I didn’t grow up with a grandmother, so I envy friends who had the pleasure of raiding their granny’s jewelry boxes. Nearly all the baubles that would emerge from their grandma’s house fell into one very specific vibe: deliciously gaudy. You know costume jewelry when you see it. It’s the absurdly oversize rings encrusted with colorful rhinestones, necklaces strung with chunky beads the size of ping-pong balls, and massive chain-link bracelets sagging from the weight of meticulously detailed charms. The Nora Ephron-esque coastal grandma aesthetic may be having its leisurely moment in the sun, but to me, the senior style that’s more aspirational is cosmopolitan grandma, dripping in all her big-ass jewels. Ahead, find 16 pieces of costume jewelry inspired by the most bedazzled g-mas.
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It seems as though a new era of statement jewelry is nearly here thanks to evolving Y2K fashion trends that involve loading up your fingers with chunky colorful plastic rings, wrapping your neck with a clown-ish flower choker, or adorning limbs with tons of pearls. When it comes to contemporary designers, I salivate at the heart-shaped pendants coming from NYC-based Sandy Liang, who takes the nostalgia of childhood novelty toys like Polly Pocket and relays them into throwback trinkets for adults. Or I can always trust that L.A.-based jewelry brand Mondo Mondo will release something unabashedly big, brassy, and bold and usually scattered with flashy gemstones. Australian jewelry-maker Chief is also founded on the basic principle that stylish seniors do it better — the brand describes its pieces as “high-low rebellion endorsed by your grandma.”
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While there’s a certain art to layering dainty jewelry, there are seemingly no rules when it comes to donning grandma jewelry, which can be very freeing and empowering for those who want to bling out without overthinking it. Intentionally clashing metals and materials is part of the styling excitement. Plastic bangles can stack alongside rhinestone cuffs, two mismatched cocktail rings can live on the same finger, and playful pendants of fruits or animals can be layered elegantly with a string of pearls. What I love about wearing grandma jewelry is that all you need is just a little confidence and a sense of humor to pull it off. The glamour of it all — even if the look entirely consists of fake opulence — inevitably follows.
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If you’re looking to fill out your own jewelry box with some grandma pieces, you may want to start off with at least one large bangle or cuff, one string of imperfectly lumpy oyster pearls, a few stackable chunky rings, and a substantial chain-link bracelet you won’t mind roughing up. Obviously, nothing compares to actual hand-me-downs from your grandmother’s collection. But if you don’t have access to a stylish senior ready to pass down precious wares, you can always default to modern jewelry brands. OBJKTS Jewelry, BaubleBar, and Notte — to name a few — strike the fun balance between 1920s vintage and winky ’90s motifs of smiley faces, butterflies, hearts, and celestial stars. Leveling up to the cosmopolitan grandma look may be more in reach than you think.
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