When you think of ‘80s jewelry, bright colors, and wild designs are the first things that may come to your mind. But the fashion jewelry of that decade was a lot more than just bright colors, and unusual styles.
The trends of wearing tiny earrings and little pendants were changing in the 80s, catering more to bolder fashion statements that reflect the wearer's individual taste and style. More and more women started joining the workforce and they were eager to create their own identity. Coupled with this was the burgeoning 80s party scene, which transformed the jewelry trends into a medium of personal expression.
People were wearing neon pink, using hairsprays, and applying shoulder pads. To match these unique and somewhat flashy fashion trends, jewelry had to become large and eye-catching.
From oversize earrings to huge beaded necklaces and neon bracelets, the 80s trends were more about expressing individuality. The celebrities also embraced them and created their own unique styles that inspired millions.
The 80s fashion scenes were studded with many iconic figures, from Princess Diana to pop star Madonna and actress Brooke Shields to legendary singer Cyndi Lauper. People wanted to stand out; the masses followed them and also created their own identity with the 80s costume jewelry.
JEWELRY OF THE ‘80s: Reflective of Women's Purchasing Power
The tendency to create an individual identity transcended the field of fashion jewelry. Women were making statements in every walk of life, and they made sure their fashions followed suit.
The changing status of women in the 1980s might have done more to influence that decade’s fashions than any other cultural trend.
The 1980s saw a huge increase of women not just in the workforce, but in high-powered and high-earning positions. These women asserted themselves in ways that had been nearly impossible in previous decades thanks to new career paths and increasing legal and economic rights.
The dainty, feminine aesthetic that had defined their mothers’ wardrobes didn’t work for the new class of female doctors, lawyers, and executives. They used fashion to show that they were just as strong and capable as the men who had dominated their fields for decades.
For clothing, power suits and androgynous cuts helped women make a place for themselves in a male-dominated world. These styles demanded jewelry with more weight and structure.
The increase of women in the workforce did more than just change the styles of jewelry they preferred. It also changed how they bought their jewelry.
Until the 1970s, women did not even have the right to open their own bank accounts and have credit cards. A decade later, their economic power had increased massively.
Women didn’t have to wait to receive jewelry as a gift anymore. Making their own money and controlling their own finances, women had more freedom to make their own choices when it came to buying jewelry.
For working women, buying luxurious jewelry made a statement about their own accomplishments. Jewelers recognized that and began tailoring their styles to meet the tastes of women who wanted to display their success.
Wearing a large piece of statement jewelry did more than just show a woman’s personal tastes. It also showed her financial independence.
JEWELRY TRENDS IN THE ‘80s
1- The ‘80s Jewelry Trend: Large Statement Pieces
The ‘80s were all about bold fashion statements, and the jewelry was no different.
For decades, women had mostly worn smaller, daintier pieces of jewelry. Matching sets of delicate, feminine pieces complimented the styles of the mid-20th century.
‘80s jewelry broke this trend, though.
The countercultures of the 1960s and ‘70s had started the trend of using fashion as a form of expression. By the 1980s, statement fashion had become mainstream. By the end of the decade, items were big, bold, and unique enough to become statement pieces.
This trend toward making a statement applied to more than just jewelry. The 1980s were a decade that celebrated individuality and freedom.
One of the best ways to make a piece of jewelry bolder and larger was to use gold. Instead of delicate chains and small settings, jewelry designers worked with larger pieces of precious metals to make jewelry that fit the bold new fashion trends.
Large and bold gold necklaces and bracelets,Vogue US, August 1985
Of course, adding more precious metals made the best jewelry much more expensive. Jewelers in the 1980s had to be creative to keep the cost of their products from being too high to appeal to buyers.
One way to do this was to mix metals. Instead of using only gold, many pieces mixed gold and another somewhat less expensive metal, like silver.
Silver had been out of style in the 1970s, but in the ‘80s it made a huge comeback. Whether alone or paired with gold, silver helped to keep the big styles of ‘80s jewelry affordable.
Mixing metals became so popular that it was embraced even with more expensive metals.
Consumers loved the high-contrast look of pairing gold with platinum, which was not a widespread phenomenon in the past.
‘80s jewelry used new and unique designs, but metalworking at the time also looked to the past for inspiration. Textured metals, which had been popular in the 1940s, gave more variety than plain gold and silver.
Folding and winding satin brushed, and crystalized textures were the techniques for creating a variety of new looks. Hard metal could imitate fabric, flower petals, and textiles through the use of texture.
Some fashions in the 1980s looked even further to the past. Etruscan, Egyptian, and Japanese antiques inspired many jewelers to try different metalworking techniques.
3- The '80s Jewelry Trend: Melee Diamonds and Large Colorful Gemstones
Of course, metal wasn't the only element for making jewelry. ‘80s jewelry used gemstones in new ways as well.
Diamonds had been one of the most popular jewelry materials for hundreds of years. While their popularity didn’t decrease in the ‘80s, the way they were often used did.
The fashion jewelry in the ‘80s was to use settings and designs that took advantage of smaller stones. Rather than a single large diamond, an earring or ring would feature dozens of melee diamonds in ever more intricate designs.
$32.00 Materials: High-quality copper alloyComes in gold and silver platingGlass rhinestonesClosure:Post studsMeasurements:1.89" (4.8 cm) Weight:0.49 oz (13.9 g) Allergy information:Hypoallergenic. All of our products are in line with the Jewelry Quality Assurance standards. Care Instructions:Keep jewelry away from any moisture and liquid cosmetics and… Read More
80s Big Star Drop Earrings
Materials: High-quality copper alloyComes in gold and silver platingGlass rhinestonesClosure:Post studsMeasurements:1.89" (4.8 cm) Weight:0.49 oz (13.9 g) Allergy information:Hypoallergenic. All of our products are in line with the Jewelry Quality Assurance standards. Care Instructions:Keep jewelry away from any moisture and liquid cosmetics and… Read More
Multi-stone settings added sparkle and richness while making use of much smaller stones.
Sometimes, though, a large stone was still the best way to make a major statement. Jewelers looked beyond traditional diamond settings to make a statement.
Colored gemstones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds became more popular than ever.
JEWELRY STYLES IN THE ‘80s
EARRINGS IN THE‘80s
Likely the most notable types of jewelry in the 80s were earrings. Nowadays, people often go for discrete earrings – with even the larger ones looking like they are barely there. On the opposite, 80s earrings were usually over-the-top and huge.
1- The ‘80s Earrings Trend: Large Earrings
Everyone was going crazy over oversized earrings, going from very large clip-ons to dramatic hoops. They were made from a variety of materials, including steel and plastic.
Large chandelier earrings, tassels, and mismatched earrings were also a hit back then.
2- The ‘80s Earrings Trend: Door Knocker Earrings
Large door knocker earrings were all fashionable in the ‘80s.
$29.00 Materials: Zinc alloy Colorful rhinestones Enamel Closure:Push-back Allergy information:Hypoallergenic. All of our products are in line with the Jewelry Quality Assurance standards. Care Instructions:Keep jewelry away from any moisture and liquid cosmetics and water. We suggest storing your jewelry separately in… Read More
80s Enamel Earrings With Rhinestones
Materials: Zinc alloy Colorful rhinestones Enamel Closure:Push-back Allergy information:Hypoallergenic. All of our products are in line with the Jewelry Quality Assurance standards. Care Instructions:Keep jewelry away from any moisture and liquid cosmetics and water. We suggest storing your jewelry separately in… Read More
With that in mind, not all earrings were brightly coloredand funky. You could also come across some fairly elegant and sophisticated pieces, in neutral and warm colors. Mostly, it depended on your style, along with the occasion and place where you were planning on wearing them.
3- The '80s Earrings Trend: Big Button Earrings
Besides 80s hoop earrings, pieces having button pearls and chic styles were also popular. Enamel and multicolored designs with pearls, diamonds or rhinestones evoke the decade's iconic glamor.
Gold disc earrings were hotcakes but people also loved faux pearls and gemstones on them, particularly designed in stud earrings as well as clip-on backs.
NECKLACES IN THE '80s
1- The '80s Necklace Trend: Multi-Strand Pearls
In the 80s, people were obsessed with beads in any form, whether they were expensive pearls or cheaper plastic.
During those times, you could see huge pendants and faux pearls everywhere. Pearls were particularly popular, with women wearing“ropes and ropes” of fake pearlsof a variety of colors. Often, they would be worn in many strands one over the other, hanging at different lengths around the neck.
More unique and versatile designs largely replaced the classic single-strand pearl necklaces that were quite common in the mid-20th century. Multi-strand necklaces became more popular, as did longer strands that were doubled or knotted. Often, gold beads and spacers or small diamonds accented these pieces.
2- The '80s Necklace Trend: Pearl Chokers
The 80s charm necklace was also popular with its bright colors and mismatched charms. People also loved large gemstones and pearls, which were very common in the 80s choker style. Princess Diana embraced this particular style very well.
Elegant Multilayer Pearl Necklace
This Elegant Multilayer Pearl Necklace will add a finishing touch to your evening gown. Four layers of pearls are held together by metal closures and a textured pendant that features rhinestone accents that produce a dazzling sparkle. A pearly white… Read More
3- The '80s Necklace Trend: Heavy Chains
Innovative techniques also made both gold and silver more accessible in the 1980s. Hollow chains, for example, gave the big look that was in style with less weight.
BROOCHES IN THE '80s
The 80s was the pioneer of many trends and it also brought back the lost love for brooches. However, the designers called for a makeover and made them larger and more striking to keep up with the ongoing style.
Now, large brooches might seem like they are out of date – but back then, they were all the rage. Brooches were pinned to the front of their clothing, with large and dramatic results as with other jewel trends of the period.
A lot of the designers were inspired by nature, featuring floral motifs, insects, vines leaves, and other natural designs. There were also other types of jewelry that contained gemstones, faux pearls, all of which were set in gold-plated materials.
RINGS IN THE‘80s
1- The '80s Ring Trend: Cocktail Rings
80s rings were a perfect match for the blooming cocktail party scene of that time. Cocktail rings featuring large, striking gemstones represented the most popular choice to go for. Available in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes, they nicely captured the spirits of wealth and confidence of that decade.
The stunning sapphire engagement ring worn by the future Princess Diana in 1981 helped to open people’s eyes to the beauty of these gems.
2- The '80s Ring Trend: Big Rings
Rings were seen as statement pieces that would complement the outfit, but also the other accessories you were wearing. Big rings were very popular, but also metallic ones with various designs and patterns. The bigger, the better.
3- The '80s Ring Trend: Stackable Rings
“Stackable” rings were also a must in the 80s. These rings were sold separately but were often designed to be worn together. They would either have the same style but feature contrasting gems or were made from the same materials with different patterns. They had to look different, but at the same time, they needed to have some common ground.
BRACELETS IN THE‘80s
1- The '80s Bracelet Trend: Colorful Gemstone Bracelets
Bracelets were an essential part of the 80s costume jewelry and fashion world.
In the 80s, stacking bracelets were very popular, with people using multiple of these bracelets or bangles at the same time. With that in mind, those who did not want to stack different types of bracelets could either opt for just one thick bangle or a cuff with the style that they liked.
Nautilus Charm Bracelet
Materials:Zinc castingBlue and green resin gemstonesGold plating Closure:Spring ring Measurements:L 7.8" (20 cm) Pair this beautiful bracelet with the matching earrings and necklace.… Read More
2- The '80s Bracelet Trend: Jelly Bracelets
The "Queen of Pop" Madonna made layered and jelly bracelets extremely popular among young people.
Jelly bracelets were quite trendy around that time, whether they were in simple bright shades (normally bright pink or other statement colors) or patterns such as animal print. Moreover, people would often pick a color and a pattern, matching them to be in contrast.
When it came to teenagers, neon-colored bracelets were very popular, stacked over one another. They were colorful, fun, and full of life.
3- The '80s Bracelet Trend: Friendship Bracelets
The charm and friendship bracelets from that era have survived the test of time and made their way into the 21st century.
How to Wear Jewelry Like It’s the 80s
Regardless of the time that you are in, you can still rock jewelry as if you were still in the 80s. You just need to get the right accessories and match them properly. Here are just a few ways in which the “80s kids” wore them to express a fashion statement.
· Large Pieces:We’ve said it once, and we’re saying it again – if you want to become a true 80s fashionista, then you need to go for something bold and large. Pick up some big pieces such as stacked bracelets, cuffs, cocktail rings, and statement necklaces and wear them together.
· Bold Colors:In the 80s, primary colors and neon colors were pretty much everywhere – from jewelry to makeup. The brighter and bolder the colors, the more you will be able to make a statement. Even if you go for neutral colors, the design should be large enough or at least intricate enough to scream “it’s the 80s”.
· Dramatic Earrings:Bracelets and rings were a must-have – but something that was never absent from someone’s daily outfits was the earrings. They needed to be as dramatic as they possibly could be. Large statement earing and oversized hoops should be your go-to – a piece of fashion that is slowly but surely coming back into trend these days.
While the styles of clothing we wear today might be different, ‘80s jewelry still provides the versatility we love. You may want to avoid the dramatic and flashy part but gold, pearls, and gems can still add elegance on date night, a sense of authority at the office, or even drama by the poolside.