Closet 101 Style

The Value of Jewelry

Sale PSA: Glossed leather slip on sneakers from Vince (I believe these are what “inspired” the lookalike the Everlane pair) now under $150, a classic calfskin leather card case from Smythson in a variety of color options, now $115, a pretty belted drape trench coat from Kensie, now under $130 (note that it is unlined and more of a top casual layer),  a simple and chic striped t-shirt dress from J.Crew, now 30% off with code HAPPYSPRING, and comfortable suede block heeled sandals with excellent reviews from Hinge, now under $60. 

Maybe it’s because I’ve begun expanding at a precipitous rate, but lately I’ve lost a lot of my interest in clothes (with the exception of a few excellent Zimmermann items I picked up because they were just so pretty, which I pray I can fit into after baby). Instead, I’ve been on a jewelry bender. I can’t walk by a store without checking out all the beautiful goodies lately.

One of my favorite all time threads on The Purse Forum (if you’re not on there already, I think you should be, even if you hate bags, there’s something for everyone) titled “Don’t Buy Clothes, Save Your Money for Jewelry“. It’s 15 pages by now, and a lot to read through, but the overall discussion is around whether or not it makes sense to buy just simple basics for clothes, and spend most of your wardrobe budget for jewelry. From my reading, the majority consensus seems to be at least a mild, “yup”!

Lately I’ve been agreeing with this. Since I haven’t been able to wear a lot of my favorite clothes, I’ve been trying out some of my neglected jewelry pieces instead, and it’s been fun to bring out some old favorites. None of them have shrunk, or gotten hideously out of style (I hope), or make me look like a whale shoved itself into a tube top. They’re sparkly and fun and make me feel nice. Compound that with the fact that I recently just got rid of a ton of designer clothing on The Real Real and eBay Valet, and looking at the payouts I’ve gotten for those expensive clothing items…let’s just say, I wish I had spent that money on precious metals instead!

One other thing I recently noticed was when I was looking through old photographs with friends, from around five years ago. I realized that while a lot of the clothes my friends were wearing were ones I never saw again or couldn’t picture them in now (with the exception of scarves – scarves seem to last!), they were mostly wearing the same jewelry pieces in rotation. I saw the same Love bracelets (maybe now with another added to the stack), classic watches, Alhambra necklaces, etc.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – how do you balance buying jewelry with clothes, especially these days, when the cost of a designer jacket (ahem, Chanel ready to wear) can literally be the same as a Cartier bracelet? How do you value each, and do you use a different system when determining what to buy for jewelry versus clothing?

Please share!

PS: Van Cleef & Arpels just underwent its second price decrease in the last five months…yes you heard me right, decrease. I can’t think of another luxury house, especially jewelry, which has had two consecutive decreases so close together, and the prices are now ever so much closer to “reasonable”, especially on certain pieces which they had really jacked up prices on earlier, like the diamond Perlee clover bangle. If you’ve been on the fence for awhile..now might be a good time. I can’t imagine prices going lower in the future, especially since they’re now essentially at parity with Europe, even taking into account the tax refund.

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  • Hui
    March 20, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Hi Katherine,
    Another interesting post! I think to decrease luxury products price is very very very bad strategy. Unless there is a major currency exchange rate change, there should only be one way for the luxuey products price to go : up! Imagine the people who bought the VC products just before the price decrease. Who else would want to buy VC products again if the retail price is decreasing. I used to work for a luxury watch brand. Sometimes we did sell products with a discounted price. But these operations are always carried out secretly with specific retailers and customers.

    • Katherine
      March 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Yes, I was surprised to see two in a row! Thanks for sharing that interesting tidbit about the watch brand.

  • h
    March 20, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Interesting thoughts! I am definitely more willing to spend a lot of money on watches and jewelry than on clothes or even bags. They will last your entire life and clothes, no matter how great care you take of them, have a very finite lifetime. I also agree with you, I think jewelry tends to escape ever looking dated except for very trendy items like the love bracelets, those might look dated soon imo, even though they’ve been around for so long. I think I’ve asked this before, but I’d be super interested to see your watches and thoughts on them. Also how did you decide which clothes to get rid of? I love hearing clean out stories 🙂

    • Katherine
      March 24, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Hi H, I keep most of my stuff in the safety deposit these days unfortunately … my watch collection is not large or interesting though, so you are not missing out 🙂

  • Anonymous
    March 20, 2017 at 11:49 am

    OMG VCA had 2 price decreases? I’m soooo mad, because I bought what I’ve been coveting already last year 🙁 Thanks for the interesting post though and for the info!

    • Katherine
      March 24, 2017 at 4:54 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that! I also bought a piece pre decrease. It happens…we should just enjoy our pieces 🙂

      • Anonymous
        March 24, 2017 at 8:22 pm

        Thanks, Kat! I’ll try to think of it that way 🙂

  • Jill
    March 20, 2017 at 11:57 am

    I have loved jewelry since I was a little girl and have always spent on it, quite often more than my clothes or even my shoes (which are my second love). I don’t buy much traditionally “fine” jewelry like VC&A or any major brands though. I find that most fine jewelry is too small and delicate for my taste. I like big, bold, colorful, or sculptural metal. And vintage is my jam. Preferably vintage Native American (that’s what growing up in the Southwest will do to your sensibilities) and vintage mid century designs. Probably the only more traditional fine jewelry I wear pretty regularly are my diamond studs (because you can’t wear big bold earrings with a big bold necklace, and my classic watches. And I have always bought what I like…I don’t worry about what’s “in” especially regarding jewelry. It doesn’t have that swinging door mentality that fashion seems to. I know that turquoise gets deemed “in” every third season or so, it seems, but I don’t think it ever goes out of style. Neither do great silver (or gold) hoops, an armful of bangle bracelets, a cocktail ring…wear what you love and wear it OFTEN. That’s how I roll, anyway. 😉

    • Katherine
      March 24, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Makes perfect sense. I love Native American jewelry and I love eyeing the turquoise pieces. Your collection sounds gorgeous.

  • Christine
    March 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Hello Katherine,
    I think investing in fine jewelry is the wiser choice. I enjoyed my designer clothing when I worked. Now I enjoy my pretty jewelry. Even with leggings and a big cashmere sweater, I feel special with that big cocktail ring on my finger!

    • Katherine
      March 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      That’s my outfit most days now too! Thank you!

  • K
    March 20, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    A few good clothing investments are important. They wear well & last. Additionally, classics are always stylish. I find major fashion houses reinvent them. I bought far too many Chanel jackets. Looking at them now, it’s just a variation of each other. Thank you for the suggestion where of resellers if I decide to part with any (unfortunately, I am a saver).
    As for jewelry, there was a time, I wore inexpensive, & of the moment. Kind of trendy. Then my husband suggested I stop & wear quality jewelry. So I did, & continue to this moment. You do not need a lot to look good & feel special.
    I find comfortable clothing, not necessarily expensive, & a few nice pieces of jewelry creates a unique & expressive personal statement.
    I want to congratulate you on your upcoming addition & wish the best for a good remainder of the pregnancy.
    I look forward & enjoy your posts though I do not comment often
    Thanks for your contributions!

    • Katherine
      March 24, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you K!

  • Vivian
    March 20, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    I’m with you and I’m not ashamed to wear my Cartier watch still and manage to still look in style for over a decade! However I’m not sure I would like to spend on brand name jewelry like Tiffany’s, VCA etc…I just love simple solitaire studs and rings…

    • Katherine
      March 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

      You have very chic style, your jewelry taste sounds like it matches it.

  • Coco
    March 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    I used to spend a lot on clothing & shoes cos I was staying in a country with 4 seasons. However since moving to the tropics, I cut down on spending. No matter how careful you are with shoes, they will not keep well with the alternate wet tropical storms & hot humid weather. When it’s hot & humid nothing cuts it like breathable material like cotton & linen which tends to come in classic designs. So the only way to inject personality is through jewellery!

    I have found as I aged (crap! ) my tastes have changed from tiny delicate pieces to ‘borrowing’ my mom’s substantial pieces…although I have had comments that I look too young (I still look like I graduated from uni) to be wearing such ‘old’ pieces…

    What are everyone’s thoughts on jewellery? Do you just buy what you fancy? Or do you take into account it looks age / figure / lifestyle appropriate?

    • Jill
      March 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      I buy what I like. Always have. Though I have found that my “likes” are a bit different now. I like bigger, bolder, more colorful. Which is probably suitable as I’m also aging (WTH?) and sometimes a big necklace on the collarbone is a good thing. Smoke and mirrors. 😉 I find that small pendants, in particular, (some of my oldest jewelry I’ve had since I was a teenager / early twenties) feel a little silly on me sometimes. I’ll never give them up because they are reminders of how far I’ve come from those early days. But I find I don’t wear them quite as often.

  • Wendy
    March 20, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    I tend to buy most of my clothes and shoes on sale. Purses used to be my thing. Then I realized that some purses cost more than a lot of fine jewelry! I love earrings, but they have to be light, under 4 grams, and under 20 mm( studs, 20 mm is nickel size). Weight is a big factor so that I can wear the earrings for long periods of time. I change my earrings more often than I change my purses. I like vivid colors, and yellow and white diamonds. Pave for diamonds. The jewelry selection at Barneys is exceptional. I like Oakgem.com and just bought a pair of Temple St Clair earrings at a great price!

    • Katherine
      March 21, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Your earring collection sounds wonderful! Have you tried Lobe Wonder for the ears?

      • Wendy
        March 22, 2017 at 8:09 pm

        Hi Katherine! You are so cute, thank you! I’m trying to avoid Lobe Wonders!

  • Linda
    March 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I have been simplifying my closet and getting rid of all things, including my( junk) jewelry. I think it’s fun to spend money on inexpensive jewelry occasionally, but it gets worn once or twice and tossed? Good jewelry holds value and can be passed down. This is going to be part of my 2017 resolutions going forward! Thank you for this (and your many) thoughtful posts.

    • Katherine
      March 23, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks Linda 🙂

  • Jenn
    March 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I don’t have much to comment on regarding jewelry but just wanted to say I always enjoy reading your well-written posts and laughed out loud at the image of a whale in a tube top. I am sure you look fab no matter what 🙂

    • Katherine
      March 23, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you! Ha!

  • Anonymous
    March 21, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Do you think it’s more worth it to buy a bag, ie. Hermes, or a piece of fine jewelry, ie. VCA? Thanks!

    • Katherine
      March 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Ooh this is tough and I’ve been asked this before..I was thinkinga bout writing a post in the future. I kind of think you need both (cop out I know), and it depends on your wardrobe. I’ll try to write more in a post later!

      • Anonymous
        March 24, 2017 at 6:14 am

        Hi Kat! Ooooh please do! I’m not rich haha, but want to treat myself to something very nice this year lol. Can’t decide if I want to spend it on a super nice bag or jewelry (if they’re similar in price). I like your response here though! 🙂 Btw, I used to buy lots of “brand name” clothes (think D&G, Just Cavailli ha :P) in my 20’s, thinking I’d love them forever, but yeah, don’t anymore! I only got into nice jewelry a couple of years ago and can’t believe it took me this long to get into it. Congrats on baby #2! Your kids are lucky to have such a caring and super smart mommy!

        • Anonymous
          March 24, 2017 at 6:19 am

          Ooops I mean your upcoming baby. I read your blog and know you haven’t had your second baby yet lol 🙂 Thanks!

  • Rei
    March 22, 2017 at 2:38 am

    What an interesting topic! I’ve been thinking about the same thing as I am also on a jewelry banter lately. For me it’s challenging to find the balance between how much to spend on designer clothes and fine jewelry. It’s true that jewelry stands the test of time and last you for generations, but I’d also like to add a few ‘modern and trendy’ designer pieces into my wardrobe every season – it just gives me instant gratification at a different level! 😛

    • Katherine
      March 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Totally…and you’ve been a bad influence, your gorgeous Zimmermann dress got me looking at the brand again, and I picked up two dresses!

  • ella
    March 22, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Very interesting post. i think my strategy is somewhere in between: Most of my “investment” pieces are jewelry, bags, shoes, and coats, but i can’t get away with pairing them with truly inexpensive clothing in the job I have (New York law firm; lots of international travel; only woman in the room most of the time). Dresses from J Crew and J McLaughlin tend to hang in the closet unworn. At the other end of the spectrum, I own a few very expensive items of clothing that I generally save for big meetings or dinners, and then I’m glad I have them. For every day, I do best with middle-of-the-road brands (Kenzo, Max Mara) that make reasonably good dresses that i can wear for a few seasons and then toss out – and I dress them up with really good jewelry and accessories.

    • Katherine
      March 23, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Your wardrobe sounds gorgeous and perfectly appropriate. I imagine you as one of those glamorous lawyers on TV 🙂

  • Ava
    March 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Dear Katherine,

    I think it’s safe to say I spend more on jewelry. 😉
    Lol – and not all of it is super high end, but they are all pretty good quality and I get complimented on them pretty much every time I wear the pieces whether they be made of faux pearls or real.

    I think jewelry like many accessories are easier to wear regardless of weight gain/loss so it appeals to people more…much like cosmetics.

    A thing I cannot get over, still, is the amount of attention my “fake” (as in not real gold, real pearls, real stones, etc.) jewelry receives – e.g. my Hermes enamels, Chanel costume jewelry, etc. It surprises me to be honest, but if I had to make an excel chart of my “real” vs my “fake” I have to say that my fake gets far more interest generated. Odd, isn’t it?

    At the end of the day, if it makes you happy regardless of whether it’s real, fake, from VCA or Target, wear it and enjoy yourself! 😀

    I’m curious, with your IG and this blog, instead of going through the Real Real or eBay Valet, why didn’t you just do a blog sale? I am sure you would have received more for them – you could have made up a second IG page devoted to sale items as some other bloggers have done. Just a thought for future wardrobe purges! 😉

    Have a great weekend!

    x
    Ava 🙂

    ps-I can’t wait to see what you get as a push present this time around 😀

  • Amy
    March 27, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    My father was always one to invest in gorgeous jewelry for my mother, as well as for my sisters and I. As a result, my husband has not bought me the majority of my ” nice ” pieces — other than my wedding set and a great watch that I love. I already had diamond studs, tennis bracelet, Mikimoto pearl earrings before I met him. Additionally, he doesn’t have much love for ” Must have it!” pieces like the Cartier Love, Tiffany T. He tends to think off the beaten path and abhors the trendy. Some of my favorite pieces are not fine jewelry at all: Hermes leather bracelets and enamels, my David Yurman ring, my tiny Chanel “CC” earrings. I admire Van Cleef on others, and it’s truly stunning, but not really “me”. I really had my eye on the C Ballon Bleu for a while — but have since been stalking a H watch that I love (and it even costs less!).
    Jewelry is so personal. And I think costume stuff from Nordy’s or Melanie Auld (or even Anthropologie!) can be such fun. 🙂