Most modern jewelry collections are made up of simple, everyday pieces like stackable rings, layered pendant necklaces, and sleek hoops. But lately, trend-curious types have worked a sprinkling of sculptural statement earrings, mismatched earring sets, and ‘80s-inspired crystal danglers into rotation, too. And it doesn't stop there. As of last summer, the playfully nostalgic seashell jewelry trend swept over the accessories market and ever since, designers and fashion girls alike have been obsessed with the look.
Seemingly a summer-only style, seashell jewelry has evolved into a year-round staple and far more elevated than the pukka shell and rope chokers you surely rocked as a kid. Now, petite cowries, delicate cockle shells, and mini conch and tulip shells are the focal point of new-season necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, often with a luxe feel in gold settings. “Shells are one of those things that feels like the memento you brought home from your holiday,” says Lisa Aiken, the women’s fashion director at Moda Operandi. “There is a memory attached to it. That's why I think this trend has staying power.”
Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director of MATCHESFASHION, says the retailer increased its buy for shell jewelry for 2019, as the style is no longer just an easy summer staple. “We had a really strong response to the Albus Lumen x Ryan Storer collection when it launched for Spring/Summer 2018 and have since reordered styles — our customers love the sculptural and statement appeal with each piece being entirely unique using sustainably farmed shells.”
“The shell jewelry trend was definitely a little more casual in 2018 and 2019 is about taking it up a notch,” says Erica Russo, Bloomingdale’s vice president and fashion director for accessories and beauty. “Whether dipped in 18-karat gold or mixed with materials like pearls or crystals, these styles read much less beach and much more chic.”
These bolder iterations are seen throughout the current resort collections, and Aiken says fanciful styles like Etro’s crystal-and-faux-pearl-adorned cowries feel freshest against polished pieces like workwear and casual-chic separates. “I like that it takes on a bold approach, it's more of a statement,” she says. “We're seeing people wear it with more than just a summer dress. You can really take it out of that seasonal context and wear it with a cool suit in the midst of winter.”
Shopbop’s fashion director, Caroline Maguire says that color plays a heavy role in the new seashell jewelry styles. “The updated shell pieces are colorful and fun — rather than sticking to silver and gold, we’re seeing vibrant colors on textured fabrics.” Instead of pigeon-holing shells as singular statement pieces, Maguire and Russo both like the idea of mixing them in with everyday baubles for an unexpected twist. “I love the juxtaposition of fine gold dainty jewelry layered with a colorful more trendy shell piece,” says Maguire. Russo says “shell pendants set in gold in varying lengths and designs are perfect for mixing and matching.”
Ahead shop a fresh selection of seashell jewelry with styling inspiration for mastering the look in 2019.
Go bold by mixing a large shell pendant with playful gold and beaded strands.
From a single statement earring to layers of cowries, what's fresher than the mix of seashells and knitwear?
Take a dainty approach to everyday seashells by layering a shell pendant with delicate necklaces. Or, opt for simple drop earrings or a ring.