In the past five years there has been a marked shift towards women buying well-chosen, statement pieces of fine jewellery for themselves instead of (or as well as) the latest arm-candy designer bags or runway-worthy shoes. ‘Women now buy jewellery for themselves in the same way they’d buy a pair of Louboutins,’ reveals Stephen Webster, designer of his own line and creative director at Garrard. Fine jewellery is now considered something to be worn and even flaunted, as opposed to hidden in a jewellery box for the grandchildren or brought out on only very special occasions.
Choosing and buying a piece from the varied selection on offer can be daunting, however, especially if this is your first investment. ‘I always suggest clients ask themselves how emotionally invested they are in purchasing a timeless piece or whether they’d prefer something more of the moment,’ says Jane Zbirou, marketing and communication director for Montblanc in UK. ‘Of course, trends are generally pretty timeless in fine jewellery, this is not a fashion purchase, but there are pieces that have a more modern feel and also classic pieces that are perhaps closer to the DNA of the brand. It's important to ascertain which you prefer.’ Depending on budget and how you see the piece, it’s also essential to consider how often you would like to wear it. Even if a piece is expensive, it may still be one you’d like to wear almost daily.
‘Jewellery is definitely worn in a different way now from five years ago,’ says Ruth Runberg, Browns jewellery buying director. ‘People feel they can wear it all the time and with anything.’ The idea of investing in jewellery, rather than leather goods, also makes sense in these tough economic times.
Wearing fine jewellery as a fashion piece is becoming increasingly popular, hence the plethora of chunky rings from Garrard and statement cuffs from the likes of Dior and Tiffany, so it’s vital to consider your own personal take on the investment you’re about to make. ‘In terms of design it’s completely about personality and taste,’ says Zbirou. ‘Investment or not, this should be a piece you really love. Some people adore flaunting daring pieces that are head-turning and slightly shocking but others prefer subtle, classic lines. The ostentatious trend is not for everyone. Some women prefer their jewellery to be more discreet, or they’d rather purchase something they won’t easily get bored with.’
A good place to start is consideration of the metal. White gold is perhaps the safest, most timeless choice, while yellow gold and rose gold go in and out of style over the decades. It’s also important to consider skin tone. ‘White gold generally looks stunning on pale skin, but yellow and rose gold have a stand-out quality against darker or tanned skin, which can look very beautiful,’ says Zbirou.
Silver is often a popular choice for women buying a piece for themselves. ‘Silver feels lighter, more carefree and I think that women feel less guilty about buying it for themselves,’ says Zbirou. Gold or platinum can still be bound to cultural traditions where jewellery marked an occasion, such as a marriage or coming of age, while silver is easier to wear for many women, particularly on a daily basis. ‘It’s a great place to start if this is your first investment in fine jewellery for yourself,’ agrees Zbirou.
Most importantly, shop around. Try on pieces from a variety of brands and have fun. Perhaps you’d like a piece that mixes precious and semi-precious stones for a colourful, playful effect? Van Cleef & Arpels is a good place to start. Alternatively, diamonds and white gold have an undeniably elegant quality and you can be assured that they will always keep their value and look exquisite.