Jewelry Trends

The 76 Types of Jewelry to Know and Own

Rachel Akmakjian

Author

Rachel Akmakjian

There are so many different types of jewelry to choose from. If you don’t think you’re a “jewelry wearer,” you likely haven’t found the right jewelry. Yes, there are your typical jewelry pieces, like wedding rings and chain bracelets. Still, jewelry goes beyond just the pieces you’re likely familiar with.

Defining the types of jewelry, though, can take time and effort. You can define and categorize jewelry by several factors, such as precious metals or precious stones used in the piece, formality, symbolism, or even the body part that wears the jewelry!

To help you explore all your options, here are the 76 types of jewelry to know. You’re bound to find something you want to wear!

Necklace

What You Will Learn

Types of Jewelry by Formality

Types of Jewelry by FormalityFirst, let’s look at types of jewelry by formality. Using these criteria, you can divide jewelry into three categories:

Fine jewelry must include an array of precious metals and gemstones and typically offers some decorative elements. Most fine jewelry also offers timeless beauty. You’d wear this type of jewelry for special occasions and then likely pass it down throughout the generations.

Fine jewelry often includes gold jewelry (especially pure gold or solid gold jewelry), pearl jewelry, and gemstone jewelry. Fine jewelry also usually features gemstones with a high carat weight. 

In short, fine jewelry is the most expensive and highest quality jewelry you can buy.

Costume jewelry, meanwhile, is rarely worn to formal events. It is made from lesser-quality materials or even fake materials that mimic the look of real precious metals and gemstones. Costume jewelry is often affordable and can be damaged without worry as the cost is so low.

Bridge jewelry, meanwhile, sits between costume jewelry and fine jewelry. This jewelry type includes filled gold pieces, for example, or sterling silver jewelry. It’s affordable but not super cheap. It’s suitable for everyday wear, but you likely still want to avoid damaging it.

Kinds of Jewelry Based on Purpose

Beyond jewelry types categorized according to their formality and materials used, you can also categorize jewelry based on purpose. While breaking jewelry down in this manner recognizes typical jewelry types like necklaces and bracelets, it also considers the vast swathe of other jewelry often contained within each category.

Necklaces

There are many different types of necklaces, with something for nearly every occasion, such as body shape, neckline, and other considerations.

There are:

  • Chain necklaces, which feature (of course) a chain
  • Pendant necklaces, which feature a pendant
  • Chokers, which offer a tight fit and no length whatsoever
  • Pearl necklaces, which come in varying lengths but always include pearls
  • Lariat necklaces, which feature a “Y” shape
  • Tennis necklaces, which feature gemstones along the necklace’s entirety
  • Collar necklaces, which are slightly longer than chokers and hang right about where a shirt collar might rest
  • Bib necklaces, which feature a bib-like shape with intricate designs that cover the majority of your neckline, much like a bib

Earrings

Similarly, you can find a wide, wide variety of earrings, including:

  • Stud earrings, which feature just a gemstone, ball of precious metal, or other design on a post
  • Drop earrings, which drop down from your ear but just below your earlobe
  • Dangle earrings, which drop down a little further
  • Chandelier earrings, which drop down even further and generally feature the most elaborate designs
  • Hoop earrings, available in various sizes, but constantly forming a circular hoop attached at the earlobe
  • Clip-on earrings, which do not require pierced ears
  • Cluster earrings, which feature clusters of gemstones
  • Halo earrings, which, much like halo rings, feature a large gemstone surrounded by a halo of smaller gemstones
  • Ear climbers, which curve around the natural curve of your ear
  • Huggie earrings, which appear to hug your earlobe because of their tight-fitting nature

Rings

A ring is a ring is a ring, right? Well, not exactly.

While rings don’t typically droop, hang, or have length in the same way that necklaces or earrings might, they still come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including:

  • Full eternity rings, which feature gemstones around the ring’s entirety
  • Half eternity rings, which feature gemstones around the outer-facing half of the ring, giving the appearance of a full eternity ring
  • Cocktail rings, often considered costume jewelry and featuring large, eye-catching gemstones and designs
  • Wedding bands, one of many types of bridal jewelry
  • Engagement rings, often worn with wedding bands
  • Signet rings featuring a flattened top and often meaningful symbols
  • Championship rings, given only to winners in sporting contests
  • Class rings, given to recognize a graduating class
  • Promise rings, representing either a promise to marry or a promise to abstain from sex
  • Thumb rings, specifically designed to be worn on the thumb

Bracelets

Bracelets similarly can be broken down based on design and symbolism. There are:

  • Bangle bracelets, which often feature a simple design and can be stacked and worn in multiples
  • Charm bracelets featuring charms symbolizing people, places, or things that are important to the wearer
  • Ankle bracelets, worn explicitly on the ankle
  • Beaded bracelets, made with beads, sometimes strung on an elastic band
  • Leather bracelets made from leather
  • Cuff bracelets, which feature a cuff-like design
  • Chain bracelets, made with one of the many types of chains
  • Tennis bracelets featuring a row of back-to-back gemstones, often cut into squares
  • Affirmation bracelets featuring unique beads or materials that symbolize an affirmation the wearer wants to remember
  • Armlets, kind of like a cuff bracelet, but worn on the upper arm
  • Italian charm bracelets, which feature plates engraved with symbols rather than charms that hang, like what you’d find in a traditional charm bracelet
  • Friendship bracelets, often woven and traded between friends
  • Gospel bracelets, made with different colors that represent a religious story
  • Medical bracelets, meant to convey information regarding one’s medical history

Hair and Head Ornaments

While we might not think of hair ornaments as jewelry, you can still find jewelry meant for adorning hair or the head. There are:

  • Crowns, typically used for symbolic purposes
  • Tiaras, often smaller than crowns and worn during formal affairs
  • Headbands, typically made just like your average headband but with more intricate designs and materials
  • Barrettes, which can also include gemstones and precious metals

Body Jewelry

Of course, some types of jewelry are also worn elsewhere on the body, as is the case with:

  • Belly earrings, worn in a piercing on the belly button
  • Belly chains, kind of a cross between a belt and a necklace
  • Brooches, worn on the chest or around the neck and pinned into one’s shirt or a similar fabric
  •  Chatelaines, a historic piece of jewelry that dangled from the waist

Even More Different Jewelry Types!

Did you know that the list above of jewelry types can be broken down into even more categories?

Rings Categorized by Setting

For example, rings can be categorized not just by their purpose but also by their settings–some settings can then be broken down into subcategories.

Prong settings, for example, are popular in rings and feature prongs that hold the ring’s gemstones in place — but there are different types of prong settings. There are:

  • Four prong settings (with four prongs)
  • Six prong settings (with six prongs)
  • Compass four prong settings (with the four prongs placed parallel and perpendicular to the ring’s band)
  • Claw prong settings (with a more distinct, claw-like style)
  • Double prong settings (with two prongs where there’d typically only be one)

Beyond prong settings, there are also channel settings, wherein the ring’s metal forms a channel to encase the gemstones. A pave setting places the gemstones as close together as possible for an almost honeycomb-like appearance. The gemstones sit flush with the band or precious metal in flush settings. In a bezel setting, a strip of metal wraps around the gemstone.

Jewelry Categorized by Material

Sometimes, different types of jewelry are categorized simply by the materials used in their manufacture. Popular options include:

  • Silver jewelry, including sterling silver, is the most popular option
  • Platinum jewelry is for a silver look but is much better in quality
  • Gold jewelry, including rose gold, white gold, and traditional yellow gold

While these are the most popular options, many other precious metals are used to craft jewelry on a smaller scale. Metals such as stainless steel are sometimes used to craft hypoallergenic jewelry suitable for sensitive skin, for example.

Jewelry isn’t just categorized by precious metal, however. Gemstones also play a part. You can find:

  • Diamond jewelry
  • Sapphire jewelry
  • Ruby jewelry
  • Emerald jewelry
  • Topaz jewelry
  • Amethyst jewelry

Many other gemstones are used in jewelry, though, from lapis lazuli to opals. These are just some of the most popular options.

Additionally, sometimes jewelry is made using other materials and other metals that are neither gemstones nor precious metals. You can find jewelry made from shells and coral, wood and leather, plastic, enamel, and more.

Types of Jewelry Based on Symbolism

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Sometimes, jewelry is best broken down by the cultural or personal meaning an item holds. For example, there are:

  • Heirloom jewelry, like a signet ring or other piece passed down through generations
  • Prayer beads, used in someone’s personal religious practice
  • Navratna jewelry, containing nine gems representing celestial bodies and bringing good luck
  • Bridal jewelry, specifically attached to a wedding or engagement

How to Pick the Right Type of Jewelry for You

So, how do you pick the best type of jewelry for you out of all these various types? Here are the factors you should consider.

Personal Style

First and foremost, of course, is your unique sense of personal style. While there’s nothing wrong with expanding your horizons and trying out a new jewelry style, you likely won’t want to invest a large amount of money (think thousands of dollars) into a piece of jewelry that doesn’t match what you usually go for.

If you tend to be more casual and laid-back, you likely won’t get a ton of use out of a super-formal piece or a big, flashy cocktail ring. Similarly, if your style is big and bold, you might not prefer something simple and plain.

As you shop for jewelry, look for pieces that have a unique charm and match your personality.

Quality and Durability

Along these same lines, you’ll want to choose jewelry that offers the quality and durability to match your budget and lifestyle.

For example, if you’re shopping for a wedding ring but frequently hike, garden, or otherwise engage in activities that might damage it, you’ll want to opt for an option that has the quality and durability to withstand any potential damage (in this instance, you might choose a silicone ring, which can’t be scratched or nicked!).

Likewise, if you want an investment piece that will withstand the test of time and pass it down to your children and later grandchildren, don’t feel bad about springing for a more expensive piece made from high-quality precious metals and gemstones. This is no occasion for costume jewelry.

Symbolism

In some cases, you might want to specifically look for jewelry with some sort of special symbolism that will matter to you and result in you treasuring the piece all the more.

For example, if you want to honor your heritage, maybe you research the types of jewelry popular in the Middle East in ancient times and buy something similar. If you’re looking for a piece that will hold spiritual significance, look to the various pieces that can connect to your religion’s heritage. For jewelry that symbolizes a strong relationship with someone you love, whether a romantic partner or not, look to friendship bracelets or rings, promise rings, and even permanent jewelry.

Complexion and Coloring

When choosing jewelry, it is important to consider your complexion and coloring. Just like certain colors may look best with your skin tone and hair color, so will certain metals and gemstones.

Skin tones fall into three categories: cool, warm, and neutral. Cool skin tones are often pale, and your hair might be blonde, dark brown, or black if you have a cool skin tone. Your veins likely look blue beneath your skin. Warm skin tones show off green-ish veins, and if you have a warm skin tone, your hair might be red, blonde, brown, or black. Neutral skin tones fit neither of these categories.

Cool skin tones look best with silver, white gold, and similar metals like platinum. Warm skin tones look great with warm hue metals like yellow, gold, and copper. Cool skin tones look great with purple, blue, and red gemstones, while warm skin tones pair nicely with yellow, orange, and green gemstones. Both skin tones can effortlessly wear diamonds and pearls.

If you have a neutral skin tone — good news — you can wear all the above!

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Need More Jewelry Know-How?

Hopefully, this guide has given you a deeper look into all things jewelry, including the various types and categories of jewelry that exist. Believe it or not, this only scratches the surface!

To learn more, check out the BriteCo blog, where we cover everything you could need to know as a jewelry shopper or owner, from care guides to shopping guides and everything in between.

Also Check:

Mother’s Day Jewelry Ideas | BriteCo Jewelry Insurance

 

 

 

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Rachel's expertise is further enhanced by her distinction as a Graduate Gemologist from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA), equipping her with exceptional knowledge in gem identification and grading. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.