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How to create Jewellery “Sets” that make your clothes look wonderful Part 1

Welcome to Gloriously Vintage!  I hope you are joining me today because you are passionate about wearing jewellery to enhance your vintage look, or just love jewellery.  My passion is very deep seated as it started long ago when playing dressing up as a child.  I would find large brooches at jumble sales and happily pin together the big skirts and dresses that made the most “glamorous get ups”.

Wearing jewellery can lift you up from the “everyday”, to feeling very loved, special and absolutely fabulous.  I wear jewellery every day for work – pearl and gold studs and my watch but it is when I am not working that I can pull out all the stops and enjoy choosing what pieces to wear with the outfit of the day.  Why is jewellery so exceptional?  Dear Reader, it may be a gift from a special person or be inherited from a loved relative or friend or it may be a piece you bought yourself to mark a special event.  Wearing those pieces mean you have those memories as part of you.

Vintage jewellery sometimes comes in sets.  These are called parures which are made up of three matching items .  A demi parure is a pair of matching items.  For example, a pair of earings and a brooch.  I have some in my collection and always hope to go on and find another unique one – this is how it is with collecting!

This is a picture taken on my birthday in February this year, wearing the Schreiner demi parure that my husband gave me as part of my birthday presents.


The Napier twist bracelet


The Trifari textured pearl and gold bracelet

I wore it with 2 rows of pearls and my two favourite bracelets.  See how a simple jacket is completely lifted by the jewellery.  Also this is a “set” that can be worn together with different clothes.

I am very excited at the moment because I have been blessed with Birthday Money from my 60th with which I hope to buy a piece of jewellery for my collection.  It will mean so very much because of the important people in my life who have made it possible.  The planning and anticipation is amazing too.  Watch this space for what I find!

demmi parure

1950’s demi parure

This 1950’s demi parure was bought at Antiques for Everyone at the NEC at the last fair.  It is unmarked but I saw it and fell in love with it for the unusual colour and its sheer glamour.

1950's bracelet

Unmarked 1950’s brass bracelet

I also found this amazing 1950’s bracelet.  It is unmarked but I just loved the drama of it.  I thought the colour of the stones would tone with the demi parure so I could wear them together.  The simple blue dress from the summer wedding would take this jewellery perfectly, for example.  However that dress is a summer dress and I bought these pieces in the autumn.  I actually wore them at Christmas on Boxing Day and felt very glamorous.

As you collect pieces of jewellery you treasure, you develop a sense of what pieces to wear together.  You can create your own “sets”.  Just as the occasion drives your choice of clothes to wear, so it can influence your choice of jewellery.  This is an important stage in styling a look.  The pieces you choose will give you joy, confidence and the knowledge that you have lifted your outfit up to make it unique and memorable.

Firstly, consider your own style.  Are you flamboyant?  Are you conservative?  Do you like fine, smaller pieces or larger dramatic ones?  Do you like silver, platinum or gold?  Does rose gold suit your skin tone?  Think about the pieces you have.  Do you often wear costume pieces together?  You have created a “set” if you do.  Do you link certain items to particular clothes?  In answering these questions you are honing in on your particular, individual style.

So how do you decide what goes with what?  To share this process I am using my personal style as an example.

Personal Style

It is something you gradually get to know based on what you like and what suits you.  Over my long life I have come to these decisions regarding jewellery.

  1. I suit gold more that silver

  2. I want to wear bracelets

  3. I love pearls

  4. I love brooches

  5. I enjoy rings, but now love to wear those given to me by my husband

So, when I am hunting out treasures at a Vintage Fair in my mind I am thinking:

  • What will this go with?

  • What do I have already that will make a set?

Some of my most lovely sets have been purchased from 3 or 4 different sources, but they come together wonderfully well.

See how the earings and brooch can change with different pieces – complimentary bracelets on the left.  With pearls in the centre.  Using the brooch only for a simpler day set, on the right.  Below left a more elaborate day or evening set.

Colour and Texture can Link Pieces

We all dress to certain “rules”.  These come from our childhood, our mothers and grandmothers, women we have admired or Film Stars who have such glamour we want to achieve it as best we can.

For me, dear Reader, my jewellery “rules “are simple.  Bear in mind these groups:

  1. Gold

  2. Pearls

  3. Colours in groups

  4. Aurora borealis

  5. Diamante

Always have:

  • Earings

  • Necklace

  • Brooch (sometimes 2 or more)

  • 2 x Bracelets (or more)

  • Special Rings

Having made these decisions about what I want to wear, I create “sets “of jewellery that look and feel comfortable and wonderful together.  Knowing you have made a great choice is part of the pleasure of styling your total look.

I have separated my jewellery by colour into these groups:

  1. Gold

  2. Pearls

  3. Aurora borealis

  4. Diamante

  5. Green – Emerald

  6. Blue – Sapphire

  7. Red – Ruby

  8. Pink / Coral

  9. Turquoise

  10. Purple

  11. Amber / Brown

  12. Clear

These colour groups cover most of the outfits I wear.  It is possible to mix and match to a point.  I NEVER mix diamante and aurora borealis.  They are so different and reflect quite different light and shine.  They look superb worn separately.

007 - Copy

Aurora borealis set with 2 row necklace, bracelet and 4 different earings

This brooch is an American 1950’s brooch which compliments the 2 row necklace.  I usually wear them with the pearl and aurora borelais spiral bracelet and then choose a pair of earings depending on what outfit I am wearing.  As the spiral bracelet has pearls in it I can then wear the Napier twist on my left wrist


The Napier twist pearl bracelet


Diamante evening set

This diamante evening set is made up of two deep stretch cuffs and a single necklace of bright and matte stones.  The brooch is a dress clip that can be worn as two clips or one brooch.  The 3 strand drop earings add extra glamour to the set.  When worn with a plain block of colour, these look lovely.

Emerald and diamante

Emerald and diamante brooch and bracelet added to diamante necklace

Here is the same necklace with a diamante brooch made up of a similar kind of bright and matte stones.  I have used this brooch to dress up a plain black evening bag when wearing the emerald and diamante brooch and bracelet.  All these pieces were bought separately but combine well.

If I am wearing a silk scarf draped around the neckline of a top or jacket I select a brooch that will not snag or pull the threads in the scarf.

I would like to show you more of my sets of jewellery in Part 2.  Dear Reader, do join me in the next post on Gloriously Vintage.

About Gloriously Vintage

My name is Elizabeth. I am so thrilled to be learning how to write a blog about my adventures collecting vintage treasures. This new adventure is to mark my 60th Birthday this February in 2016 and to start this decade with something new. I have been collecting Powder compacts, 1950's costume jewellery, vintage handbags, silk scarves, vintage umbrellas and hats for over five years now. I try to wear and use as much of my collections as possible. This has added great enjoyment to my life! As a child my "best game " was always dressing up. I kept all my dressing up clothes in a large wooden banded trunk in the spare bedroom -the third bedroom. Creating outfits and characters, wearing jewellery always with a handbag and a powder compact I would play on my own for hours. Most of my treasures then came from jumble sales and bric a brac shops browsed with my parents on holiday. Life has a way of coming round full circle. In my fifties I found increasing joy in being able to just be myself and adopt the hairstyle I wanted and the vintage look that suited me. I source all my "top clothes" from Oxfam on line and charity shops Mixing new tops, shoes and sometimes handbags with my vintage accessories has given me a signature style that is unique. I have always tried to be an individual and not follow the crowd. I find most of my collections at vintage fairs, charity shops and going to Antiques for Everyone at the NEC has been a marvellous time for hunting out treasures and learning more about the things that have sparked real passion for me.

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  8. Absolutely beautiful sets! This is something of a dying art, especially outside of the vintage fashion world, and it’s a rare and wonderful treat to get to see some of the treasured sets of a fellow style maven. Thank you for this awesome peek inside your jewelry collection.

    ♥ Jessica



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