Sparkly Style After 60: Tips for Traveling with Jewelry
If you’re like me, you want to look your best whenever you leave the house. That principle applies to travel, whether for business or leisure. The right accessories can transform a limited wardrobe into a myriad of outfits.
So how do you decide what jewelry to take on a trip? Let me give you some tips and share lessons I’ve learned from my own mistakes.
Leave the Best at Home
The last thing you need when traveling is to worry about theft. As someone whose hotel room was robbed many years ago, I can tell you how frightening that experience was. As a result, I make every effort to avoid calling attention to myself when I’m at an airport or on the street in a foreign place.
In other words, I leave my most expensive and flashy jewels at home or in a safety deposit box at my bank. So, for example, if you typically wear a large diamond ring, take something less conspicuous instead.
In addition, I never take anything that is irreplaceable. For me, pieces that have great sentimental value as well as the rare costume pieces from my collection fall into this category.
Take What Can Handle the Trip
Always be sure that the jewelry you plan to pack is in good repair. For example, clasps should be in good working order. The stringing of beaded necklaces should be strong.
When I arrived at my favorite nephew’s wedding, I looked down at my prized pearl sautoir to see that it had broken. Luckily, the necklace didn’t fall off and the beads were knotted, so I didn’t lose any. Had I checked the piece in advance, I would have taken something else.
Store Your Jewels with Care
Never pack jewelry in luggage you intend to check at the airport or train station. Instead, put your jewels in your carry-on bag or purse, in a jewelry roll or other travel case with compartments designed to hold jewelry. These types of containers have padding and separation that will protect your pieces from damage.
Keep that bag with you when you arrive at your hotel. While it’s tempting to unload your luggage to the care of hotel staff or leave it in the trunk of your rental car, you need to know your jewelry is safe at all times.
When staying in a hotel or other accommodation, always put your jewelry in your room’s safe when you leave the hotel. If no safe is provided, carry the jewelry in your handbag or money belt. (Yes, I use a money belt that I wear inside my pants when I need to carry my passport and other valuables on the street.)
Keep It Simple
When I choose shoes and handbags to take on a trip, I avoid packing any that I plan to wear with only one outfit, excluding formal wear. I apply that same principle to jewelry.
I’m not suggesting that you take only pearls (not your grandmother’s, of course) or a simple gold or silver chain. Here are some suggestions for pieces that are interesting and versatile.
One of my favorites in my personal collection is a necklace I purchased several years ago. It’s a long, white-gold chain with semi-precious stones. Although it isn’t a vintage piece, I like to travel with it for many reasons.
It’s lightweight, and it doesn’t take up much space. I can wear it long or doubled, for different looks. I can add colored crystal earrings and a bracelet to match the yellow, aqua, red, or purple stones in the necklace, depending on my outfit. Finally, the style is classic and mixes well with other contemporary and vintage jewels.
An alternative to a “necklace of many colors” is one of colorless crystal, because it goes with everything. Whether you prefer beads or flat stones, vintage crystal necklaces and earrings are versatile, becoming and a great alternative to diamonds when traveling.
The necklace on the left has faceted, square-cut crystals mounted in sterling silver frames that are linked – what has become known as a “chicklet necklace.” Although that style originated during the Art Deco era, I think this particular necklace was made in the late 1940s to early 1950s.
At 17 ½” long, it is longer than most in this style. For that reason, you could wear this piece with a scoop-neck in addition to a crew-neck or strapless top.
The faceted round beads in the French necklace on the right alternate with crystal and rondelle spacers. At 15 ½” in length, this piece is more suited to a crew-neck or strapless top. This necklace was made in the 1920s to early 1930s.
Diamond studs (whether real or faux) are the universal accessory, in my opinion. They travel well because they go with everything. If you want to think outside the box, here are two examples in crystal.
Both are pendant earrings in the Art Deco style from the 1920s. The screw-backs on the left can be modified for pierced ears.
What jewelry do you like to take when you travel? How do you decide what to pack? Do you have any tips to share for choosing jeweled accessories and/or keeping them safe? Do you love to wear vintage costume jewelry? Do you mix old and new pieces? Please share in the comments section.
Barbara Schwartz is a costume jewelry historian and the proprietor of TruFaux Jewels, a boutique of exquisite costume jewels from the 1920s-1950s. Through her blog, social media, and private coaching sessions, she helps women create their unique, personal styles by accessorizing contemporary fashion with vintage costume jewelry.