The 10 Pieces Of Jewelry Every Woman Should Have In Her Jewelry Box

I’m often asked by women (mostly) if they had to pick one item of jewelry to purchase, what should that one item be? Ironically, I was reading an article in Harpers Bazar UK that suggested that it’s not about owning ONE piece of jewelry. There are TEN pieces every woman should have in her collection.  As it turns out, with a few minor tweaks, we couldn’t agree more. Here are our collective suggestions:



Diamond Studs

Yes. They should be real diamonds. No, they shouldn’t be Oprah sized (although her pear shaped drop studs are gorgeous). Think 1/2 carat or less in each ear. Keep them simple (four or six prong studs or a bezel set mounting) and you’ll be able to wear them with anything you own. Opt for a screw-back post, or better yet, Mecan Alpha backs, so you’ll be sure not to lose them. Think of these and your foundational investment in your jewelry wardrobe.


Gold Hoop Earrings

Some people are not the kind to change their earrings to match every outfit. If that’s you, then a pair of gold hoop earrings is a must. Again, yellow or white, we don’t care, but simplicity is key here. And size is next. Don’t go all “Jenny From The Block”. An inch in diameter is plenty. And you can switch them out with those diamond studs you took our advice and bought.

Vintage Look 14kt White Gold Diamond Solitaire Pendant Jewelry

A Gold Chain

White or yellow – we don’t care, as long as it’s not just any run of the mill gold chain, but a quiet statement piece. Think “simple pendant” or “the layered look”. Whatever you choose, keep the theme similar (all gold, or similar shapes) for continuity. And you can never go wrong with a diamond solitaire right at the nape of the neck. Best. Necklace. Ever.

Antique Art Deco Cultured Pearl, Ruby, and Diamond Double Strand Necklace Jewelry
Retro pearl necklace with a ruby and diamond clasp (Sold)

We’re big fans of strings of pearls here at Katie Callahan & Co. But simple pearl earrings also qualify (and are a very classic look while going with EVERYTHING). A choker strand is great for wearing with that low-cut LBD. And longer strands are understated elegance personified.

A (Vintage) Gemstone Ring

Of course we’re partial to the antique and vintage variety, but whether it’s Art Deco Tiffany’s or David Yurman, having a colored stone ring that you can wear adds a little color to our typical all black uniform. Oh wait, you don’t wear black and gray everyday? That’s just us you say? Pishaw. We know better. Yes, we’re looking at you NYC.

An Elegant Brooch

We’ve been saying for months now that the brooch is back! We’re seeing them on hipster, bohemians and even the Mooch (the man-brooch). We’re partial to Art Deco pieces but a bar pin or Victorian piece is a great idea for that sweater, jacket lapel or winter coat. Hint: we’ve even seen them showing up in the updos of some very gorgeous brides. Just sayin’.

Unusual Cartier Women's Watch Jewelry
Photo credit: Pinterest

A Simple Fine Watch

Harpers suggested a Cartier Tank watch in particular. While we love the classic Tank, we don’t think it’s the only option (a fine option, yes. The only option? No way.) An elegant two two Rolex is a nice choice, or even something a little further down the “number of paychecks it takes to purchase” scale is fine too. Just make sure to keep it clean and if you buy a less expensive option, when the metal starts to change color (and it will with stacked bracelets rubbing against it), get rid of it and go buy something else.

Vintage charm bracelet jewelry
Photo credit: Doyle and Doyle

A Charm Bracelet

Yes, your grandma likely had one. No, it doesn’t have to be filled with travel charms and gold silhouettes with grandkids’ birthdays engraved on the back. There are lots of options these days, including the popular Pandora bracelets. Us? Well, you know we’re old school, so we’re sticking with grandma’s version.


Vintage Yellow Gold Engraved Bracelet Jewelry
Photo credit: Doyle New York

A Gold Bangle

Harpers again turned to Cartier and the classic “Love Bangle”, but we say there are other options. A vintage hollow gold bangle (just be careful not to dent it) or an antique gold cuff – both work just as well with that diamond line bracelet we’re about to mention and are classic staple pieces.

Antique Diamond Line Bracelet Jewelry
Photo credit: Lang Antiques

A Diamond Line Bracelet

You might know these sparkling wrist stunners by their old name: tennis bracelets. But they’re not just for tennis players. They are a staple item that can be worn to a black tie event or the grocery store after pilates. Keeping it dainty and simple (hint: you don’t need 20 carats) will let you stack other bracelets with it now and then, it keeps you from looking overdressed in the carpool line. We’re a little biased to the antique version, but we’ll never turn down a nice diamond bracelet.

What do you think? Do you have all 10? Five of the 10? Or are you just stating to put your collection together. Drop us a line and let us know.


8 Responses

  1. Hello! I have all but the watch. I am a bassoonist and when i was in college my conductor hated hearing any tick or click or noise that wasn’t in the score. Plus I don’t like wearing heavy jewelry.
    My favorite piece is my grandmother’s pearl necklace, originally purchased just after WW2.

  2. That opal ring is lovely! Opals are my favorites, but I’m not born in October… How do you feel about that superstitious belief that opals are bad luck? Should I believe it?

    1. I just heard that wives tale this week! I’ve been wearing opals all my life (all 46 years) and my birthday is in July. And so far all is well. 🙂

    2. Brianne: I was just doing some research on opals for our blog post tomorrow about them and came across this on the GIA site: “Opal is considered an October birthstone. Some people think it’s unlucky for anyone born in another month to wear an opal. But that particular superstition comes from a novel written in the 1800s (Anne of Geierstein by Sir Walter Scott), and not from any ancient belief or experience. In fact, throughout most of history, opal has been regarded as the luckiest and most magical of all gems because it can show all colors. Once, it was thought to have the power to preserve the life and color of blond hair.”

  3. This is awesome. I have two daughters and we started a tradition with both of them where they got a charm bracelet on their first birthday and will get charms on big life events throughout childhood! Grandma might have had one, but my little girls still love it!

    1. I have one and I do the same thing! AND I have the charm my grandma had on her bracelet marking my birth. Believe it or not, they’re totally back in fashion right now. If you ask me, they never went out. I’m sure your girls will cherish there’s now and as adults!

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