There are times when you'll see a piece of jewelry and a thought flashes through your mind: "Who would wear tacky jewelry like that?" It's not a nice thought to have but some cheap jewelry is so obvious that I can't help myself. How can you ensure that you aren't wearing jewelry that isn't cheap or tacky? Here at the 10 telltale signs. If you can abide by these rules then you can wear cheap jewelry without worrying about judgement from your peers!
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I. Childish Isn't Charming
If it means making my kids happy I will proudly wear a macaroni necklace. So truth be told? This is the one rule that I never abide by. I like my dragon necklace. Does it look cheap? Not particularly, but even I can admit that it is slightly tacky. Even if you dropped $2000 on a gem-encrusted butterfly necklace there are some that might find it to be tacky jewelry, and that's just fine. Styles don't always mesh.
II. Synergy Matters
I buy and sell a lot of pearl jewelry. Far too often I see necklaces and bracelets that look like zero thought was put into the order of the pearls. There is no discernible pattern or pleasing design. Jewelry needs to synergize! Beaded jewelry in general doesn't move well. Strings of beads just aren't in style at the moment. The most popular pearl pieces have just 1-5 pearls carefully placed to bring attention to the largest stone.
III. Sloppy Enamel Work
This is the one that makes me cringe every time I see it. When enamel meets metal it needs to sit tight against the metal and look clean. If the enamel work leaves any gaps you can bet your bottom dollar that you're looking at a piece of very cheap jewelry. Sloppy enamel work is the most obvious sign of tacky jewelry. You can certainly buy and wear cheap jewelry but please ensure the enamel work is quality.
IV. All That Glitters Isn't Gold
This one can be a bit counter-intuitive. Inexpensive alloys, plated metals, and even just painted plastic are all extremely shiny to the point of being TOO shiny. A darker metal offers a richness and weight that the overly-shiny fakes can't possibly hope to imitate. When I'm out shopping for cheap jewelry I'll always gravitate towards the pieces that look real, not just the shiniest thing on display.
V. Flimsy Kills Whimsy
You can see flimsy jewelry from a mile away if you're paying attention. A particularly large pendant flopping around like it is made of tin foil? Obviously very low-quality. If you get your hands on it then any illusion you might've had about it not being a piece of flimsy trash will be dispelled immediately. As I've said, you can buy cheap jewelry and get away with it... But you'll need to make sure it has the proper weight to it.
VI. Gem Stone Fakery
Goodness. Fake gemstones are another cringe-inducing addition to this list. Not quite as bad as sloppy enamel work but it's close! Nobody is fooled by that piece of blue plastic. It is very obviously not a sapphire. Anyone with eyes can see it's a piece of blue plastic. If you're going low-cost then look for semi-precious stones. A well-polished piece of quartz looks infinitely better than a horrible piece of polymer.
VII. Don't Go All Hulk On Me!
Green fingers, wrists, and necks are something that I'm not seeing as much of these days. Copper, nickel, and silver are common additions to alloys that can all react with your skin and end up turning it green. If you do have to wear a piece of jewelry that continues to leave its mark you might try coating it in clear nail polish before using it and only wear it for short periods. If you don't actually have a social obligation to wear that cheap piece then I'd suggest getting rid of it.
VIII. Commemorative Cheese
Club rings and best friends necklaces and that bracelet you bought on that trip to Hawaii? They might hold good memories, but unless it's a Super Bowl ring you'll probably want to actively avoid wearing commemorative pieces. If you have a best friend or a club then just find a nice piece of jewelry that looks classy. It doesn't need to be engraved. As long as you know what it means? That's good enough.
IX. Fake Distressing Is Actually Distressing
Some cheap jewelry manufacturers will add just a dash of black schmutz to their jewelry to make it look aged. I'm sure some people out there might think that it makes the piece look more antique, but to people who know what they're looking at? It just screams tacky jewelry. It's too ridiculous. Be very careful about buying a jewelry that has been pre-smothered in disgusting black gunk.
X. Statement Necklaces Can Make The Wrong Statement
Most of the time 'statement necklaces' are done all wrong. They end up looking like someone went to town on their child's bib with a Bedazzler. The only statement that it sends it 'I have a very big necklace' which really only works for 80s gangster rappers. A beautiful, significant pendant is all that you really need to send a statement that you are classy and confident. Layering smaller necklaces can also make a fine statement piece, but please stop with the rhinestone-covered aprons.