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I don’t own a lot of silver jewelry. Hell, I probably haven’t bought anything silver since the cheap matching BFF necklaces I purchased in fifth grade (they tarnished as quickly as that friendship). Silver, when I was in my teens and 20s, felt like something someone more fashionable would wear, a bit traditional, but also fancy and adult — all the things that I, in my tube tops and tan lines and cheap costume jewelry, wasn’t. And then gold took over, um, everything, and that was that.
But like all things '90s and Y2K, silver is having a comeback. Connell’s chain may have reignited the silver spark in the mainstream, but since then, I’ve been seeing the cool-toned metal everywhere — from the spring/summer 2022 runways to resting near Timothée Chalamet’s perfect knuckles in Venice this past August. “It feels very fresh. It’s not the old high-school silver that we used to wear,” says Toronto jewelry designer Jenny Bird, of the more-ornate styles of the '90s.
Connell’s chain may have reignited the silver spark in the mainstream, but since then, I’ve been seeing the cool-toned metal everywhere.
Jordan Clarke has been working exclusively with brass and then sterling silver since she launched her Toronto-based jewelry line Enarmoured in 2017. Her sales of silver tripled last year as she’s seen customers gravitate towards statement pieces like her Tulip Shield earrings and hoops, which are made of hammered sterling silver. (Silver alone is too soft a metal to make jewelry so quality jewelers will use sterling silver, a blend of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Brands can also silver-plate pieces, which is less expensive.) "A lot of people right now want to invest in quality pieces... that carry stories they can hand down, but are still affordable,” says Clarke. “And silver is an entry-level material.”
The lightness of silver lends itself to these types of bolder pieces in Clarke’s line, pieces that you can’t always affordably recreate with solid gold. “Silver lasts longer than gold-plated, but it's less expensive than gold. So if you want bigger, chunkier, more sculptural pieces, a lot of people will go to silver,” says Ashley Alexis McFarlane, founder of Omi Woods, a handcrafted jewelry line that celebrates connections to Africa.
But what about all the gold pieces we’ve all been carefully collecting over the last few years? While silver is getting buzz, gold still dominates the accessories world. Today, gold makes up about a quarter of all accessories sales in the U.S, according to trend forecasters NPD Group. (These figures aren’t tracked in Canada.) Yellow gold (or gold-plated) pieces dominated our Instagram and TikTok feeds, layered on the necks and ears of influencers and in jewelry ads.
It's worth noting these now-mainstream styles have long been considered culturally significant by many nationalities and were also popularized decades ago by Black and Latinx cultures. “It's really important to pay homage to the origin of [these pieces],” says McFarlane, of how fashion continually overlooks the contributions of Black people. “Recognizing the influence that hip hop culture has had in and continues to have in fashion and jewelry and style.”
Gold’s popularity has also been boosted thanks in part to the recent influx of (slightly more) wallet-friendly entry level jewelry brands like Mejuri, Cuchara, and Catbird that weren’t around when I was rocking that BFF necklace to gym class. “Instead of buying costume jewelry, you're still going to spend more, but you're not going to Tiffany and Cartier,” says Tamara Szames, an industry advisor with trend forecaster NPD Group.
Szames has also noticed shoppers spending more on jewelry than say the latest It bag. I can relate to that. For me, throwing on a few necklaces and some pretty studs helped me feel instantly more presentable during my sweatsuit-clad, sleepy-eyed Zoom calls. But since I have been spending a bit more on accessories recently, I also want to keep wearing my gold pieces.
Should I decide to add a bit more silver to my rotation, Bird and McFarlane both suggest mixing and matching silver and yellow gold hues. Unlike the '90s, when you had to choose one or the other, today “you just have to feel free to try it at home until you have something you visually love,” says Bird. “It’s like rearranging furniture.” To be honest, you really can’t eff it up. “There are no rules when it comes to either precious material in terms of shapes or scales,” says Justine Lançon, chief creative officer at Mejuri.
Currently, I have my eye on a few silver styles: a longer, heavier chain that sits on my breastbone, and also a '90s-style choker, because hey, I wore it the first time around, so why not again. This time, I’ll skip the BFF friendship necklaces.
Scroll for some of my favourite silver pieces from local designers.
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