Learn how to pair jewellery with your own style just in time for all the holiday parties! If you are like me, you are in dire need of jewellery advice! I’ve enlisted us some help: Janis and Jessica from JaJeJems on iCraft specialize in seaglass jewellery and wire-wrapped necklaces, bracelets and earrings, and also dabble in lampwork beads. I think this mother-daughter team has got our bases covered! Read on for insight on choosing the right handmade designer jewellery to accessorize ourselves and all our friends this holiday season!
A little about our experts:
After her retirement, Janis started to dabble in deconstructing different pieces of jewelry and designing completely new pieces from them. She has been creating her own designer handmade jewellery for about three years now. Janis loves pioneering her pieces by experimenting with many techniques and materials, including leather and ribbons. She even makes her own lampwork glass beads to use in her handmade necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Janis’ favourite style of jewellery includes simple pieces with a few interesting beads at the neckline or slightly lower to be visible at the top of a sweater or in the neckline of an open blouse. She adores bracelets and prefers small earrings that don't dangle. The designer in her, however, likes to play. Many of her handmade necklaces hang in multiple strands, the bracelets jangle and many little dangling earrings adorn the shop. Her pioneering spirit is why some of her pieces are asymmetrical or multi-layered!
Jessica studied fashion design at Fanshawe College and spent years of her life working in the Fashion Retail Industry with many of those years being at accessories stores. Even with two active children, a home sewing and alterations business and being heavily involved with the Home and School Association, Jessica has been designing her own style of handmade jewelry for the past year, including some wire-wrapped seaglass pieces that her mother, Janis, works in to new creations. Although Jessica credits her mother for her inspiration, the seaglass jewellery collection of JaJeJems was born out of a love of walking the beaches of eastern Canada looking for beautiful pieces of beach glass, each uniquely etched by the waters beyond the shores.
I posed a series of questions to our experts to help me understand the nuances of choosing the right jewellery in the right situation. When asked about the perfect mix of jewelry to have, whether you need different sets for different occasions or whether any handmade bracelets, necklaces and earrings are truly “jack of all trade” pieces, this is the insight they had to share:
Janis: "I think that depends very much on the individual. We often have customers approach us looking for something special just for a certain outfit or occasion. Others are looking for more versatile pieces that can be worn with many outfits or on different occasions. I think wearing the same piece of jewellery for dressing up as you do for casual wear is a lot more common than used to be."
Jessica: "I truly believe that people buy jewellery based on mood more than anything. Maybe an outfit plays into it for special occasions but in my experience the more flexible the piece, the better. I think you really need to have an overflowing jewellery box and keep adding pieces so you always have the right one to suit the day and the outfit."
I asked if buying jewelry in a set, as with their crocheted bead bracelet and drop earrings or mixing and matching separates is the way to go.
Janis is not as convinced that people really want matching sets anymore. She reports, “I often hear customers say that they love bracelets but never wear necklaces or prefer wearing the same understated earrings with every outfit. Others are looking for big bright earrings and that's all they are interested in buying to accessorize their wardrobe. For our business we are leaning towards giving customers the option of choosing pieces from our collection that have similar beads or complimentary colours to other pieces.”
Makes sense to me. When you apply make-up, the general rule is to play up one thing and make the others more demure like having smoky eyes and subtle lipstick, or bold lipstick and subtle eyes. Why would it be any different for accessories?
What about putting it all together with an outfit though? I gave a few examples of holiday party wear possibilities: a little black dress, a sparkly red one or a demure smooth satin gown. I was pleased to learn that JajeJems has a set that would work for all of them! Their sophisticated lady beaded choker necklace and earrings set pictured above is a classic fit for any occasion or get together!
On the other hand, their black and white lampwork bead necklace that captures the tug and sway of windy shores is perfect for the little black dress but less suitable for the others. I suppose the lesson is to wear what suits YOU first and your outfit after. If you feel like being bold and sparkly, go for it! If you feel like being seductively understated, go for that!
Well, how about buying for someone else? How do you know what to get someone?
Janis has this advice to offer: “Buying jewellery for someone else can be a tricky business. You will want to observe the style of jewellery that the person usually wears, their favourite colours, whether they like big, chunky jewellery or smaller pieces. Are they tall or short? A 24 inch necklace may hang perfectly on a tall person but be too long for a short person. Do they have a large wrist or small? Looking for pieces that are adjustable to a variety of lengths can help with this problem.”
As examples, the lampwork necklace mentioned earlier is great for casual wear, the office or a little black dress whereas this soft and cool seaglass bracelet in green and white might better suit someone who wears jewellery with anything from blue jeans to a sundress but, as Janis points, out, "... of course, it has to be someone who likes bracelets!"
It may be easier than you think to get cues from women now that you know what to look for. Make a mental note of their favourite colours, the most frequent styles (open neck, high neck, jeans, skirts, dangling earrings or studs) from their everyday wear. Men, on the other hand, may be harder to get cues. What do we do about those ever-so-hard-to-buy-for men? When asked this question, here is what they had to say:
Jessica: “Men are a tough one. On the East Coast it is pretty much unheard of (even mocked) for a man to wear jewellery. I did a craft show with my mom here and more than one women giggled at the idea of her “man” wearing a bracelet. In Central Ontario, it wasn’t at all unusual to see men with necklaces or bracelets. I’m not sure if it is regional and/or cultural?”
Janis: “They either love jewellery or wouldn't be caught dead in it! And most of the time they surprise us with what they like. I do believe that men are much pickier than women about the accessories that they choose. On the other hand they are more likely to purchase a handmade jewellery item for themselves on impulse, especially when they find a piece that they really like. It isn't that they put less thought into a purchase but they are not as likely to go away to think it over once they see something that they like.”
JajeJems has been working on a some jewellery designs for men this season, using stone, bone and metal beads, strung on leather cord. So far, they have focused on masculine colour schemes and pieces with more substance. The man’s beaded leather bracelet in the seafarer collection pictured here is an example. I love the blue in this bracelet! It's rich and mature. So far, the designers have had a positive response from several male family members and friends!
I guess this is why there are so many choices for jewellery in the world. There isn’t any single factor that defines what necklace or what bracelet or earrings *must* be worn with particular styles or fashions. It’s more of a “right time and right place” sort of thing. The piece must fit the person, the mood, the occasion and the general flow or feel of the outfit of the day. I suppose the lesson is that buying handmade jewellery this holiday season almost *can’t* go wrong! There will be a time and place for everything, so go ahead and buy it and its day will come!