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Tis the season...wedding season, that is. Brides the world over are gearing up for the most important day in their lives, and, naturally, want to ensure that everything goes according to plan. One of the most overlooked parts of wedding day planning is bridal jewelry. To that end, here are some tips to help you choose the perfect pieces, from coordinating with your dress to choosing something for your bridesmaids.
Does my wedding jewelry need to coordinate with my dress?
Yes. Just as you'd choose a veil or tiara to complement your hairstyle, bracelets, earrings and necklaces should be chosen to complement your dress. A single strand pearl bracelet or multiple-strand pearl bracelet looks best when paired with short sleeves or sleeveless dresses so they don't compete for attention with the dress. A dress with a high neckline looks best with a collar, choker or princess length necklace. A low neckline will accommodate many choices from a choker to a very long strand, called a "rope." Try several lengths to see how they complement your dress, and keep in mind that if you have too much skin between the necklace and the neckline you might be better off with a longer strand. If you're tempted to choose a very long strand, be aware that it might get in the way during the reception--you don't want to smear your pearls with icing when you lean over to cut your cake! A pearl necklace should be shorter or longer than the neckline of your dress; pearls that touch the neckline will compete with the dress. When choosing pearl jewelry, consider, too, the complexity of the dress. A simple, elegant dress can look terrific with a classic single strand or a substantial, eye-catching piece. An intricately-beaded dress will generally look better when the jewelry stays simple and doesn't compete. As far as color goes, classic creamy white pearls complement most skin tones, although some brides' skin tones are best flattered with pearls with rosy overtones. Whether you want classic pearls or something a bit funkier, try several different looks with your dress. If you take your time and find a look that works for you, you'll be enjoying your pearls long after the honeymoon is over.
Is there such a thing as too much wedding day bling?
Yes! You want your bridal jewelry to enhance your look, not overpower it. The most important consideration is that people notice you on your big day more than your jewelry or dress. Everything in your wedding ensemble should work harmoniously. That said, you can choose one standout piece of jewelry, just make sure it's not so outrageous that it's distracting. And keep the rest of your look simple. For example, if you choose chandelier earrings, skip the necklace. If you choose a dramatic necklace, leave your wrists bare. If you want to wear a necklace, bracelet and earrings, choose something less flashy and make sure they work together--buying a pearl jewelry set ensures that you're getting bridal jewelry that works well together. Remember, bridal jewelry should accent you, not overpower you.
What jewelry is appropriate for a beach wedding?
For beach weddings, we like pearl jewelry, shell jewelry and mother of pearl jewelry. With their nautical connotations, these styles are highly appropriate. Just choose something breezy, not formal, such as a tin cup necklace rather than a pearl strand, or a mother of pearl or shell bracelet rather than a four-strand pearl cuff. As long as you keep jewelry toned down to reflect the informal atmosphere, you'll look wonderful.
What jewelry should I wear for my black tie wedding?
Here's where you can go all out. Tiaras, four strand pearl bracelets, four strand pearl necklaces, chandelier earrings...they're all appropriate at the black tie wedding. Choose something that works with your dress, and keep it formal, formal, formal. Think classic pearl jewelry or diamonds.
Is faux jewelry a faux pas?
Not at all! Whatever fits into your budget and makes you feel beautiful is always appropriate. If you love the look of diamonds but can only afford CZs, no one needs to know but you. And with freshwater cultured pearls being very affordable today, almost any bride can fit these traditional gems into her budget. If your wedding dollars just can't stretch to include real jewelry, dig into your mom's or grandmother's jewelry box and make your wedding jewelry your "something borrowed."
I'm going for a vintage look. How do I choose vintage-looking jewelry?
With all the styles out there, it's easy. Decide on what look you like and do an Internet search. You don't have to splurge on real vintage jewelry when vintage-looking jewelry is available in abundance.
I have wedding jewelry from both sides of the family. How do I choose what to wear?
If the pieces are in the same family--say pearl earrings and a necklace, they'll typically look great together. But if your mom and his mom each want you to wear her pearl necklace, consider twisting the strands, or even wrapping one around your wrist to make a bracelet. Another alternative is to wear one strand during the ceremony and one at the reception, or wear one during the rehearsal dinner. Remember, this is your big day, not your mother's or his grandmother's. Express your appreciation and gratitude, but wear what makes you feel good.
Help! I don't have pierced ears. Are there earring options for me?
You're in luck! While clip-on earrings can be hard to find, we have many styles of classic pearl clip on earrings.
What does pearl bridal jewelry say about the modern bride vs. other jewels?
There is no doubt that diamonds are popular and gorgeous, but pearls have symbolized romance and sophistication for centuries. Nothing says understated elegance quite like a classic strand of pearls--the gems just have a pure allure that complements any wedding gown beautifully, and creates a softer, more classic look than diamonds or other gemstones. Modern brides who don't want to wear traditional pearls can still capture the gems' elegance by choosing a unique piece or by choosing colored or irregularly-shaped pearls.
I want to wear pearls. Are they affordable?
Yes! Fortunately for pearl lovers, there's no better time to buy pearl bridal jewelry. Compared with many other gems, pearls are very affordable. (At Moon River Pearls, an AAA quality 18" necklace made with 6.5 mm pearls is $135.) Simple pearl studs, a single-strand pearl bracelet and a single-strand pearl necklace made with 6.5 mm cultured pearls are all affordable options; many stores and websites offer pearl sets for a discount.
Whatever your budget, keep in mind that, unlike your wedding shoes or tiara, you can wear pearls for years to come, and even pass them on to future generations, so spending a little extra for a quality piece is worth it. Of course, another option is to ask your mother or grandmother to loan you her pearls, and wear them as your "something borrowed."
Should my bridesmaids' jewelry match?
Absolutely not! In fact, it's fun to choose different jewelry for each woman based on her style and personality. That said, if you want each piece to match, that's fine too. If you do decide to choose something different for each woman, for the best look, choose pieces in the same jewel family, like, say, all pearl jewelry or all peridot jewelry. For example, you might give your maid of honor a beautiful 18-inch pearl strand, and your bridesmaids matching tin cup pearl necklaces or pearl drop earrings. Or give each bridesmaid a different pearl pendant and matching pearl studs. Just keep in mind the neckline of the dress--you don't want a necklace to hit right at the neckline--and whether her hair will be up or down (long hair will hide dainty studs). Have fun with it...there are lots of styles to choose from.
Can I give jewelry as a gift to my bridesmaids?
Not only can you, it's pretty much a tradition! Chances are, your maids are shelling out big bucks for their dresses, shoes, and hair, and perhaps even accommodations and travel. By giving them jewelry to wear during the wedding ceremony and reception, you'll eliminate one more detail they have to worry about. Plus, what girl doesn't love to receive jewelry? Tip: Save big with pearl jewelry sets.
When is an appropriate time to give my bridesmaids their gifts?
Ideally, before they go out and buy jewelry on their own! Traditionally, brides give gifts at their bachelorette parties or bridal showers--some even at the rehearsal dinner. Depending on the timing, you want to make sure you're giving the jewelry early enough so that they know not to purchase their own. Most bridesmaids' dresses are ordered 8-12 weeks in advance. Once you know what the dress will be like, you can choose the appropriate jewelry.
Should my maid of honor get something special?
If she's the one planning your shower and going above and beyond to help with all your wedding day details, then yes, it's appropriate to give her something extra. If, for example, you're giving your bridesmaids a necklace, you might want to add a pair of earrings for your maid or matron of honor (Moon River Pearls gives free pearl studs with every $150 purchase) or perhaps throw in a manicure/pedicure gift certificate.
Help! My bridesmaid/maid of honor has tattoos/dreadlocks/gauges.
Celebrate it! Just as you have your unique style, your bridesmaid has hers. It's more that she's standing up there with you, lending support, rather than what she looks like. But if you absolutely can't tolerate the buzz her full back dragon tattoo will generate, don't choose a backless dress for her. Similarly, you can ask her to cover her tattoos with makeup; surely she's come across less-than-positive reactions to her tats before. As for dreadlocks? Not much you can do except give her too many champagne cocktails at your bachelorette party and shave her while she's passed out. Kidding. Just ask her to keep them neat. Ear gauges? Rather than take out the gauges and leave those big, floppy holes, do a Google search. We've found delicate silver and CZ gauges that are perfect for a wedding.
What style of jewelry is appropriate for a little girl?
With their traditional and demure reputation, we love pearl jewelry for flower girls! Choose a tin cup style, pearl bracelet, or dainty earrings if she has pierced ears. You can sweeten the formal look of pearls by giving her pink pearls.
What size should I choose?
Most children's necklaces are 12-14 inches and fit the average girl just fine. When in doubt, look for necklaces that have extenders--typically a one-inch chain that allows for an adjustable fit. Bracelets for girls are sized at 5 or 6 inches; these should easily fit most girls and even some small-wristed teens.
What jewelry is appropriate for a junior bridesmaid?
Any jewelry that is similar to the rest of the bridal party's style. Just make sure if she's small to size it down, perhaps by buying something from a children's jewelry line, or buying jewelry that has an extender. Or consider earrings. They fit everyone!
A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America?s Graduate Pearls program, Amy Drescher is a fashion writer and accessories buyer for http://www.moonriverpearls.com She welcomes your questions. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org for personal recommendations.