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Thank goodness costume jewellery is back – nobody has the funds for a different outfit for every party

costume jewellery
Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby - Alamy

After years of delicate gold studs and barely there chains, magpie-bait pieces are making a very welcome return to our ears, necks, wrists and fingers. It couldn’t have come at a better moment, given the current economic climate: nobody has the funds for a different outfit for every party. And the wonderful thing about this kind of costume jewellery is that you probably have a few bits and pieces already.

costume jewellery
Diamonds are a girl's best friend: Marylin Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Alamy

The best and most unique pieces are the collected-through-the-years kind, the ones you picked up in Portobello Market, or on holiday in India, or the bracelet you stumbled upon when you really shouldn’t have been spending but you went ahead and bought it anyway.

costume jewellery
costume jewellery

Clockwise from top left: Pink, peridot and gold plated earrings, £120, CZ by Kenneth Jay Lane; Crystal necklace, £315, Roxanne Assoulin at Matches Fashion; Crystal and gold plated bracelet, £195, Swarovski; Gold vermeil and gemstone ring, £70, Gem Bazaar

If there’s a statement jewellery-shaped gap in your life, it’s a glorious world to explore right now: strings of rainbow gems from Roxanne Assoulin, silver teardrops at By Pariah, gold waterfall earrings at Pilgrim and Astrid & Miyu. High-street brands are doing this well too, particularly Jigsaw, mixing gold and silver metals to beautiful effect, while Sézane’s jewellery comes Princess of Wales-approved.

costume jewellery
It was all ears at Valentino - Getty
costume jewellery
costume jewellery

Gold plated earrings, £29.99, Pilgrim; Crystal and gold plated earrings, £95, Astrid & Miyu

‘I’ll layer up bangles for more of a bohemian, relaxed party look, and opt for show-stopping statement earrings if it’s something that requires megawatt glamour,’ says Alexia Karides, founder of the jewellery label Ysso. ‘I find that a great piece of jewellery is always much more of a conversation piece than a sequinned dress and it will last much, much longer.’

costume jewellery
Prue Leith - Getty

Unlike pretty much anything else in the fashion world, the older you are, the more fun you can have. Prue Leith, 83, doesn’t have a jewellery box, she has a jewellery wall (and if you’re familiar with her accessorising on Bake Off, you’ll understand why). As for 102-year-old style influencer Iris Apfel, her stacks of jewellery are as integral to her brand as her round specs, and she looks simply fabulous.

costume jewellery
Iris Apfel - Getty
costume jewellery
costume jewellery

Clockwise from top left: Crystal earrings, £225, Pond; Gold and gemstone ring, £498, Mejuri; Sterling silver earrings, £300, By Pariah; Gold plated earrings, £390, YSSO

Perhaps our desire for sparkly things is jewellery’s answer to Leonard Lauder’s lipstick index (in which sales of small luxuries like lipstick soar during economic downturns). It’s not inconceivable that in tough times, we might also reach for costume bling, to lift our spirits and bring us joy. Isn’t that what the festive season is all about anyway?

Bling inspiration...

costume jewellery
LK Bennett
costume jewellery
Zendaya - Getty
costume jewellery
Helen Mirren
costume jewellery
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costume jewellery
Carolina Herrera Fall/Winter 2024 - Getty
costume jewellery
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's - Alamy