A flash, a streak, a bolt, a sweep – silver’s fluidity in the hands of contemporary jewelry designers is finding new and intriguing territory. From striking sculptural pieces that harness the clean and clear hue of sterling silver, to bite-sized huggies and bracelets crafted in white gold that provide a pure canvas for bright diamonds, cooler tones have taken hold once more.
Throughout 2023, silver served as a precious backdrop for glinting diamonds on the red carpet. At the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Gigi Hadid let her white-gold and diamond high-jewelry necklace by Messika take center stage, pairing it with a nude fishtail gown by Zac Posen for the premiere of Firebrand; while Elle Fanning accented her ethereal Alexander McQueen gown with a chic, white-gold Cartier choker for the premiere of Jeanne du Barry. Meanwhile, at the Oscars, few could ignore the swathes of diamonds dripping from the likes of Michelle Yeoh, Rihanna, Florence Pugh and Halle Bailey – all set in white gold. As we entered the new year, award ceremonies showed there was no sign of the silver trend abating: at the Golden Globes and Emmy Awards in January, white gold and diamonds swept the board in the best-dressed stakes – from Ayo Edebiri’s classic white-gold tennis necklace to Jenna Ortega’s white-gold and diamond floral pendant.
Last year’s ready-to-wear collections also set the stage for silver-jewelry sales to surge in 2024. At Saint Laurent, stacked chunky silver cuffs and oversized skinny silver hoop earrings added glamour to the Wall-Street-banker-inspired wardrobe of power-shouldered pinstripe skirt suits. Meanwhile, at Tory Burch, models wore vast silver safety pins through their ears, and at Bottega Veneta’s FW23 show, chunky silver hoops sat alongside barb-like silver chokers and bulbous silver earrings that have since become an editor favorite. Backstage, models raced between shows wearing silver chains and single-strand earrings that oozed laid-back ’90s cool. For SS24, the prevalence of shimmering metallics, modern pastels and white dresses make it easy for cool, clean silver tones to dominate springtime dressing and beyond.
Consider the wider zeitgeist for elevated yet understated luxury, too, and it’s only natural that silver tones are creeping back in. “Silver’s increased popularity is being driven by a desire to wear more subtle jewelry pieces that work for everyday styling,” explains Ananya Malhotra, creative director of Ananya. “Silver is a precious metal that remains nonchalant and goes well with almost any look, day or night; it’s often easier to style,” concur Eéra’s co-founders, Chiara Capitani and Romy Blanga, who offer a smorgasbord of metal tones so their clients can explore jewelry as an extension of their personality. Their designs, originally inspired by a vintage snap-hook discovered in a Tokyo market, have found fans in Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez and Michelle Obama, who recently wore the 18-karat ‘Chiara’ and ‘Milano’ earrings with a navy jumpsuit. For SS24, the duo go even bolder and chunkier in their necklace designs – and we expect big things.
If imposing pieces don’t suit your personal style, then there are plenty of ultra-wearable, dainty designs on offer. Los Angeles-based designer Suzanne Kalan looks to white gold to amplify the brilliance of white diamonds within her delicate ‘Fireworks’ designs. The scattered setting, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, spotlights baguette-cut diamonds, dispersing light and sparkle in an understated way. Similarly, the ‘My First De Beers’ collection by De Beers, and petite diamonds by Anita Ko and Maria Tash, are all set within white gold to emphasize the stones’ natural sparkle. This white-on-white approach extends to white topaz and pearls – a striking combination that Anna Jewsbury of Completedworks often returns to. “High-polish silver, with its mirror-like properties, lends itself really well to materials that offset or layer it,” says the designer, who studied history and politics at Oxford University before later becoming a silversmith, creating jewelry, ceramics and everything in between.
Whether you go chunky and bold or subtle and sophisticated, there is a whole spectrum of styles to choose from that maintain an unfussiness that feels modern and relevant right now. It’s a sentiment that Sophie Howard, founder of By Pariah, rightly encapsulates when she says, “Silver doesn’t pretend to be anything else… It proudly embraces its own unique character and charm.” And aren’t we all trying to embody a little bit more of that?