80s Fashion Jewelry

Crystal Schwanke
80s Jewelry

In the 1980s everything was large and bold, from hairstyles to shoulder pads. To match those bold fashion trends, jewelry was also large, bright, and distinctive. Unlike the tiny and discrete necklaces and pendants of previous decades, 80s jewelry saw the advent of large beaded necklaces, huge earrings, jelly bracelets, and big brooches.

80s Jewelry and Personal Expression

One of the key features of the 80s was that people were exploring their individuality. Jewelry became more than just a fashion accessory; it was also a means of making a statement.

While the rich and famous were able to demonstrate their wealth by wearing large and stylish fine jewelry, for most other people costume jewelry was the jewelry of choice. This was largely due to cost. A large, heavy necklace made in gold would have been prohibitively expensive for many people. It was also, however, due to jewelry designers who were looking to push the boundaries of design and explore new and different materials.

Types of 80s Jewelry

From oversize hoop earrings to neon bracelets, there are many types and styles of jewelry that defined the fashions of the 80s.

Earrings

Eighties earrings were large and dramatic. Oversize hoops were a staple for any 80s woman. Clip-on earrings were popular as pierced styles were often too heavy to wear. Gold disc earrings were particularly fashionable and these complemented large gold buttons that graced jackets and suits. Imitation pearls and faux gemstones were all the rage.

Oversize hoop earrings
Oversize hoop earrings
gold disc earrings
Gold disc earrings

Necklaces

Styles of necklaces ranged from beaded necklaces to large pendants. Again, gold featured in many 80s necklaces, in the form of real gold or gold-plated pieces. Crystal and cut glass were also popular, and these complemented other styles of jewelry that used real gemstones. Long ropes of imitation pearls in every color were worn plain, in bunches, or with the ends tied in knots.

pendant and beads
80s-style pendants and beads

Brooches

Brooches had a resurgence of interest in the 1980s. Whereas previously they had been regarded as being slightly old-fashioned, the 80s fashion jewelry styles called for brooches that were as large and bold as other items of jewelry.

brooch
Bold brooch

Rings

Cocktail rings and other costume pieces were part of the 1980s style. These were worn both during the day and as evening wear and contributed to the overall sense of confidence and wealth that were part of the decade.

cocktail ring
Cocktail ring

Bracelets

Like the other 80s jewelry styles, bracelets made a big, bold statement. Oversize bangle bracelets were popular as was wearing numerous thin bangles. Plastic, neon-hued jelly bracelets were must-haves for the younger demographic, who wore as many as they could comfortably fit on their arms. Woven friendship bracelets, charm bracelets, and cuffs were also popular.

thin bangles
Thin bangle stack
neon jelly bracelets
Neon jelly bracelets
charm bracelet
Charm bracelet
cuff bracelet
Cuff bracelet
oversized bangles
Oversized bangles
friendship bracelets
Friendship bracelets

Fashion Icons of the 1980s

One of the best ways to get a feel for the jewelry styles of the 80s is to look at the fashion icons of the time. These include:

  • Princess Diana: Her jewelry was often large and featured colorful stones.
  • Dynasty and Dallas (television series'): The flashier the better, and jewelry often featured large pearls and big earrings.
  • Cyndi Lauper: Beads, bangles, and bold color everywhere made up Lauper's 80s style.
  • Madonna: Madonna wore big sparkly jewelry, long beaded necklaces, huge earrings, and it would've been difficult to guess just how many bracelets (of all kinds, in all colors) adorned her wrists at any given time.

Modern 80s Jewelry

People who are interested in 1980s jewelry will find that it is regularly available for sale on online auctions sites such as eBay. There is a wide variety of secondhand vintage jewelry for sale. Modern jewelry is also being created with a 1980s feel. Here are some tips for creating a 1980s look in the 21st century:

Look for Oversize Earrings

If there's one thing that was popular in the 80s that's totally doable today, it's a pair of big earrings. To get the look, try:

Seek Large Pieces of Costume Jewelry

Think of rings, bracelets and necklaces to accessorize 80s style outfits.

  • Apple Green CZ Sparkling Cocktail Ring from Eve's Addiction (around $48): Made with rhodium-covered sterling silver, a large peridot-colored stone, and tiny cubic zirconias to grab attention, 80s style.
  • Princess Cut Blue CZ Vintage Style Sterling Silver Cocktail Ring, also from Eve's Addiction (about $45): Sterling silver with a rhodium finish, large blue center stone, and several small white cubic zirconias.
  • Swarovski Slake Deluxe Crystal Stud Wrap Bracelet (close to $70) from Macy's: A multi-row wrap bracelet featuring Swarovski crystals, available in nine colors. Get several to achieve the stacked bangle look of the 1980s.
  • Kenneth Jay Lane Simulated Pearl Necklace from Neiman Marcus (around $230): A 18-inch multi-strand simulated pearl necklace that mimics the layered look of the decade.
  • Chunky Pearl Necklace from CameronsJewelryBox (about $25, pictured below) on Etsy: A handmade 20-inch gold chain and white pearl necklace with clusters of pearls in various sizes.

Pick Primary or Neon Colors

Bright colors add pop and are quintessentially 80s. Try these styles:

  • Ellie Skinny Bangle Set (about $40) from VOZ Collective: A set of skinny wooden bangles inspired by Ellie Goulding, done in bright pink, black, and white.
  • Bright and Baubly Necklace in Mustard (around $20) from ModCloth: A 22.5-inch necklace made up of bright, happy, mustard yellow beads.
  • Geometric Earrings (just over $45, pictured below) from BooandBooFactory on Etsy: Handmade leather and bronze dangly earrings featuring neon colors.

Consider 1980s Themed Charms

Look for jewelry that features things like the Rubik's cube or popular movies or TV shows from the 80s. Sometimes Etsy is the best place to look for themed items, but other stores may surprise you from time to time. For example:

  • Cheers Oval Dog Tag Necklace from Cafe Press (about $20.00): A silver-toned, dog tag style necklace with the Cheers logo.
  • Retro Cassette Tape Earrings from Cafe Press (under $25): These oval-shaped earrings dangle from your ears. Don't be surprised if some people don't even recognize them for what they are since cassette tapes are such a thing of the past.

Forget Floaty or Delicate Styles

Think bold! Skip right over the floaty or delicate styles if you're looking for 80s-inspired jewelry. The bolder, the better.

80s Inspiration

The 1980s was an interesting decade for fashion and jewelry. The distinctive styles provide inspiration for those trend setters looking for something a little different in their jewelry.

80s Fashion Jewelry