Looking for Vintage Ralph Lauren Jewelry? Learn about the history, jewelry marks, materials used, collectible pieces, and how to buy in this guide
A Brief History of Ralph Lauren
Inspired by old Hollywood movies and the leading actors on the silver screen, Ralph Lauren started his career making stylish, wide men’s ties. All were handmade with luxurious fabrics. The line, which started in 1967 was called Polo. Within a year, the designer crafted a complete men’s clothing line. Stand-out pieces included men’s shirts using fabrics that were far from traditional. The following year, he was given space at Bloomingdales for his own “shop” space.
In 1970, Ralph Lauren won the Coty Award for men’s fashion. This led him to design a suiting collection for women based on the menswear line. By 1971, he opened his first stand-alone storefront in Beverley Hills. Other locations in the United States quickly followed.
Ralph Lauren designs have a classic style. Think the Repp tie, polo shirt, Oxford shirt, jeans, a navy blazer, and the holiday sweater. Lauren says, “I know I have a signature. I know there’s a New England sensibility. I know there’s a cowboy sensibility. I think there’s a sports sensibility. They’re all mixed. But they all come from non-fashion. They all have an origin of being natural, timeless, real—comfortable sensibilities.”
Today, after 50 years in business, Ralph Lauren’s clothing line for women has expanded into sportswear, evening attire, accessories, fashion jewelry, and fine jewelry-- of which now outsells the menswear collection. Ralph Lauren also has a line of furnishings, housewares, and décor, simply called Ralph Lauren Home.
Ralph Lauren Early Life and Career
Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz, in 1939, in the Bronx, in New York City, to an immigrant family from Belarus. As a teen, he aspired to be well-dressed, by copying the style of movie stars including Carey Grant and Fred Astaire.
Studying at Baruch College in Manhattan for two years, he later took a job in sales with the menswear company Brooks Brothers. In 1964, he married a local receptionist named Ricky Anne, who would later become his muse for his women’s collection.
After Brooks Brothers, Ralph worked for Beau Brumell, a tie manufacturer, in 1967. It was during this time he started designing his very own tie collection.
Overview of Ralph Lauren Jewelry
Ralph Lauren’s jewelry pieces add the perfect finishing touch to his classic fashion designs. There are retro chunky button earrings, delicate studs, an endless variety of hoops, classic pendants, or large statement necklaces. Although most of the jewelry is fashion jewelry, take a moment to look at his fine jewelry designs as well. Of course, prices are steeper, but you may be lucky enough to find something preloved on Etsy or eBay! Current examples of Ralph Lauren’s fine jewelry collections include The Chunky Chain Collection, The Equestrian Collection, and The Art Deco Collection. A dazzling way to elevate any look.
Materials Used Ralph Jewelry Design
- Sterling silver
- Rose gold
- White Gold
- Gold plate
- Antique brass
- Tiger’s Eye
- Blue Topaz
- Freshwater pearls
- Swarovski crystal
- Murano glass
- Hand-poured black enamel
- Faux tortoise shells
- Faux pearls
Ralph Lauren Motifs
- Anything equestrian related such as polo players, horses, horseshoes, stirrups
- Ralph Lauren insignias
Ralph Lauren Earrings
Classic hoop earrings have always been a big part of Ralph Lauren’s vintage jewelry. Many are crafted in sterling silver and embossed with braids or rope patterns. Others are simply polished. Some hoops are formed into intricate basket weaves. Gold-tone hoop earrings with rectangular crystals add elegance to any wardrobe. Thin or thick hoops are available.
Earrings dating back to the 1980s are large and button-style. These are heavy pieces that require clip-on backings. You may be able to find more current preloved designs like Trio Sets of earrings that can be mixed and matched. Think faux pearl studs, rectangular cut rose quartz studs, and gold-toned old-fashioned keys.
Gorgeous chandelier earrings are handcrafted by Ralph Lauren artisans at the New York Atelier. At a higher price point than other costume jewelry lines from the designer, they are still more affordable than the fine jewelry line--- especially if you can find them preloved! Look for Victorian styles crafted in silver and antique bronze with smokey or rose quartz and sparkling crystals. Perfect for a big night on the town!
Ralph Lauren Necklaces
Many necklaces have a classic feel. Look for beads in glass or metal, with silver or gold tones, cut in sleek geometric shapes. Some beads are all the same size. Other beaded necklaces from Ralph Lauren’s vintage collections feature graduated bead necklaces. Smaller beads at the top of either side of the necklace gradually become larger as they reach the center. Some beads are shaped into beans like that of Tiffany designer Elsa Peretti.
Other Ralph Lauren necklaces are more earthy. Nature-inspired necklaces have a cascade of polished stones, like quartz, and tiger’s eye. More extravagant necklaces feature these stones set in and embellished with gold-toned metals. Manmade ceramic “stones” in bold red are crafted into works of statement jewelry. Some are used as cameos.
For chains, there are double and multiple strands, often held together strategically with beads. Long chain necklaces measuring 36 inches long are crafted in silver with gold-plated geometric shapes interspersed into the design. Some of Ralph Lauren’s chain necklaces are made into chunky chokers. Toggle clasps make it easy to put on and take off necklaces.
Look for pretty pendants such as large sterling silver snowflakes set with blue topaz. Others are discs of silver with multi-faceted Swarovski crystals in a variety of colors.
To complete a more Boho vibe outfit, look for necklaces crafted from woven brown leather. Often these works were designed with warm gold hardware and faux tortoise pendants. Gold-toned chain necklaces often include decorative beads in one color or a multitude. Retro gold-toned equestrian charm necklaces come complete with a horseshoe, rhinestone arrow, and old-fashioned key with a separate lock.
New necklaces feature two chains of various lengths held together in a lobster clasp. The result is a look of two fashionable layered necklaces each holding small charms such as a tiny heart necklace embellished with rhinestones, a single floating faux pearl, or a logo.
Ralph Lauren Bracelets
The toggle clasp design in Ralph Lauren bracelets is as decorative as they are popular. Triple-strand faux pearl bracelets are also held together and modernized with toggles.
Vintage Ralph Lauren bracelets are often constructed with large links to form interesting patterns. Elegant interlocking silver oval bracelets are coveted pieces. Silver ball-shaped beads present a sleek, modern look. Some use silver and links of faux tortoise shells. Occasionally, bracelets will feature charms with the designer’s initials. Other popular charms are polo players on ponies in silver or gold plate.
Snake chains lend a contemporary look to Victorian charm bracelets. Some have charms in Murano glass. Others are pure silver. Nautical-themed bracelets make use of blue and white striped ceramic beads, in a variety of shapes and sizes. The equestrian-style bracelet showcases a sterling silver buckle, set on a leather strap.
You will also find Ralph Lauren bangles in sterling silver, brass, or gold plate, often sporting a crest. Cuffs come in unadorned polished sterling silver, twisted designs, or embossed finishes. The crystal cuff bracelet in silver-plated bronze reaches right up the wrist and over the forearm. This statement bracelet comes complete with baguette cut crystal, which are handset.
Ralph Lauren Brooches
Ralph Lauren doesn’t shy away from the brooch. In fact, many are created as a nod toward the past. Look for pretty, Victorian-inspired, oval-shaped brooches with colored crystals prominently centered, and intricately decorated with brass floral motifs. Edwardian white-on-white styles are reimagined with sterling silver replacing platinum and pave crystals instead of diamonds. Wear both styles pinned at the throat of a frilly white blouse, like in bygone days.
Art Deco-style pins favor straight lines and geometric shapes with an “R” worked into the design, highlighted with leaves and green rhinestones.
Other brooches are crafted around the company RL insignia. This is often boldly edged into glass brooches or placed on top of a plaid pin as almost a decorative element.
For something entirely different look for Polo Ralph Lauren menswear fabric pins crafted into roses. Solid blue or pink pinstripes are some of the options.
Ralph Lauren Rings
Rings are rarer in Ralph Lauren jewelry. You’ll mainly find preloved rings with a crest embossed on the bezel crafted in highly polished sterling silver. Look closely and you will see the signature motifs of lions and crowns.
Ralph Lauren Jewelry For Men
Ralph Lauren jewelry for men features tie-tacks, lapel pins, and cuff links. Polo players are common motifs. Look for cufflinks featuring the polo player in 24-karat gold set against a “Billiard Green” or “Cruise Navy” background.
Identifying Ralph Lauren Jewelry
Ralph Lauren jewelry is stamped with RL or RLL along with the .925 symbol indicating it is sterling silver. The fine jewelry collection will be stamped with marks indicating the gold karat.
Collecting Vintage Ralph Lauren Pieces
Ralph Lauren jewelry is highly collectible due to its classic style. It will always be in fashion for years to come.