Manolo Jewelry » The Eight Pieces of Jewelry Every Woman Should Own

The Eight Pieces of Jewelry Every Woman Should Own

By La Petite Acadienne


In my many years of reading fashion magazines, I’ve occasionally seen a piece written about the “must-haves” for a jewelry wardrobe. These pieces are considered the ultimate, versatile, can’t-live-without-them classics that will serve you from age 19 through 99 and beyond.

The list usually goes like this:

  • Pearl Stud Earrings
  • Diamond Solitaire Earrings
  • Hoop Earrings
  • Diamond Solitaire Pendant
  • Pearl Strand or Pearl Drop Necklace
  • Gold Bracelet
  • Gold Chain Necklace
  • Signature Piece in your most flattering gemstone

Personally, I have no quibble with this list. There are no items that could be considered bad choices, really. And it goes without saying that if you ARE going to purchase any of these pieces, please buy the best quality that you can afford.

That being said, are those the eight pieces of jewelry that I should own?


Not really.

If I were to be limited to eight pieces of jewelry, my list would have some of those items, but it would also look a bit different. This is based on my own personal preferences, on sentimentality, on my workplace, on my body shape, on my clothing choices, and on a myriad of other factors that tell me that pearl stud earrings, while perfectly lovely, are not on my list of bare necessities.

So what is?  (Wedding jewelry excluded – I’m talking about things you’d buy for yourself.)

  1. Diamond solitaire earrings – personally, I can’t think of any woman who couldn’t use these, but your mileage may vary.
  2. Medium gold hoops – great for work or for weekend. My mom bought me a pair when I was 18, and I still have them and wear them often.
  3. Larger gold hoops – to add a bit of gypsy-ish allure to a weekend or evening outfit. I like hoops, so sue me.
  4. A big honkin’ cocktail ring – it should look like something your fabulous Nana owned. If you didn’t have a fabulous Nana, then make one up, and buy a ring that you think she would have liked. This little number makes any outfit more special. Wear a simple outfit with one standout bauble, and you’ll look like the most confident woman in the room.
  5. A turquoise necklace –this is a summer staple for me. It looks amazing with any and every skin tone and just adds a great summery feel to basic outfits.
  6. Some sort of diamond pendant – a solitaire is subtle and classic, and can be a workhorse of your jewelry wardrobe.
  7. A sparkly brooch – some sweaters have necklines that don’t really lend themselves well to necklaces. And if you wear interesting glasses, you might not want earrings that compete. So how to oomph up a plain sweater? Get thee a brooch. Again, pretend that it was your fabulous Nana’s.
  8. A chunky steel men’s-style watch – yes, I know we all just check the time on our cell phones, but your cell phone does not add edge and panache to your look. A masculine watch keeps a girly outfit from being too sweet, and adds extra interest and mystery to a business outfit.

Some of you might look at my list and disagree to the point of throbbing forehead veins. Others might look at it and say, “ZOMG!!!1 she has read my mind!”

So…what are YOUR eight must-haves?

14 Responses to “The Eight Pieces of Jewelry Every Woman Should Own”

  1. cedar Says:

    Welcome, La Petite Acadienne! This blog looks fun. I’m a big accessories girl, myself.

    I’m with you on the chunky watch, the gold hoops (I have my fabulous nana’s hoops now) and the honking cocktail ring. For the rest of my five:
    A good quality gold chain and ditto on a silver chain. Pendants to hang on said chains can then be acquired at will, and often for not very much money, unless you’re talking multi-carat gemstone pendants. I’m wearing my silver chain with a gorgeous square of carved amber right now, and I’m pretty sure the pendant cost under 30 bucks.
    A chunky, informal necklace made of glass/wood/shells/stones in your favorite colors. The turquoise above is a variation on this, I think. Something dramatic and NOT precious can really take a simple outfit to a more fun place.
    Silver earrings to go with the silver chain
    A high-glitz costume jewelry necklace. I have my fabulous nana’s bronze and crystal choker.

    I find diamonds and pearls pretty boring, myself. Pretty and all, but I want COLOR more than sparkle.

  2. Emily Says:

    First off, congrats! It’s lovely to see you take the reins on this project.

    I have something of a jewelry addiction, and I also tend to wear “statement” pieces pretty exclusively. With that in mind, my eight must-haves are:

    1. A personal totem. I have my wedding ring, of course, but I also have a set of stacked silver rings with a personal quote inscribed on the inside (hidden from view) that I wear everyday.
    2. A pair of small, nondescript earrings that go with everything and can be worn when you don’t want bare ears, but don’t want to call attention to them either.
    3. A long (at least 25″, you want it to hang below your bustline) pendant or chain necklace. I don’t see many people wearing these, but they work perfectly for creating length in outfits that need some balance.
    4. An elegant statement necklace that is all one metal. These are the equivalent of a quilted Chanel handbag: bold, but classic, and always make you look more pulled together.
    5. Collarbone-grazing, eye-catching earrings. More interesting than chandelier styles, but equally perfect with simple evening or cocktail outfits.
    6. A “conversation starter” piece: something edgy or funky or artsy that makes you feel confident and interesting.
    7. A “no fail” piece: something simple and conservative that can class up an outfit for a job interview or a serious event (funeral, court appearance, etc.).
    8. Figure out what color you wear most (mine is plum), pick a complementary color from the color wheel (turquoise!), and go buy a piece of jewelry in that color. Like pairing menswear pieces with girly ones, this is a very simple trick that makes it look like you Know How to Dress.

  3. Jane2 Says:

    Congrats on becoming a member of the Manolo family!

    Indispensable jewelry: Absolutely the turquoise necklace. Goes with everything that says “summer”.

    No big rings…I take a 51/2 ring and that’s pretty small. But small doesn’t mean not sparkly and colourful.

    Ditto the men’s style watch…my wrists are delicate (were but the rest of me so…but I digress). I’m a big fan of unusual bracelets for that reason.

  4. penguinlady Says:

    I’m a huge fan of ‘the classics’, but the original list is just far too boring for me. My problem with it is it’s generic and does not tell a story about how fabulous that woman is (the personal lists, however, do!). A woman’s collection of jewelry is too personal to be boiled down to that. There’s that ring your college boyfriend gave you – and even though you broke up horribly, it still holds good memories. There’s the Murano-glass strand you got (far overpriced but had to have) from your trip to Venice; your great-aunt’s diamond dinner ring; that necklace you wore to your mother’s funeral… Every piece tells a story, and that is what it is all about!

    I’m a bit of a jewelry hoarder (could you guess?), so making a list of only 8 is hard for me. I would have to say:

    – Small earrings/something conservative
    – Outre earrings, when you need to make a statement
    – Gold/silver choker
    – Vintage necklace you adore
    – High-glam ring
    – Brooch (cameos are classic but cool)
    – Your birthstone – ring, necklace, whatever.
    – This space left intentionally blank, to fill in with a trendy cheap costume piece that can be switched as fashions change.

  5. gemdiva Says:

    Congratulations La Petite! I am delighted with this new addition to the Manolosphere. Only 8!? Just kidding. I think you are correct on your 8 mandatory pieces. These are, after all wardrobe staples, kind of like little black dresses and white blouses. I find myself in complete agreement with your first 7 pieces. As to the last item, “Signature Piece in your most flattering gemstone”, I would make that “pieces”. Why limit yourself 🙂

    I would also add one more item to your 8 must have pieces. A brooch. My personal absolute favorite is a gold bow with diamonds accenting the fold over loop. Took me years to acquire, but in the meantime I made do with nice costume pieces. I can pin that to anything and look dressed up. One of the things I always admired about Madeline Albright (apart from the fact that she is intellectually brilliant) was her collection of stunning brooches worn to accent her business-like suits.

    Once again welcome & congrats!

  6. Lady Luxe Says:

    My top Eight goes a little something like this :

    1. Large silver hoops but not so big that small circus dogs could jump through them .
    2. chunky bangels
    3 . A thick silver , white gold or platinum chain .
    4. I totally agree with the mens watch !
    5. something black ! black diamonds , black chains , black leather cuffs , its the rocker in me !
    6. large drop earings , something spectacular to be worn on its own .
    7. a good pair of studs whatever your flavour .
    8. long stranded necklace with a fun and funky piece ( my fave is my wooden owl )

  7. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    There’s that ring your college boyfriend gave you – and even though you broke up horribly, it still holds good memories.

    Yes…I’ve been meaning to do a post on trinity rings. The darned thing doesn’t even hold good memories, but I just plain LIKE the ring. Maybe I’ll buy myself a replacement (and better-quality) one. 🙂

  8. Phyllis Says:

    My rules are

    1. Always mix fine jewelry with costume
    2. No earring and necklace sets or earring and brooch sets: to matchy- matchy. I have have some , I just never wear them together.
    3. I’ll wear three necklaces together
    4. Love charm bracelets
    5. l’ll wear three brooches at the same time too
    6. Wear your jewelry everyday! What good is it if you never wear it?

  9. Victor Says:

    I’m a single guy. My jewelry is limited to watches, tie tacks, and tie bars
    1. Formal watch.
    2. Sport watch.
    3. Heart-rate monitor watch (truthfully, though, this is strapped the the handlebars of my bicycle, though it has been worn so that I can tell the time in a pinch).
    4. Gold tie bar with just a touch of pattern: A cross-hatch.
    5. Gold circular tie tack.
    6. Gold circular tiger-eye tie tack.
    7. Plain silver tie bar.

  10. Anne Says:

    I never really understood the obsession with diamonds, but I’ll refrain from quoting Audrey.

    My list:
    1. Strand of pearls.
    2. Pearl earrings
    3. A well-made cameo. (NOT costume jewelry)
    4. A silver-tone watch.

    I’m a huge fan of semi precious stones of all sorts and silver-toned cuff bracelets, but I can live with a strand of pearls and a good watch.

  11. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    Reading your lists is giving me SO many ideas for future posts!

    Victor, lovely to see a gentleman here — I think your comment will definitely spark a future post on men’s jewelry.

  12. Fabrisse Says:

    I can’t wear necklaces at all since the whiplash. I also have very stubby fingers so rings are not really my thing.

    My 8 pieces

    1. Diamond Studs
    2. Hoops — mine are large copper nautilus spirals.
    3. One pair of neutral studs if you have pierced ears. Can be gold, pearl, or silver depending on what matches your other jewelry.
    4. A killer evening brooch. Even if it’s paste, something sparkly is great on a winter evening.
    5. A simple day brooch for blazers or turtlenecks.
    6. A slim cuff bracelet — mine’s silver with a little bend in it for detailing
    7. A wide cuff bracelet — Also silver, but I’m looking for a copper one.
    8. A watch. I love Movado, but can’t afford it at the moment. Still something simple with a slim black band can go with most things and most times of day.

  13. dcsurfergirl Says:

    Here’s my take on your “eight pieces” list. I am actually aiming to get the pieces on the first list mentioned but I like your list too.

    1. The diamond studs have to wait for now (I do have small diamond hoops). I have cubic zirconia ones for my triple-pierced ears.

    2 and 3. Agree on the medium and larger gold hoops. Silver is a good choice too.

    4. I have a nice size (not too honkin’, though) blue topaz ring that could work as a cocktail ring.

    5. I have a both a lapis choker and a turquoise one. Both look lovely in the summer.

    6. Got to get a diamond pendant.

    7. Got the sparkly brooch.

    8. Got a Citizen and a Casio.

    My other favorite pieces include my ankle chain, charm bracelet and my gold name necklace and matching bracelet.

    Always get pieces that make you smile.

  14. Sam Says:

    1. stud earrings (pearl, gold or silver)
    2. hoop earrings (gold, silver or diamond)
    3. drop earrings (simple or statement)
    4. choker necklace (classic gold chain, pearl or statement)
    5. long necklace, one that can be layered or twisted to wear in double or triple strand (opera pearl, gold or silver chain, beads or mixed media)
    6. bangles or cuffs or charm bracelet (thin or wide, metal/wood/semi-precious. simple or statement)
    7. cocktail ring or brooch (statement piece)
    8. watch

    Sigh, there are just way too many options =)

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