For a while all I was drawn to jewelry wise were heavy linked pieces, substantial chains, and big statements. I figured a neutral look would only stand out if the accessories could be seen first or the gems sparkled the brightest. Jokingly almost all women will say that a jewel can never be too big, especially when it comes in the diamond form, which is mostly true since I won’t discriminate against anything with karats. I do however believe that an understated beauty is what people remember and like that little black dress that can compete with the most embellished evening gowns, sleek jewelry is almost more striking than the biggest of gems.
Last summer I found myself strolling through an art fair in Oakland, CA. It was the typical independent vendor scene I love, planks of wood displaying the latest ceramic and leather good, plastic wrapped illustrations, cold pressed juice for days, and of course handmade jewelry. The thing about this market was that no jewelry bigger than a simple linked chain could be found anywhere. The minimal trend had taken over and almost every artisan was displaying their interpretation. I wandered over to AltanaMarie where I began testing her hair-thin gold bands, trying to find the perfect mid-knuckle option. Her lightly hammered rose and yellow golds were almost indistinguishable at first glance, but after focusing harder her tiny accents became apparent. This is the trademark of a great minimal piece, something that doesn’t reveal itself until after a second look. On that same trip I made sure to stop into San Francisco’s curated artist shop Little Paper Planes. The store is a treasured selection of artists selling contemporary goods to a wider buyer base. Owner Kelly Lynn Jones opened the brick and mortar version of the store in 2013 after operating online and has been enticing consumers ever since. Her store is an outpost for minimal jewelery and I left the shop with my own mini monogram brass pendant.
This is the type of jewelery that blends into the skin and isn’t so much about piling it on, but letting each piece layer for a reason. Showing the craftsmanship behind the clean lines, tiny clasps, or delicately set jewels can even be compared to the reason an artist presents a photo, painting, or drawing in a certain way. It is all done with intention. Southern California native Kathleen Whitaker has become well known for her “staple” earrings, which are thin gold strips of varying lengths meant to be worn individually. I’ve been eying a few of her designs lately. The tiny gems in Jennifer Meyer’s miniscule bands are another way to take a fairly plain accessory and elevate it to something more like fine jewelry. Stacked with a handful of other rings or worn alone on an index finger the rings look much more intriguing than a chunkier version…again diamonds do not apply. The great thing about this type of accessory is that a collection doesn’t have to be that abundant and a look can be created with only one necklace, ring, or bracelet at a time. Of course, collecting these pieces is enticing and once one ring fits, most likely a stack of bands will follow, topped off by a collection of bracelets, and accompanied by the necklaces worn at varying lengths. Still, put together the entire look creates a style that is much more personal than the big statement piece flashing around the neck of the other person.
Shown from left to right, top to bottom: Triangle ring / Diamond band / Double bar ring (similar) / Staple earring / Rose gold bracelet / Triangle ring / Enamel bracelet / Gold hook bracelet / Bar necklace / Square earrings / Hexagon ring