also adopted the horn on the long chain:

Layering of chains, a look made famous by Coco Channel,  gives even the most feminine look an edge.   It’s  both assertive and extravagant, claiming the right to be unconventional and to have fun mixing and matching metals and styles.   Back in September—just after the blog on Fall Trends in Chains came out–the New York Times Fall Fashion Magazine showed  Halle Berry decked out in a black leather motorcycle jacket,  a red t-shirt, and layers of chains —thick pavé links around her neck and then layers of long chains, one made of smaller links wound through with black ribbon, and another made of long, oblong loops, and both of these long chains bearing big, bold charms—a gold heart and an enormous gold horseshoe, both set with transparent stones.  The look—tough and punk and tangled—recalls a young Marlon Brando in The Wild One and suggests  a rebel, a woman who isn’t interested in the confines of what’s proper and instead chooses a kind of chaos that is both gloriously unique and irresistibly cool.

Another look in long chains is the station chain necklace—usually a long delicate chain broken up by “stations” made of  gems, beads,  or charms.   I’ve seen a number of station necklaces with colorful enamel four-leaf clovers that are both elegant and fun.   These work either stand-alone or  layered.

Delicate chain necklaces, like strands of pearls, are classics that will never golong chains is the station chain necklace out of fashion.  What’s interesting to me is that delicate chains used to indicate an innocent or ladylike quality.    Actually, the title character in CBS’s The Good Wife, almost always wears delicate chains with a single gemstone pendant or charm, and those necklaces do, in fact, emphasize her character’s grace, restraint, and elegance.  (As opposed to the necklaces made of heavy black links worn by the head-of-the-law-firm, Diane Lockhart.)  But in recent ad campaigns, these delicate “ladylike” chains are often used to emphasize the models’ bold, unapologetic sexuality .   Have a look at Dolce & Gabanna’s ad for their new fragrances.  The model, sultry and sexy as all get out, wears a low-cut top, and a beautiful delicate gold chain necklace with heart locket.

Or, for a western flavor, there’s the delicate lariat-style chain necklace worn with open denim shirts by model Emily DiDonato in a series of ads for True Religion jeans.

Both the True Religion and Dolce & Gabanna  ads take the old rule—delicate chains equal shy, feminine innocence– and turn it inside out:  Delicate chains draw your eye to the aura of  a sensuous woman.  So if you’re planning on wearing a revealing top or simply looking hot, consider a delicate chain.

A number of designers are showing large chains—round double links in the case of Oscar de la Renta—with huge, glitzy multi-stone pendants hanging just below the collar bone.   Lanvin de Paris calls theirs a “medal necklace” and uses different chains on each side of the pendant:

De la Renta also shows a statement necklace/collar made of round  gold links:

This year, though, the ultimate look in winter jewelry chains may be Dior’s ad for J’adore  perfume, which features Charlize Theron in a glittering extravaganza of gold chains. This is a case where the jewelry is the dress:

The look is a fantasy of golden winter chains, form fitting and draped, in all their sparkling glory, a look we can only adore.

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