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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Minimalist Jewelry Style for Women

Nothing has been more difficult for me to simplify & minimize than my beauty routine, including what jewelry that I want to wear to complement my looks. Shoes & clothes never concerned me too much- but jewelry & makeup are my weaknesses. That said, it can be done, and you can still look good while being a minimalist.

For some people, being a minimalist means wearing one pair of high-quality stud earrings every single day, never changing them. This is especially true if those earrings were picked out especially for them, are set in a good metal, and are of their favorite material and/or gemstone. For others, minimalism means wearing the same set of pieces every day. I see some ladies wear a chain with a pendant on it day after day (usually diamond) without fail- the jewelry just becomes a part of them. Others drop it down to just a watch & their wedding band. There's no right of wrong way to go about this. There are a few suggestions I can make, though.

Costume jewelry is enjoyable to wear for some people, even a passion to collect for others. But only in rare cases does it ever become a collectible item, because costume pieces tend to wear out so much quicker than fine jewelry & were so cheap to begin with that by the time they're old enough to assume "antique" status, they're not in hot shape anymore. I don't personally recommend buying costume jewelry, if your goal is minimalism & simplicity. It can't be viewed as a good investment, in my humble opinion. It can be made out of a material which causes allergic reactions, such as a cheap metal, plastic or paint- this can include stained (green) fingers from rings, oozing from earlobe piercing holes (again, cheap materials) & rashes. It takes up valuable storage room. Cheap pieces of jewelry oxidize faster, becoming ugly to wear much more quicker than pieces made of fine gold & gemstones. Silver tarnishes more if it isn't worn regularly, so if you know you won't be wearing the piece much, either buy storage for your silver with a special tarnish-resistant treatment in the lining, or don't buy it at all. Silver is much more easily dented than solid gold, as well.

Watches are less important to wear than in previous eras because we now carry things with us that have clocks on them- cell phones, laptops & more. Our cars have clocks in them, too. Goodness knows, our workplace more than likely has clocks everywhere. So only in very rare events is a watch a must-have item now to tell time by. Watches are a pain in the neck if they're not water-resistant. There are many fields of work where having one on is simply impossible, because too much moisture, dirt or other substances could end up stuck between the watch & your skin. The skin needs to breath- at the very least, remove your watch before bed every night. I own a watch that I love, I do look at it for the time throughout the day & it looks very nice- but I wouldn't buy myself a watch again. It's a hassle every single time that I need to clean a bathroom, wash the dishes, get showered, etc., to remove the watch & put it back on or put it away. It's one more thing to store. One more thing to protect. One more thing that'll eventually stop running & need a new battery. Some of the same basic annoyances occur with bracelets- I have a few beautiful ones, but they can still get on my nerves. If you are a heavy computer user, too, the extra metal on your wrists can making typing literally a pain! Rings get water under them even in just a simple hand-washing, picking up every single bit of dirt, grease, lotion, and more. They can snag delicate items like bras, anything with lace, pantyhose, mesh bags & more. If you do take them off to apply hand lotion or so something else, you had better bring a good memory with you. I knew a lady who forgot her wedding set was left by a sink, which she had taken off to wash her hands after using the restroom at work. And removing one's rings certainly is important for truly hygienic hand-cleaning, so I understand why she took them off to begin with. But she walked out, forgetting to put her very expensive diamond rings back on. Though she remembered her error fairly quickly, the rings were gone nonetheless, by the time she got back to that bathroom. She never did get them back, or find out who took them. An extremely expensive lesson, as well as a guilt-ridden one, to learn.

Necklaces can catch on hair, break & get lost, feel heavy on the neck (depending on the thickness), and can occasionally cause allergic reactions. It can be a challenge to pick the perfect length to go under or over clothes just right, adding one more thing to think about when getting dressed. Necklaces can get in your way, getting caught in long hair, in car doors, in seat belts & more, depending upon their length. If they are long & beaded, and the string holding the beads together breaks (yes, this has happened to me), have fun gathering those beads all up! Necklaces can swiftly wreck your manicure & rough up your nails with no more than a clasp which is acting difficult. Necklaces & bracelets can be difficult to get on as time goes by, particularly if one suffers from arthritis.

Earrings are a great way to still look put together with minimum hassle. Obviously the more intricate, longer & detailed they are, the less minimalist they'll be. Chandelier earrings are beautiful, as are big hoops, but they're a no-no if you work in a medical field or with kids. Heavy earrings, extremely popular in the 1980's & once again in vogue nowadays, will eventually cause your earlobes to extend downward with aging even more than they naturally would. It's getting more & more expensive to buy earrings in a good metal with every passing year, and the bigger the earring, the higher the cost. If jewelry is a passion of yours, like it is for me, I'll be honest- there will always be one more piece that I'm just dying to get! You really have to think hard about your personal economic situation here, as well as what your looks mean to you & the outside world. There is no doubt that the longer the earrings, the more in-fashion the jewelry, the more extravagant the pieces, the more wealthy & sometimes youthful you can look. Jewelry isn't just about sentimentality or polish, but about ego, at least for some people. It can actually be a touchy subject for just this reason, as is makeup, fashion or shoes. What you think you can live with in the name of minimalism might change from time to time- in fact, I'd be surprised if it didn't. If you wear a lot of jewelry every single day, though, pull back from it for awhile. Wear nothing more than a pair of studs or your wedding ring for a few weeks. See if it makes your life easier. See if you can live without the status symbol that your jewelry may have presented to you, if that's what they were. See how people react to you with less jewelry on. See how much more you can get done when you're not stuck fiddling with multiple pieces on. See if you're actually more comfortable without the weight & care of it all the time. There's nothing wrong with experimenting, and actually, you should experiment to find your personal middle ground.

A simple pair of 14k or 18k gold studs can be worn virtually forever by most people, even in the shower or to bed, so long as the back posts are secure. Huggie hoops are also a cute, simple choice for the ears. Rose gold looks beautiful on women of Nordic coloring (cool-toned skin, blonde hair of any shade, blue or light green eyes), and I love that metal when mixed with white gold in a jewelry piece. White gold has a richer, warmer look than bright sterling silver & tends to produce far fewer allergies than silver can. Yellow gold looks decent on just about everyone, but people with warm skin tones look especially great in it. Titanium, platinum, rodium-plated sterling silver & stainless steel are options often picked for wedding rings & watches, which require a metal that's less fragile. Silk-fit or comfort-fit rings are something to look for, especially in a wedding band. It makes a surprising different in ring comfort to be designed in that manner. Sterling silver gets scratched far more easily than gold or any of those metals listed, though it's less-expensive choice & youthful brightness make it an attractive option to some. There are many different finishes on silver that minimize how well you can see scratches- mesh, ribbing, sparkle & diamond-cut textures are popular both for their added durability & the extra sparkle these impart. Silver is often purposely darkened or tarnished carefully in places when used in Native American/Southwestern jewelry, as well as in some other ethnic jewelry pieces, such as from Bali. You may find a style from either your own cultural history or something entirely foreign to you that "speaks" to you when you start seriously studying jewelry. If you're leaning towards getting so minimalist you want to wear only one item of jewelry, your "signature" piece, think about the gem that goes along with your month of birth as an option. Or pick your favorite gemstone of all, buy one high-quality stud earring pair in a metal which you won't have an allergic reaction to, and wear those alone for awhile. Some women are all about having a "signature" fragrance, shoe style, hairdo or look in jewelry, while others like to change it up all the time- don't fight your natural inclinations, or you'll probably end up feeling frustrated. I got very bored with only having a couple of pieces that I wore day after day- it took the fun out of wearing the jewelry to me. But I'm a creative type & I've always loved change in all formats. (I'm known for having "mood hair".) Think about your existing wardrobe, your personal coloring & about what you already own in jewelry. Age can change how you feel about a certain look- many women love silver when they're younger, but prefer the rich look of 18k yellow gold later on in life. Since the price of gold has gone up drastically in the last few years, buying sterling silver pieces plated with 14k or 18k gold has become an affordable option. Remember that plated pieces will eventually wear out in finish, though, and their value will always be less than if the same piece was made of solid, pure gold. Again, wear what you love, what looks good to you, but that doesn't get in the way of your life being lived enjoyably. 

Sell the jewelry that you no longer wear, put it in your will for someone to get when you pass on or go ahead & gift it off now, as special occasions arise. Economically-speaking, it is a very profitable time to sell gold jewelry, and even sterling silver is going up in value like never before. Tanzanite (as there's a finite supply), diamonds, rubies, sapphires & emeralds are immensely popular choices that simply don't lose value over time assuming they're kept in good condition. Clean your jewelry w/ a soft toothbrush, a little liquid soap & water, rinsing & drying well before selling, storing or giving jewelry away. Gold jewelry, especially earring backs, can be sanitized in rubbing alcohol, too, which helps prevent infections & adds some sparkle back to pieces which have seen better days. Special silver plates are sold which you can pour some water & Borax onto, and lift tarnish off of sterling silver very easily. I have "rescued" several jewelry items this way, even ones the wearer thought was beyond help. Remember those items which sit in our jewelry boxes for years untouched may end up being the jewelry that another person wears & loves every single day. Part of simplicity is learning not to hoard & not to be stingy. If you forget that you even own it unless you come across it once every blue moon, give weight to letting it go for good. The money you could earn from selling it may pay off debts that have been hounding you, could enable you to buy a few new organizing pieces for your wreck of a bedroom closet or make some other positive, simplifying change in your life. Consider the trade-offs carefully.

Here's to being a happy organized minimalist,

Liz

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