I didn’t initially set out to build a capsule jewelry wardrobe. I simply was tired of dealing with tarnished jewelry, faded away gold plating, and it pieces that felt dated after just a few seasons. But here we are. I’ve narrowed my necklaces (5!), rings (just wedding rings and one vintage ring), and bracelets (3!) down into the single digits and am so, so much happier with my collection. Yes, I still have a decent array of earrings but even those are dramatically culled down.
This smaller, more curated jewelry collection has made it easier to get dressed in the morning, so much more streamlined to pack, and my closet feels so much lighter (y’all know that feeling right? My Poshmark account is loving it).
So, I’m going to tell you the pieces that made the cut for me. These will look different for everyone but I do think these are classics that most people can jump off from.
Building a Capsule Jewelry Wardrobe
A note before we get started: you may recall a post I did recently comparing the different types of gold jewelry you’ll find and what each definition means, how long it lasts, and why it is or isn’t worth the cost. This is what I kept in mind while building a capsule jewelry wardrobe. Sure, I’d love every piece to be 14K solid gold but that’s not always realistic, so you will find goldfill pieces. Sometimes those are stand-ins until I decide to invest and, other times, they just make more sense.
Like I mentioned earlier in the post, earrings are the one area I haven’t totally limited to a capsule wardrobe. I do love a bold earring and I still have probably 20-30 pairs overall. That includes fancy rhinestone earrings, funky studs I’ve picked up while traveling, and vintage pieces that have caught my eye. But, on most days, these are the pairs I reach for — and they’re typically all I pack when traveling.
- Classic Pearl Studs: You can’t go wrong with pearl studs. They soften your look, they’re neutral, and they go with everything.
- Herkimer Diamond Studs: These aren’t actually diamonds but rather a clear quartz that resembles a diamond. You’ll see these exact earrings selling for $300+ in boutiques these days but I found a pair on Etsy for just $30ish. I went with the 14K goldfill + large stone and I wear these most days when working from home now.
- Simple Gold Hoops: I know some people have a mental block against hoops but I love them. I think they lighten up an outfit — they don’t let you take yourself too seriously. This pair is the perfect size, if you ask me, but it never hurts to invest in a smaller pair, too.
- Hoops with a Twist: Sometimes you want a slight variation on a hoop to dress your outfit up and that’s when I spring for the trendier oval shape. I have both the medium and the large size in this particular styles and I would 100% recommend the large.
- Statement Earrings: A bold brass statement earring that’s a little bit funky, a bit artsy is a must-have for evenings out. I picked up a pair at Quirk Gallery in Richmond a few years ago and they’re still my all-time favorite.
I could wear the same cuff every day and be totally fine so this was perhaps the easiest area to really cut down my collection. With just a few cuffs and a classic pearl bracelet, I’m good to go.
- Simple Gold Cuff: At the end of this post, you’ll read why this is one I haven’t invested in yet, but instead I have a brass cuff that looks just like this.
- Unique Brass Cuff: I love having something a little bit different to wear on evenings out or whenever I want to kick it up. Fun fact: this snake cuff has actually been a best seller on my blog! I found it at a boutique in Brooklyn, but she happens to sell on Etsy, too.
- Pearl Bracelet: This seems a bit grandmillennial chic, but it’s a staple that’s good to have. I wore mine on my wedding day…and maybe a few special occasions since but I like having it on hand as an option.
This area is going to look different for everyone but I figured I’d include it anyway. For me, I only own the rings that I wear on an everyday basis, so that’s my wedding rings on my left hand and then a vintage sapphire ring on my right hand. Though, to be honest, while working from home I often just wear my gold band.
So, this is going to look like whatever your wedding rings are, if you have them, perhaps an heirloom ring thrown in there, and then something you’ve treated yourself to. This is also the one area I would 100% not recommend going with anything but solid gold because they see so much wear.
- Timeless Gold Band: I always like to include this because I think it’s just so classic, so simple, and so chic. You don’t need it as a wedding band, it would look beautiful and chic just on its own on any finger.
- Diamond and Sapphire Band: I have always loved sapphires, so this was a must-save-up-for in my book. Maybe you love emeralds or rubies or some other stone. I just think it’s wonderful to have a gemstone ring in the mix.
- Gold Signet Ring: A gold signet ring will never, ever go out of style. I actually don’t have this yet but it’s on my wish list…I just need to decide whether I want it for my left ring finger or my pinky.
Back in the day, I wanted to be a statement necklace girl. I’m just not. My Kate Spade jewels sat tucked away, never to be worn. Thankfully, I never went too far down the J.Crew bubble necklace rabbit hole. I’m up for a statement earring any day of the week but necklaces, nah, let’s keep it simple.
- Dainty Diamond Necklace: See below for the story here, but I recently treated myself to a small pear-shaped diamond necklace and it’s become my everyday staple. I wear it all day long, with anything from workout clothes to dinner-out dresses.
- Dainty Quartz Necklace: Again, you’ll see in the section below, but this was my starter piece before investing in the diamond necklace.
- Vintage Gold Locket: I have a vintage gold locket (technically, a pocket watch from 1865) from my grandmother that I absolutely adore. I wear it casually and dressed up.
- Pearl Necklace: A pearl necklace is a timeless piece you’ll have forever. Even if you don’t think you’re into pearls, throw this on with a little black dress or even a t-shirt and try not to change your mind.
- Vintage Beaded Necklace: I have exactly one “fun” necklace that’s strung out of vintage beads I found in a seaside antique shop in North Carolina back in college. And, thanks to a capsule jewelry wardrobe, that’s all I’ll ever need.
Deciding on Investment Pieces
When it comes to deciding on the higher dollar pieces to include in an capsule jewelry wardrobe, it’s probably no surprise that you should think about what you’d wear every day.
For me, one of those pieces was a dainty necklace. I have my gold vintage locket however it’s a chunky piece that doesn’t look right unless I’m wearing it intentionally. I wanted something that I could wear morning to night and it always just goes. I figured that was likely a diamond necklace but wasn’t ready to drop the big bucks on one until I knew I’d wear a dainty necklace so here’s a little tip: I first bought a similar necklace by the same designer, but at a much lower price point (goldfill + navy quartz). After 6 months of seeing that, yes, I would wear a dainty everyday necklace, I finally invested in a diamond necklace.
A side note: I’m all about saving by buying pieces through Etsy, however this was one item that I wanted to feel more “special” so I did spend slightly more to get it from a local designer and, to be honest, I think I got a better quality, brighter diamond that way.
One piece that I haven’t yet splurged on is a gold cuff. I wear my brass cuff bracelet almost daily but the price tag on a solid gold cuff has definitely given me pause. Yes, I know I’ve spent as much and more on other pieces but diamonds seem worth the investment, right?! I know, I know, if it’s something I wear every day — and it’s something I wasted countless dollars on replacing gold plated cuff after gold plated cuff — so I’ll get there eventually.
Then, what’s after that? I’d like to think my capsule jewelry wardrobe is complete but, of course, we’ll see.