As with so many culture-crossing jewels, the meaning and symbolism behind the anklet has evolved and changed over time and borders; designs have even been found in Persia (now Iran) dating from the end of the second millennium BC. Since the early 2000s, however, pop stars have led the charge for making them synonymous with wild, carefree hedonism. Beyoncé, Jennifer Affleck (née Lopez) and Rihanna were among those who wholeheartedly embraced body jewelry in the aughts and often championed the anklet – a playful piece that allows us to add extra sparkle to bare skin in a slightly unexpected place.
Fast-forward to 2022 and a cohort of contemporary designers is declaring the anklet a hero piece for summer, retaining its flirty personality and embellishing it like never before. “For me, anklets are the perfect anti-accessory,” says Libby Page, senior market editor at NET-A-PORTER. “For somebody who doesn’t like to over-accessorize, this delicate finishing touch feels very chic, personal and elevated.” In recent months, myriad muses, such as Kate Middleton and Kylie Jenner, have stepped out in anklets for both daytime and evening events, illustrating their versatility, too.
If this is your first foray into anklet territory and you’re unsure which style to choose, it can help to take stock of the kind of footwear you’re likely to be wearing during summer, which tends to be quite minimal. To up the ante, consider adding precious gemstones, kaleidoscopic beads and meaningful talismans at the ankle. Foundrae’s ‘Karma’ anklet is the ultimate jewel for beachside meditations, while Marlo Laz has a range of designs featuring its signature ‘Porte Bonheur’ charms. Mateo and Jacquie Aiche have experimented with a flurry of precious gemstones in summer hues – bright turquoise, ethereal chrysoprase and sublime opals – while Shay has elevated a chain design with shimmering pink sapphires and amethyst.
“This summer, everyone just wants to have fun and be free,” reasons designer Octavia Elizabeth, whose anklet designs are part of the NET-SUSTAIN platform. Elizabeth wears her emerald ‘Nesting Gem’ anklet with chunky flip flops by The Row during the day, and heeled sandals or pumps by night. “Whenever I get a glimpse of my anklet, even when I’m wearing jeans, it makes me smile – it’s a good reminder to have fun with fashion and fine jewelry,” she says. “For whatever reason, to me, anklets just inherently suggest that their wearer is fashionable and fun.”
If your personal style errs more on the understated side, you may wish to consider the most elevated iteration of the anklet – a pearl design. Pearl expert Mizuki Goltz, founder of New York-based brand Mizuki, designs elegant anklets featuring freshwater pearls and is drawn to their seasonality, believing this is part of their lust factor. “Women wear earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets all year round, but when we shed our layers of winter clothes, the longing for summer makes anklets so much more desirable,” she says. “The luminosity of pearls looks beautiful on every skin tone, and I want modern women to wear pearls casually in this way, to make a new tradition for them,” adds Goltz. “I just love designing and wearing anklets; they are playful, sexy and chic – and doesn’t every part of the body deserve a beautiful piece of jewelry?” Indeed, it does.