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Summer Jewelry for Staying Cool and Looking Chic

If you live in the northern hemisphere as I do, the summer season has fully arrived. To keep me cool and comfortable while temperatures rise, I’m wearing mainly cottons and linens. Although I tend to wear the same colors all year-round, I do have some summer-only clothes, shoes and handbags.

Even when the heat sets in, I still want to look fashionable whenever I leave the house. So, I’ve also shifted my jewelry to lighter pieces, in terms of colors, materials and motifs.

When I think of summer colors, I think of white, of course, as well as coral, turquoise, pale jade, spring green, yellow and other pastels. I also like red as an accent to lighter hues.

When I put together a collection of vintage jewels that reflect the lightness of the season, I focused on these colors. I also looked for pieces that just say “fun.” Let’s see if you agree.

Summer Earrings

These long, screw-back Art Deco earrings are from the 1920s. The pair on the left (2″ long) is made from Celluloid, an early plastic; the color is called “apple juice.” The red pair on the right is 3 ¼” long. Both pairs have lots of movement and are fun to wear.

If the length and style of these earrings don’t suit you, here are some more tailored ear clips comprised of “milk glass.” The elegant 1950s pair on the left by Hattie Carnegie has milk-glass stones embellished with diamanté and gold-tone wire.

On the right is a Miriam Haskell creation from the late 1940s with a Machine Age motif. The milk glass beads are connected to disks of the same material with rhinestone rondelles in gold-tone wire. This construction allows the elements to move, an essential characteristic of Machine Age designs.

Summer Necklaces

High-quality vintage necklaces that feature set stones and beads are generally heavy, if their components aren’t plastics (such as Bakelite, Galalith and Celluloid). Certain styles, however, are lighter.

Two of these Art Deco necklaces are lightweight because the decorative elements are limited to the front or are widely-spaced around the chain. The delicate fringe necklace with small coral glass beads (on the left) has a paper-clip chain, which was a popular style in the 1920s.

On the right, the spring-green glass beads alternate with lightweight chrome panels, balls and chain. The beads in the necklace in the center are molded plastic (probably Galalith) to simulate carving.

Summer Brooches

Some women shy away from brooches because they don’t know how to wear this type of jewel or because they think a brooch will damage their clothing. I try to address this first concern with my styling tips.

Thanks to a fashion blogger, I’ve just learned how to avoid the second: attach a foam makeup sponge to the inside of your garment as you’re putting the pin through it. That said, be sure the fabric can handle the weight of the brooch.

These two pieces couldn’t be more different. On the left is a 1950s gold-tone brooch with coral enamel and a faux pearl accent, by Hattie Carnegie. The leaves look as though they’re blowing in the breeze. This brooch comes with matching earrings.

The Art Deco piece on the right, with its colorful glass triangles set at jaunty angles around a square, is playful and guaranteed to start a conversation!

Summer Bracelets

Bracelets are an especially appealing jewel to wear in the summer because we generally bare our arms and/or wrists with sleeveless, short-sleeved and bracelet-length sleeved garments.

Of course, the cuffs of a long-sleeved piece can always be turned back to reveal a bracelet. Here are two that say “summer” to me.

The application of Bakelite to jewelry making in the 1920s–1930s allowed designers to create whimsical pieces in colors that Mother Nature never imagined. This brown-marbled Bakelite bangle with six yellow dots is just one such example.

The piece on the right is from the 1950s. It has molded turquoise-glass leaves interspersed with diamanté and woven onto a gold-tone mesh cuff.

How to Wear Summer Jewels

You can see these and other pieces styled with contemporary casual, office and evening wear in How to Wear Vintage Jewelry.

Do you have certain jewelry that you wear only in the summer? Do you wear different colors in the summer? Do you love to wear vintage jewelry? Do you have favorite pieces? Do you like a particular style or decade? Please share in the comments section.

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Harvey Lee

Wow! Your collection is so beautiful. Every piece look so pretty. Thanks for nice post.


These are such lovely pieces. I have a collection of mosaic brooches from the 1930s that were made and sold as souvenirs in Italy.

I never take valuable jewellery on holiday and I have held on to some fun and colourful pieces from the late 70s through the 80s, when I was in my late teens and 20s. My favourite silver pieces are set with different shades of Baltic amber and can be worn all year round.

Wear pieces that stand out, don’t be invisible!


Those are beautiful pieces! I especially like the art deco brooch!

The Author

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.

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