Art of Style

Everything you need to know about buying great jewelry

When it comes to building a jewelry collection, the days of waiting for a significant other to feel generous are over. Women are buying what they like, when they like, for themselves. But how do you pick the perfect piece? We asked some of our favorite jewelry designers for their expert tips. By EMMA SELLS


Anissa Kermiche on pearls

“Pearls are the symbol of timeless elegance, and by far one of the most feminine and surprising gemstone materials available to jewelry makers. They hold such longevity in the jewelry world and their opportunities are limitless: they go well with any style, and can be worn from morning to evening. But try not to wear a pearl necklace with pearl earrings, as it won’t feel modern. Mismatched pearl earrings are always a good call, though; a stud on one side, a drop earring on the ear.”

Maria Tash on curating your ears

“Earrings no longer need to be considered or bought as pairs and that freedom is really liberating. If you’re buying for lobe piercings then you’ll want earrings that you can swap out daily, but jewelry worn in other parts of your ear, like the upper lobe or cartilage, tends to be worn continuously and becomes part of you and your aesthetic. When choosing them, consider their beauty and weight; how compatible they are with your complexion and personal style; and how functional they’ll be long-term. If you want to sleep in them, for example, you’ll want a pair of fitted hoops that hug close to your ear. They should also be nickel-free and hypoallergenic.”

Anita Ko on diamonds

“Diamonds have always called to me ever since I was a child; I was always mesmerized by the colors they reflect and the magic they offer to everyone, from babies to the elderly. When you’re buying diamonds, look for connection, sparkle, and flaws to the naked eye that would bother you. I always advise people to buy pieces they know they will wear. It’s no fun to have diamonds sitting in a safety deposit box. Pick pieces you are going to enjoy.”

Melissa Kaye on everyday diamonds

“When buying any fine jewelry, you want to feel comfortable that you are buying from a trusted source, and if you’re purchasing a piece with a larger stone, make sure you confirm that the stone is certified. It’s also important to think about longevity and versatility – one of my primary goals is to create pieces that pair as effortlessly with a white T-shirt as they do with black-tie attire.”

Jenny Klatt and Stephanie Wynne Lalin of Jemma Wynne on colored stones

“Focus on stones that have a rich color and tone, a brilliance and sparkle, and an interesting shape. Don’t just buy into something because it’s a trend or fills a void in your collection – if it doesn’t feel like you, then it’s not for you. We’re all about the perfect wrist stack, mixing new with vintage, emeralds with diamonds, and different colors of gold. It all just looks haphazardly meant to be. ”

Earring Melissa Kaye

Brooke Gregson on opals

“Opals have a high water content so they can’t be left in a dry area without being worn for long periods of time – if you see any small dry cracks within them, don’t buy them. But, because of the water content, they love being worn and the natural oils from your skin will protect them. As they’re fragile, make sure that they’re set well and not worn when doing highly active work – that said, I wear my opal necklace every day.”

Jennifer Meyer on stacking jewelry

“Rule number one when buying any jewelry is to buy what you love, what speaks to you. That way, when you stack your jewelry and continue to add to your favorite pieces, you’ll see they all end up working together. I love that you can continue to add pieces that you collect over the years, and when you wear them all they end up telling a beautiful story.”

Carolina Bucci on charms

“I have pieces that have carried meaning for me for decades and they feel part of me. That is the true definition of luxury; things that live with you for a long time and develop the patina of your life. It’s why I love charms and precious stones, they’re a way of making pieces personal. Choosing them is an instinct thing; trust your first choice, and don’t second guess yourself. If you add something to your own story, then it will always feel right.”

Sophie Bille Brahe on pearls

“Pearls have a special meaning to me – they remind me of my son as it was when I was pregnant that I started using them in my collections. The risk with pearls, though, is that they can have quite a traditional feeling. I like wearing only one earring as it really creates a modern look. I’m also a big fan of mixing pearls and diamonds – they really complement each other.”

Diane Kordas on diamonds

“Diamonds are now modern and I want to make pieces that are easily wearable from day to evening. When you’re buying diamonds, you must first and foremost follow the Kimberley Process; I always look at color before clarity as it’s what gives the first impression of the stone. For example, you’ll notice if a stone is slightly off-white more than its clarity. I also like to make sure the symmetry and polish is excellent so we can get the best fire in the stone. With larger stones, certification is essential.”

The models featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.