In the world of fashion, trends come and go every season, and jewelry is no exception. Starting in the '90s and continuing into the early 2000s, silver became the star of many a jewel box, knocking gold out of its top spot. But in recent years, gold has become the object of women’s affection, taking its place once again in the spotlight.
Gold is shiny, bright, warm. It's something that's precious.
Raychel Huff, jewelry designer
Making a Comeback
Take a look back to the days of Ancient Egypt, and you’ll see that gold has always been a highly sought-after item. “There’s been a consumer interest in gold since about 2000 B.C.,” said Kenneth Jay Lane, a jewelry designer who has crafted unique pieces for women like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor. “Gold has always been the preference for adornment.”
But despite its storied history, gold has gone in and out of popularity, most recently falling out of favor in the past two decades. During this period, consumers saw what Ray Griffiths -- an Australian fine-jewelry designer with a celebrity client list that includes Debra Messing and Brooke Shields -- called “art jewelry,” in which designers experimented with metals like titanium, aluminum and silver.
Now, however, consumers are craving something different. “The art of the craft has come back,” Griffiths said. “People want to see finely crafted gold jewelry.”
They also want to see a return to '70s fashion, and that includes jewelry, says Sophie Blake, a New York-based jewelry designer. “The '70s were known for the bohemian look and sophisticated glamour,” Blake said. “It was all about sparkle and plenty of bling.”
Another factor in the reappearance of gold? The economy. With gold prices on the rise, the value of gold jewelry has skyrocketed, and consumers desire it now more than ever. “With the recession, we’re at a point in time where we want to add a richness back to our dressing, and gold really does that,” said Joyce Huang, marketing director at Fantasy Jewelry Box, an online retailer of celebrity- and designer-inspired jewelry. “When you think of gold, it brings to mind Cleopatra or royalty or something really decadent that we’re looking to add back into our life at this point.”
Because of the unstable economy, consumers want to find value in everything they purchase, including gold. “People hold back from buying everything and save up to buy something of quality and value, something that will last,” said Raychel Huff, a Southern California-based metalsmith and creator of Fruition Jewelry. “We equate gold with money, plus it has that attraction: It’s shiny, bright, warm. It’s something that’s precious.”
Gold: A Girl's Best Friend
Now that gold -- what Huff calls “the face of modern glamour” -- is back in action, women are clamoring to make this look their own.
Lisa McLatchie, an image consultant who was trained by “What Not to Wear” host Stacy London, says designers are now creating modern takes on classic gold pieces. “They’re the ones who really dictate the trends, and that’s what people want to follow,” she said. “The whole fad of minimalism is dying, and there’s nothing really minimalistic about gold.”
Whether you wear it as a cocktail ring on a night out or as a classic watch in the office, gold makes you stand out while looking sophisticated. “Sterling silver is always going to be great, but there is somewhat of a casual feel to it,” Huang said. “When you get the richness of yellow gold, it elevates you to another level.”
And while both solid-gold jewelry and gold-plated costume jewelry -- such as a chunky bib necklace or an armful of bangles -- is all the rage right now, be careful not to go overboard when dressing up your look.
“I would recommend one gold statement piece, like a pair of earrings with a crop turtleneck sweater and a maxi skirt [for the fall],” Blake said, “or a large cuff to pair with high-waist pants and a cream-colored blouse.”
Perhaps one of the best things about gold is its ability to match almost any color, says McLatchie. Try wearing it with black, navy or white, and pair it with jewel-toned clothing to make the colors pop.
Just because gold is popular again doesn’t mean you should throw out your silver. In fact, many jewelry experts advise you to wear the “rival” metals together. “At one point, everything was matchy-matchy -- gold with gold and silver with silver,” Huff said. “But now, all the different colors are blending well.”
If you’re ready to mix and match your metals, make sure you’re willing to go bold and experiment, says Talya Cousins, merchandising director at OpenSky.com, a social networking and shopping site that connects members with personalities like Molly Sims and Kristin Cavallari.
“Try new combinations, and mix materials,” she said. “There is no one standard now, and often less-conventional pairings like gold and silver can have the most impact. Gold can also be gorgeous with wood, fabric and leather.”
But while this mixed metal trend is growing, not everyone may be able to -- or want to -- pull it off. “Some people like a lot more jewelry and some don’t,” Griffiths said. “The person who can wear the silver and the gold and mix it all up and layer it all up ... that’s because they love jewelry.”
The Future Looks Bright (and Sparkly)
Many fashion trends are lucky to stick around for a season or two, much less a few years. And while gold has done the disappearing act before, some designers and jewelry experts believe that gold is here to stay. “Gold jewelry will never go away,” Huang said.
“It’s just come back into style,” McLatchie added. “And, obviously, trends can come and go so quickly, but it’s been slowly reintroduced into the mainstream,” giving it staying power.
Huff says that classic styles with a modern twist, such as bangles, simple necklaces and hoop earrings, will most likely stick around for years.
Cousins notes that gold’s emotional value will also keep it on consumers’ wish lists for decades to come. “Jewelry can be so personal, often sentimental and, let’s not forget, durable,” she said. “It’s also what you’ll most likely want to pass on to your children and grandchildren.”
But as for the trend of gold costume jewelry, Huang predicts it will be more fleeting. “That trend will definitely wane off within the next couple of years,” she said. “But I’m sure that within a few years, a new type of gold trend jewelry will re-emerge.”
Stop and Wear the Rose Gold
White and yellow gold aren't the only precious metals being snapped up by jewelry lovers -- rose gold is catching their eye, too. Rose gold, which is made by adding copper when creating gold jewelry, last saw major success during the early part of the 20th century.
“In the '20s or '30s, it was really popular for engagements and for royalty,” Huang said. “It does give a more classic look, and it’s a warmer look,” McLatchie said.
Because of this warmth, it works well for women with lighter skin tones, says Blake. “Women with a fair complexion might feel that gold can overpower them, but I think they just need the right tone of gold,” such as rose, she said.
- Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images