Inspiration for the fall/winter 2020 season stretched back across many decades. There was '90s and aughts-inspired footwear with chunky soles and minimalist straps and '70s-style shimmer and denim for day and night. But most significant was the return all things '80s, oversize suiting, prepster knits, and voluminous dresses included. Jewelry trends from the '80s proved particularly standout for the season, especially when combined with the power prints and glistening fabrics forever associated with the decade.
"When most people reflect on jewelry of the '80s, I think they'd reference all of the neon, lucite, rubber, and the like," Jill Heller, a fine jeweler, vintage expert, and collector, tells The Zoe Report. While the jewelry aficionado isn't wrong, she points out the more glamorous side to '80s jewelry trends, which she considers most relevant today. "When I think of '80s — jewels, sleek, shiny, sexy, yellow gold," she says, sighting gold tube necklaces, wide snake chains, oversize earrings, colorful gemstones, and diamonds. "They're timeless, and that's why they're fresh now." Tanika Wisdom, a buyer at MATCHESFASHION, also highlights pearls, drop earrings, and bold chain-links as must-try takes on '80s jewelry this season.
Whether an oversize necklace, big pair of earrings, or bold cocktail ring appeals to you, '80s-style jewelry can skew casually elegant or full-on glam — it all depends on the styling and how literal you want to get. "All of these pieces are evergreen staples in my book; they've become classic jewelry icons and should be styled as such," Heller says. She suggests jeans, neutral knitwear, and blazers to downplay the effects of bold '80s accents for the daytime. After hours, she's in favor of drama and having fun, pairing bold-but-polished baubles with slip dresses or party-ready silk satin. "[Eighties jewelry] is synonymous with celebration, letting loose, [and the idea of] the ultimate party girl. In a time that can feel very dull and sad, we'll take all the mood-lifting jewelry we can get!"
From necklaces to earrings and bracelets, keep scrolling to discover eight '80s jewelry trends that are back in a big way for fall/winter 2020, with additional insight from Heller and Wisdom. If you're ready to make a purchase, shop your favorites, ranging from affordable finds to splurge-worthy investments.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Bold Gold
From oversize earrings to large necklaces and big rings, bold gold jewelry is quintessentially '80s and a polished choice for a modern look. If a vintage piece from the decade appeals to you, Heller says, "A Bulgari Tubogas necklace is probably more relevant today than it was then."
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Pearls
Pearls are a classic, spanning farther back than the '80s, but the decade ushered in a more glamorous take. Think rhinestone or diamond-adorned pearl cluster earrings, layers of classic strands, and a maximalist styling cue of pearls combined with polished gold pieces. The 2020 take, according to Wisdom, references the era, but with modern refinement. "Classic pearl necklaces and earrings have been updated into modern heirlooms by Timeless Pearly and Sophie Bille Brahe," she says, also highlighting Gucci's gold chain choker, offset with pearls for a vintage feel.
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Big Button Earrings
If there was one earring style to define the '80s, it's a pair of oversize earrings. Heller likes polished gold buttons for a modern look, though enamel and multicolored designs with diamonds or rhinestones capture the decade's iconic glamor.
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Heavy Chains
Whether a necklace or bracelet, large chains are a riff off bold gold jewelry and were a must-have piece among '80s ladies from cable to Cuban and curb designs. For a new-season take, Wisdom says, "chunky chain-link necklaces from Bottega Veneta and Lauren Rubinski make a statement." For a more glamorous take, Heller says a big diamond curb link necklace — like this Anita Ko masterpiece — is '80s to a T.
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Drop Earrings
Another earring trend with an '80s feel this season? Drop earrings, especially for the evening. "Shay's opulent fringed diamond earrings and Yvonne Leon's single earring with cascading diamonds are ultra-glamorous," Wisdom says.
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Snake Chains
Snake or herringbone chains have surged in popularity in 2020, but it's a look that ruled in the '80s. With a necklace, Heller says a wider chain is vital for capturing an '80s tone: "You want big, not delicate." About 3 to 4 millimeters will be the most versatile for everyday wear, especially when layered with pendants and chain-links. Bracelets and earrings are another way to wear the trend, day or night.
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Colorful Gemstones
Colorful gemstones skew super '80s and are a popular choice among designers for fall. "We've seen designers work with stones reminiscent of the era," says Wisdom, ranging from large earrings to bracelets. Heller's top choice when it comes to colorful gems? "Big, close-to-the-ear studs, set in yellow gold."
The '80s Jewelry Trend: Diamond Tennis Bracelet
Though tennis bracelets first emerged as a trend in the '20s and gained popularity in the '70s — when people started to dress down and wear denim with diamonds, according to Heller — they were a major '80s status symbol. While they're undoubtedly an investment, you can't go wrong with a classic design from princess cut to round diamonds.