The 1980s was one of the most eclectic decades in the world of fashion. It was a decade of bold statement styles, big shoulders, bright colors, and silhouettes. Everything was big and bold and at extreme in this era – clothes, sunglasses, hair, and jewelry too.
Jewelry Style of the 80s
Jewelry became a way to express one’s individuality, a concept which was significantly becoming popular at that time. The two words which perfectly described the jewelry of this decade were - large and eye-catching. People wanted to break away from traditional boundaries and explore a style that was distinctive to them.
With bright colors, permed hair, and a style that oozed confidence, the fashion choices of this era were all about expressing the personality and making a statement.
The jewelry of this era was all about fluorescent and bright neon colors. Pink, yellow, blue, green, and orange "hot" shades were frequently used in cuff bracelets, bangles, vinyl bracelets, earrings, and plastic rings. Browse colorful jewelry on Etsy.
Oversized rope and link chains
Rope chains became most popular through rap music that was getting more coverage and press back then. These fat gold chain necklaces were being worn by all the rappers. They were made in metallics too. They were also called Dookie Chains. The chunkier the chain, the better it was.
Mismatched and single earrings
Asymmetry had its moment in the 80s when one could have fun while taking personal statements to an entirely new level. Many fashion icons sported mismatched or single earrings. The key to choose a single earring was to pick one that could stand on its own.
Long Necklaces, Lariats, and “Y” Necklaces
Lariats in gold and long necklaces had their moment of glory in the 1980s when people sported them with all kinds of outfits. Lariats were a versatile piece of jewelry that could be worn with formal as well as casual clothing. Long “Y” necklaces terminating in a tassel, and no-clasp lariat styles ending with two tasseled ends were preferred by many.
Pearl jewelry remained evergreen with everyone having at least one piece of pearl jewelry in their jewelry collection. Pearl was favored in all styles of jewelry.
Punk style jewelry had become extremely popular among the different segments of society during the era of 80s. Many female punks rebelled against the stereotypical image of a woman by pairing delicate clothes with masculine clothes, such as combining a pink ballet dress with a huge rough chain with studs and spikes.
Jewelry Material Popular in the 80s
In this era, designers pushed boundaries and experimented to craft jewelry pieces that were never made previously. They used materials such as precious metals and gemstones, beads, glass, rubber, plastic, and other unique jewelry materials.
Plastic dominated this decade too and remained one of the most favorable materials for producing jewelry. As plastic was cheap and available in a variety of bright colors, its jewelry could be produced in a large quantity while being affordable too. Although plastic as a jewelry material was preferred in earlier decades also, it attained new heights in this era when elite classes also started to sport plastic jewelry.
Jewelry of the 80s included almost all types of precious metals. Big and bold bracelets, long chains, and huge hoop earrings made of silver were popular as well. Precious metals such as gold and diamond also gained popularity in this era. Diamond and gold were especially popular with people who were not a big fan of cheap plastic or too colorful jewelry.
Earthy tones and natural materials were big in 1980s fashion. Woods, stones, tumbled crystals, and shells were especially popular in chunky necklaces and thick bracelets.
1980s Popular Jewelry
For most of the people of this decade, costume jewelry was the jewelry of choice. From neon bracelets to oversized hoop earrings, many types and styles of jewelry define the fashion of the 80s.
Earrings of the 1980s were undoubtedly the most noticeable of 80s jewelry trends. They were often large, dramatic, and over-the-top. Oversized earrings and dramatic hoops were staples for women in the 80s. Clip-on earrings were pretty popular as earrings were quite heavy owing to their large sizes.
Gold disc earrings were particularly fashionable and these complemented large gold buttons that graced jackets and suits. Imitation pearls and faux gemstone earrings especially set in the stud button earrings were highly favored. Geometrical shapes (such as triangles and stars) and animal prints were also popular for earrings.
Sophisticated and elegant earrings in neutral tones, tassel earrings, chandeliers, single and mismatched earrings were also trendy.
Necklace styles in this era saw large-sized pendants, beads of different sizes, and faux pearls. Pearl necklaces especially were in style with women sporting long ropes of faux pearls in different shades. They were commonly worn in multiple strands of varying lengths, in bunches, or with the ends tied in knots.
Real gold or gold-plated necklaces were also popular. Necklaces made of Crystal and cut-glass necklaces were popularly worn to complement other styles of jewelry that used real gemstones.
Black, white, and silver beaded and crucifix necklaces were made popular by Madonna, with Cyndi Lauper choosing more colorful bead necklaces. Geometric shapes were also used and triangles became particularly popular in the 80s.
Cocktail rings and other costume pieces enjoyed immense popularity in this decade too. They came in a multitude of colors, styles, and sizes. Noticeable statement pieces complemented other jewelry and outfit. These were worn both during the day and as evening wear and contributed to the overall sense of confidence and wealth that were part of the decade.
Bracelets also made a big and bold statement like other jewelry of the 80s. Oversized bangles and bracelets were hugely popular. Stacking multiple thin bangles or bracelets were a range among people. Many people also sported a single statement bracelet like a cuff or thick bangle.
For the younger population, plastic neon-colored jelly bracelets were the style. These added an element of fun and color while fitting snuggly on their arms. Big plastic bracelets with clashing neon colors or animal prints were also popular. Woven friendship bracelets, charm bracelets, and cuffs were also popular.
Brooches which had lost their charm and were considered a bit old-fashioned till sometime back gained popularity as a statement piece in the 80s. Large, bold, and dramatic brooches were an in-thing like other jewelry pieces. Fashionistas often wore them on the uncommon piece of clothing. Namely, the wide belt that complemented business style dresses and suits.
Many designs were inspired by nature featuring insects and floral motifs like leaves, vines, and flowers. Other styles contained large faux pearls or gemstones, set in gold-plated metals.
Fashionistas of the 80s did not pay much attention to their hairstyle but were particularly fond of hair jewelry. 80s fashion hair accessories were full of bows, ribbons, and even flower pins and clips.
Fashion Icons of the 80s
Jewelry trends of the 80s were highly inspired by some of the most famous and notable icons of this decade. They were idolized by this generation which took fashion and jewelry inspiration from these divas.
Some of the most notable fashion icons of the 80s were :
Princess Diana: Princess Diana left her fans with her classic and impeccable style of fashion. Her jewelry was often large and featured colorful stones. She wore pearls and gemstones, a choker, and large earrings.
Madonna: Madonna is considered as one of the most adored and influential style icons of the 80s, especially for the younger demographics. She wore big sparkly jewelry, long beaded necklaces, huge dangling earrings, metal cuffs, and numerous bracelets of all kinds and colors at any given time.
For a Madonna look, you can add a star or cross/crucifix earrings and a necklace. Religious and studded jewelry is also ideal for creating a Madonna or rock/punk style.
Cindy Lauper: Cindy Lauper was known for her bold makeup, beads, bangles, and flashy, colorful statement jewelry. Her fashion style reflected an attitude, ‘I don’t care’.
Brooke Shields: Well-known for her large, natural eyebrows, Brooke Shields’ jewelry style consisted of chic statement earrings, button pearl earrings, and choker necklaces.
1980s Famous Jewelry Designers
Barry Kieselstein-Cord - A brand started in 1972 whose signature is bold gold and silver jewelry. His product line also includes belt buckles, sculptures, handbags, eyewear, home furnishings, watches, and accessories.
SeidenGang - Founded by Carol Seiden and Carolyn Gang. This brand is known for transforming timeless Greek and Roman bas-reliefs into bold gold jewelry.
Marina B - A member of Italy’s famed Bulgari family, Marina launched her own line of bold, look-at-me, candy-color jewelry in the 1980s.
Elizabeth Locke - Her jewelry is inspired by the antique jewelry of the Etruscans, Greeks and Romans, as she reinterprets them into her own neo-classical handmade 19k gold jewelry.
Elizabeth Gage - Her bold and bright pieces fit the "more is more" 1980s aesthetic. Her jewelry is made with 18 - 22k gold - featuring beautiful carvings, exquisite stones, barouque pearls, ancient bronzes, and bright enamels.
Shop for 1980s Jewelry
With numerous shopping websites on the internet, it is a burdensome task to choose the best, safest and most-trusted ones to shop for your dream jewelry.
We recommend buying jewelry from Etsy and eBay, the two best websites which provide you the easiest, safest, and most-trusted shopping experience. With their countless vintage collection of 80s jewelry and much-needed filters, you will find that perfect piece of your choice, and that too at the comfort of your home.
Shop now to add 80s punk glamour to your collection!