In 2020, weddings were uprooted, reformatted, relocated, and rescheduled more times than the bride and groom may care to count. While the pandemic has profoundly changed all things about tying the knot, it’s also given rise to an exciting, unexpected array of bridal jewelry trends for 2021 — and they’re good. Spoiler: Some pieces are anchored in meaning and endurance, while others throw timelessness by the wayside — focusing solely on the joy of the moment. In either case, there’s a considered philosophy behind each piece that’s shared across the board, and it’s proof that things are looking up.
To get the full download, TZR connected with celebrity bridal stylist, Micaela Erlanger, who’s created countless red carpet looks for the likes of Meryl Streep and Lupita Nyong’o. Erlanger first launched her bridal styling business in May 2020 — two months into the pandemic and while in the middle of planning her own big day. “I’m a bride-to-be, and I’ve rescheduled my wedding three times. So, I’m not just an expert on bridal — I'm my own guinea pig at this point,” she laughs. The trends that Erlanger’s seen bubble up in recent months have much to do with the altered philosophies that arose during the lockdown.
“To any pandemic couple, this is a wedding celebration that you will never forget — so I think that the focus on making things even more personal has become so much stronger,” Erlanger says. “And that translates to jewelry. There's a level of sentimentality attached to jewelry — whether it's personalization, or whether it's investing in pieces that you'll be able to enjoy again and again over the years, there’s definitely more intentionality around it now than there ever has been.”
Whether you’re shopping for a jewelry gift for the bride or you’re engaged, yourself, read on for the audit of 2021’s biggest bridal jewelry trends. (PS: if in need, consider Erlanger’s recent collection of engagement rings to go with it all, which the stylist created in collaboration with Forevermark.)
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Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Drop Earrings
“It’s the year of the earring!” Erlanger says first and foremost. “I feel like earrings are the big thing, and maybe it’s a trend because we’ve all been on Zoom for the past year.” Erlanger notes an uptick of drop earrings — particularly those that feature diamonds, pearls, and other beads. “They are tried and true; they’re timeless. I have definitely seen a focus on these as the investment [piece]. Plus, every dress requires earrings. You’re not going to go with bare earlobes.” Anita Ko’s feature strands of colorless diamonds, while Patrick Mavros’ feature marine shell-inspired discs of silver (and happen to be a Kate Middleton favorite).
Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Ethically-Sourced Materials
“I've definitely seen more interest and just awareness in the origin of a jewelry piece,” Erlanger shares. “Knowing where your jewelry comes from — whether its responsibly sourced diamonds or it’s jewelry that's been handmade by businesses — is really important to today’s brides.” Lab-grown diamonds have become a popular sustainable option — which, if this speaks to you, should put idyl’s modular pieces on the top of your wish list. For those after rare, precious gems, Kristin Hanson’s pieces feature Argyle Pink diamonds sourced from conflict-free mines in Australia.
Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Affordable Costume Jewelry
“On the flip-side of fine jewelry, we’re also seeing another trend emerge for weddings in general,” says Erlanger. “Social distancing is still very much a thing right now, and as a result, we’re seeing this trend of people doing a small celebration” — courthouse weddings, elopements, Zoom ceremonies, and backyard weddings being a few — “followed by plans for a larger party the following year. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of fun costume jewelry come into the mix.”
For that second fête, brides are opting for eye-catching statement earrings and necklaces that don’t break the bank — pieces they won’t necessarily have to worry about, after a year of, well, worrying throughout the planning process. This last hoorah is made for bijoux that don’t take themselves too seriously. Take 2020 bride Sydney Connor’s raffia earrings (pictured above), for instance: “They were $4 from Forever21 that I had owned for like two years, but never had worn,” Connor told Brides. “I was always waiting for the right look, and it just so happened that my wedding dress was that look.”
Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Colorful Designs
Along with costume pieces, the “second” event is giving rise to another trend — and it’s just as playful and energized. “We’re seeing color, we’re seeing print, we’re seeing brides think outside of the box instead of just having to wear white the whole weekend,” says Erlanger. “We’re seeing brides shop ready-to-wear collections. It’s much more celebratory, it’s much more versatile, and the jewelry reflects that.”
As such, anything goes — adorn yourself from head to toe in beaded strands, or, tie in a prideful ear pin that’s encrusted with multicolored sapphires. At Sandiswa Sotashe and Kwabena Shange’s authentic South African wedding, for example, colorful beading from the bride’s Xhosa tribe takes center stage — concurrently ticking a box with the “something blue” theme. So long as you’re having a blast, with festive hues as the vehicle, you’re doing it right.
Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Platinum Pieces
“We’re seeing a lot of platinum pieces pop up,” Erlanger shares. Because the metal is 30 times rarer than gold, it’s also a much larger investment. Still, due to the pandemic, investing big in bridal jewelry has become a trend unto itself. “Because couples have had to downsize their plans, there's this movement of people who are taking the money that would've gone towards that big wedding, and putting it into that piece — whether that's the engagement ring or the pair of earrings.
“It’s really about making sure you can get more mileage out of pieces — that’s what modern couples are looking for,” says Erlanger. “Platinum is a very durable metal and much stronger than gold. Plus, it just patinas beautifully over time.” Pro tip: This is one that both bride and groom should feel free to tap into, by the way — platinum cufflinks or additional rings in the metal are much encouraged
Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Something Blue
“I keep seeing ‘Something Blue’ get picked up in jewelry for the wedding day, whether that's a bracelet or an additional ring or earrings,” Erlanger shares. Traditionally, garters were the de facto choice for imbuing blue into the bride’s wardrobe — as a means of repelling the long-feared gaze of the “Evil Eye,” which was believed to bring bad luck to the bride and, in some cultures, hamper fertility. Today, the superstitious hue has taken infinite forms — with jewelry being a trending vehicle. Consider a pair of chandelier earrings or a bracelet of colorless diamonds with sapphire accent stones.
Bridal Jewelry Trends 2021: Hair Accessories
“I’d say hair accessories are really, really popular, whether it’s a brooch or something else, Erlanger notes. “For example, I worked with Fred Leighton to take apart an antique necklace, and I turned it into hair combs for Amanda Hearst’s wedding.” (Peek at the striking finished product above.) Depending on what the bride has in mind for hair, an embellished comb, a pearlescent barrette, or a gilded bun holder may be just the piece needed to elevate her look.