How to Curate the Ultimate Summer Jewellery Collection

How to Curate the Ultimate Summer Jewellery Collection

The arrival of summer calls for a distinct gear change in your jewellery box, as exotic colours, organic treasures and stacks of scintillation are a must.

For many of us, summer or warm-weather vacations are a time for greater experimentation with our personal style. In balmier climes, wrists, ankles and toes are suddenly unsheathed, necklines plunge or fall off the shoulders completely, and we are presented with new spots where we can add a little extra sparkle. “Our whole wardrobe is different: we shed winter layers and wear shorts, sandals, bikinis – showing more skin overall, so it makes sense that we would want to accessorise in more places,” says Rosanne Karmes, founder of LA-based brand Sydney Evan, which is renowned for its vibrant gemstone beads and boho sensibility. “The idea of being able to adorn parts of the body that are usually hidden the rest of the year is really seductive,” agrees French designer Pascale Monvoisin, whose cauri shell designs have become an iconic summer jewel.

This change in canvas calls for a new set of jewels that capture summer’s carefree spirit. There is a definite mental shift that comes with summer jewelry styling, as we inevitably choose more casual ready-to-wear fashion and accessories that are suited to travel and tropical temperatures. “With summer comes a sense of escapism; we are all craving nature, the sea and sun, and that is reflected in our jewelry choices, too,” explains Libby Page, senior market editor at NET-A-PORTER.

For many, bold color is the calling card of summer jewellery. The now-iconic rainbow ‘Forte’ beads launched by Carolina Bucci in 2018, named after the Tuscan seaside town Forte dei Marmi, are a summer staple. The gemstone beads were born out of a vacation tradition – on the first day of the summer holidays, Bucci would string together colourful bracelets with her two sons, for them to wear all summer. The day before school started in the fall, Bucci would snip the rainbows off their wrists, symbolising a new chapter. For some, particular colors or gemstones bear the same symbolism. “London blue topaz, sky blue topaz and green prasiolite reflect the ever-changing hues of the Aegean, where we have our holiday home; that’s definitely summer for me,” says Diane Kordas, whose woven evil-eye bracelets featuring diamonds and sapphires are another vacation hero piece.

The summer season is also when we engage most with precious natural wonders like crystals, shells, silk threads and rough gemstones, as we find ourselves shying away from formal fine jewels. “These materials are important markers for the season; they are infused with our memories of summer from a very young age,” explains Monvoisin. Bundles of semi-precious bead bracelets can be slipped between bangles or flanked by a fine timepiece, while delicately strung jewels, such as Mizuki’s pearl and leather cord bracelets, or Lito’s macramé thread designs, will create an eclectic stack. “When you’re wrapped up in minerals from the Earth, I believe you become more connected to yourself and the world around you. They carry properties that inspire love, happiness and healing – the things that every free spirit thrives on,” says LA-based designer Jacquie Aiche, who is a favorite of Bella and Gigi Hadid. “Summer brings out that free spirit inside all of us… We crave those barefoot days and wild nights,” she adds.Shoreline treasures also come out in force in summertime, as so many of us still remember the childhood thrill of finding a perfectly preserved iridescent shell or a piece of sand-polished sea glass at the water’s edge. The ultimate curator of these natural gems is Charlie de Viel Castel, founder of CVC Stones. The New York financier launched his brand as a quirky side hustle in 2015, but now has a cult following for his remarkable pebble jewels set with diamonds. Viel Castel selects every stone by hand, retrieved from a network of pebble pickers scouring landscapes around the world. Discovered everywhere from Greek beaches to the coastal plains of North Carolina, each pebble picker has their own process for finding the very best (one spiritually minded stone seeker hunts under the light of the full moon only), and each stone is entirely unique.

This year, yellow gold is definitely the metal tone of the season – but, while a single chunky gold chain can add a contemporary edge to a swimsuit or kaftan, most of us turn to layers of light jewels for everyday wear. “There’s a lightness and brightness about summer; you don’t want your clothing or your jewellery to weigh you down,” says LA-based designer Jennifer Meyer, whose delicate chains and charms are loved by West Coast American bohemians such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson. The best multitasking jewels, such as Yvonne Léon’s sapphire starfish earrings or Brent Neale’s emerald seashell pendant, will accompany you from beach to bar and onwards to an evening dinner, sitting just as comfortably with a white T-shirt, a bikini or a black dress. “Warm-weather styling can be more playful and personal,” says designer Brooke Gregson, who specialises in yellow gold and rough-cut gemstones. “We can have more fun and add more textural layers – a mix of gold and gemstones with lots of color brings character to a simple sundress and highlights a summer glow.”

For the bravest among us, more skin on show also means a chance to wear body jewellery. “When you layer your body in diamonds and gold, you feel so sensual and rebellious,” says Aiche. If her 18-karat body chains feel too daring, start small and simple with an anklet, such as Mateo’s pearl designs and Eéra’s neon orange enamel style, or perhaps let Foundrae’s new toe rings complement a fresh pedicure. This is definitely the moment to indulge your inner hippie and partake in summertime maximalism, without worrying too much about any style rules. “Summer is the season of happiness and freedom,” says Aiche. “Our pieces carry a strong reverence for the spirit of Mother Nature – and with that comes a very special energy that people fall in love with. It’s a permanent paradise and summer becomes endless.”

Pictured jewellery: 

Clockwise from top left: gold and emerald shell necklace, Brent Neale; rose gold, diamond and yellow topaz necklace, Jacquie Aiche; gold, diamond and horn beaded bracelet, Sydney Evan; ‘Evil Eye’ rose gold, bead and diamond necklace, Diane Kordas; gold, silk and aquamarine bracelet, Brooke Gregson; gold, stone and diamond pendant necklace, CVC Stones; shell and diamond single earring, Pascale Monvoisin.

How to Curate the Ultimate Summer Jewellery Collection