1980s Jewelry: The Decade of Trends

The 1980s heavily drew from several of the preceding generations to create a unique mix of old and new ideas to produce a truly unique fashion culture that the whole world experienced. Businesses were booming during the 1980s and so were people's bank accounts. This new-rich group of people wanted larger and glitzier pieces that incorporated anything that sparkled. This can be best evidenced on sitcoms of the 1980s such as “Dynasty” and “Dallas”. Even if a person was not of this new-rich category, they wanted to be seen as one and would try to dress the part of this romanticized lifestyle with wide shoulders, glitzy jewelry, and dramatic makeup.


Asymmetrical designs were popularized in the mid 1980s and were featured in designs such as a single, long earring, a lop-sided hair cut, or odd or off center beaded necklaces or a heart necklace. Bangles and bracelets were back and more colorful than ever after taking a break from the fashion scene for the last several years. Fabric wrapped and brightly patterned bangles were popular during this generation, as well.


Religious symbols such as crosses, oms, stars, and other symbols were often incorporated into larger prominent pendants that were worn on necklaces and earrings. The 1980s was a time of endless fads and trends that were mostly short lived. However, just as the increasing use of plastic made various colors more readily available to the jewelry designers, it also made it more cheap to use compared to metals and gems of the 1950s. This meant that younger generations were setting trends and had more ability to influence future designs as major jewelry purchases could be made much earlier in life with the booming wealth and cheaper materials available.


Some of the jewelry trends include jelly rings, dozens of thin metal bracelets worn at once, lace, chokers, earrings worn in one ear by males, and various wrist watch and sunglass styles. Jewelry of all types were increasingly made from plastics and were offered in brighter colors than ever before. Costume or power jewelry, which featured large, and most often fake, diamonds, gems, and precious metals were popular with everyone from teachers to housewives. Lapel pins made a brief comeback with women's fashion and remained popular until the 1990s with many career women.


Exotic stylings were also popularized during the 1980s with images of lions and elephants carved into wooden jewelry pieces. This type of exotic fashion could also be seen in the animal-print clothing that remained steadily popular during the 1980s despite the rapid ups and downs most trends experienced. Leather was also incorporated more into jewelry designs as bracelets, necklaces, and watches featured this material to give a piece a more exotic appeal.

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