How to Wear Vintage Costume Jewelry

Do you appreciate the quality, design, and uniqueness of vintage costume jewelry but avoid it simply because you don’t know how to wear it with contemporary clothing and accessories?  

Recently I ran into Barbara Schwartz, a faux jewelry expert who offered to style an outfit around a classic vintage necklace and teach us how to choose the earrings. Can you guess which pair goes best with this ensemble?

blue vintage costume jewelry necklace

Barbara: This little black dress by Isabel de Pedro is the perfect backdrop for this elegant 1950s Blue Glass Bead Eight-strand Torsade by Hattie Carnegie. I’ve added black Jimmy Choo “Elaine” Sandals and a bright blue crocodile clutch by Nancy Gonzalez to give it an elegant punch.

A necklace like this is a statement piece and must be the outfit’s focal point. It’s made from two shades of blue glass beads, with a textured gold-plated, leaf-shaped clasp. The crocodile clutch complements the blue in the necklace.

vintage necklace

The clasp on the necklace is very decorative (with its layers of gold-plated leaves and flowers as well as blue beads and a large pearl in the center), which is why I’ve shown it worn on the front. Here is a close-up so that you can see the details better.

You see the blue beads, gold-colored metal, and pearl – These give clues about which earrings to wear. The style of the necklace is classic and graceful, which will also influence my choice of earrings.

O.K., here are your four choices of earrings. Are you ready?…. Pick one. 



Now let’s look at them one by one.

Option 1 – Gold Crystal 

These Oscar de la Renta Gold-plated Crystal Clip Earrings with blue glass and gold plating have a consistent style. However, the shade of blue doesn’t match either shade of beads in the necklace, and I would avoid introducing a third blue in a piece of jewelry. In addition, at 2 ½” long by ¾” wide, these earrings are too big to wear with a statement necklace. Because of their size and color, the earrings would compete with and not complement the chain.

Option 2 – Gold Chandelier

 Although these 24kt Gold Plated Filigree Chandelier Earrings by Jose & Maria Barrera are a suitable color metal, they are too ornate for this necklace because of their style, golden crystal, and bead embellishments. As in the previous option, these earrings would compete with the Carnegie necklace.

Option 3- Gold Fern

These Fern Frond earrings by Catherine Weitzman are a suitable color metal. They may seem appropriate because they pick up on the leaf motif of the necklace clasp. However, these earrings’ style detracts from the necklace’s elegance.

vintage costume jewelty


Option 4- Gold Hoop

Gold hoop earrings are a staple in many women’s jewelry boxes for a good reason: they’re neutral in style and never go out of style. These Blue Nile Medium Hoop Earrings in 14k Yellow Gold are an example of the type of earrings you could wear with this necklace. The gold is consistent with the color of the metal in the chain, and the earrings are simple enough not to compete for attention. If you wanted to add a bracelet, I would suggest a gold bangle, which many women consider a jewelry wardrobe staple.

pearls earrings wht vinage costume jewlery necklace

Pearls – Another Can’t Go Wrong Option

Pearl studs, another earring staple for many women, are another excellent choice to accompany this necklace, especially if you don’t generally wear gold metal jewelry. These Freshwater Cultured Pearl Earrings by the Blue Nile are an example of a pair you might already own. Because of the large faux pearl at the center of the necklace clasp, pearl earrings would add another touch of elegance to the jewels for this outfit.

 Barbara Schwartz is the proprietor of TruFaux Jewels, a web-based boutique at that presents the best in vintage costume jewelry produced from 1920-1960. She enjoys helping women select classic, wearable pieces that are just right for their style. Barbara also writes and lectures about jewelry and fashion history.

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4 thoughts on “How to Wear Vintage Costume Jewelry

  1. Wow, I like that playing around with gold-colored jewelry can help lift the elegance of a look. My husband is an artist, so I sometimes have to accompany him to gatherings whenever his art is featured in a gallery. I think wearing vintage jewelry for such occasions can help me stand out.

  2. I love vintage jewelry! They remind me of classic and timeless beauty, and they tell a lot of stories. But I don’t mind if someone gives me a modern piece, too hehe ;)

  3. I also guessed the leaf earrings. I would have chosen the hoops, but they looked sterling silver in the photo. I like the choice of pearl studs or diamond studs best when I wear a statement necklace.

  4. Great article and fun test! I guessed the gold leaf earrings and was surprised that the gold hoops were the far better selection. If the pearl earrings were one of the choices, I’d select those in a NY minute!

    P.S. TruFaux Jewel’s site is elegant. I never thought I could pull ofblue-hueded jewelry until now.

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