1990s Jewelry: The Fashion Melting Pot

The most emerging trend in jewelry during the 1990s was body jewelry. The increase in body piercings, the belly button in particular, brought on an increase in the amount of jewelry worn by a number of individuals, male and female. Other types of body piercings grew in popularity during the later part of the 1990s and included eyebrow piercings, multiple ear piercings, nose, lip, and tongue piercings.

While plain silver barbells were the most popular choice for these piercings, a single gemmed stud would often be worn by males or a small dangle design would be worn by females. The plain silver barbell was a carry over from the industrial movement in the fashion world of the early and mid 1990s and could also be seen in other areas of jewelry with large silver barbell necklaces and bracelets that remained popular for a good part of the era. In contrast to this industrial movement however, was the trend of large gold medallions, similar to those worn during the 1980s by celebrities. This clear divide in the fashion world was, by some, interpreted as a reflection of the division of social tensions during the 1980s and 1990s by the rich and poor classes. Other social tensions that carried over into fashion were the wearing of logo t-shirts and pin on buttons that featured various political and social commentary.

Personalized jewelry that featured names or places were also popular during this generation, especially with the young working adults and adolescents. Older age groups streamlined their jewelry to more sophisticated and dainty necklaces and rings. Earring fashions wavered between large and small designs made mostly of metal with little incorporation of gems or stones. Necklaces were made of natural materials such as shells or hemp during the early to mid part of the decade and often featured symbols reminiscent of the 1970s such as mushrooms, frogs, and fairies.

The 1990s also saw an increase in jewelry worn by males including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. These had been present during earlier eras, but not to the wide audience that accepted them during the 1990s. Males primarily wore natural materials such as basic silver or gold metals for piercings, leather or hemp twine to hold a small pendant on a necklace or bracelet, and glass for rings. These natural styles were also featured by females, but other trends influenced women towards more feminine styles of jewelry during this time period. Cloth and ribbon were a popular choice among females for necklaces and bracelets, especially for chokers.

The world of high fashion was a heavy influencer for the trends in clothing and jewelry during the 1990s and was often mirrored by youth and young adults. Brand name accessories with signature patterns and jewelry that featured these patterns became a very popular trend that continued through the 2000s. On the other side of the pendulum, however, was the ever present t-shirt and jeans look that was carried throughout the entire generation of tehe 1990s and is still an ever present look on the streets of high fashion and in the halls of the local high school.

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