Bridal Jewelry: Beyond the Rings

Rethinking Costume Jewelry and Choosing Fine Pieces You Can Actually Wear Again

For most brides, the most important piece of jewelry is the engagement ring, with the wedding band following in a close second. In some cultures, other bridal jewelry has significance, like gifts of gold jewelry or certain adornments for the bride. Whether passed down from a tradition of dowry gifts or from religious symbolism, jewelry has a very meaningful role when it comes to weddings.


This amazing 18k rose gold collar with pave` diamond flowers was handmade at 
Secrète Fine Jewelry years ago, but its elegance stands the test of time. We still have the mold if you'd like one of your own. 

In modern America, when we talk about bridal jewelry, however, there’s a bit of dissonance. On one hand (literally), there’s the engagement ring and band, likely the most valuable, permanent, and meaningful pieces of jewelry a woman will own; on the other, there’s the rhinestone-encrusted ornaments a bride wears on her wedding day-- likely the cheapest, most disposable, and mass-produced pieces of jewelry she will ever wear.

It makes us wonder why “bridal” jewelry is so not-special-- why women wearing platinum and diamonds on their ring finger will also wear silver-colored plastic with hot-glued fake pearls for the same occasion. It's also, most of the time, jewelry that she will never wear again (and all of us who have been bridesmaids know the frustration of buying something to wear with the joke that we might actually wear it again). 

Ok, let’s be honest: it’s not about taste, because disposable “bridal” jewelry is a cultural norm, it’s a phenomenon that has invaded even the chicest of bridal boutiques and stylized photographs.

Our best guess is that the trend for costume jewelry for brides to wear with their beautiful wedding gowns is a practical one: you’ve already spent a lot on the rings, on the gown, the venue, the cake, the catering, the flowers, everything. And you just don’t have the lifestyle that requires owning fine jewelry fit for a formal ball-gown. Fair enough.

We have a different philosophy-- that you can choose fine jewelry pieces selectively, that it’s better to have two or three very nice things you wear all the time than dozens of disposable cheap things-- call it the elegant French woman’s approach to fashion, call it quality over quantity,  or call it an investment-- any way you put it, you’ll probably get more satisfaction out of making wise choices that last a lifetime, no matter what your budget may be. We are also just fundamentally against wearing jewelry that turns your skin green, especially on your wedding day.


This dramatic necklace featuring Tahitian pearls, aquamarines, kunzite, and diamonds in 18k white gold would be an amazing statement piece for any bride. After your wedding, the jewelers at Secrète can convert the pearl and aquamarine dangles into dramatic earrings and preserve the diamond-surrounded kunzite center as a piece you can wear every day. 

A great way you can have a glamorous look on your wedding day that you can actually wear again is to choose pieces that can be converted for more than one look, or plan to choose a few special pieces that you'll treasure forever. Here are our tips and recommendations for looking your best on your wedding day!

1. Earring Jackets

Earring jackets are discs that slip between the back of an earring and the earlobe to enhance the look of a stud earring. Whether you choose an elegant diamond flower shape, a classic gold shell, or a dramatic drop, earring jackets can elevate the look of earrings you already own and be switched between all of your earrings to create many looks in one.

On your wedding day, consider wearing diamond earring jackets with small pearl studs for an elegant, traditional look, or around sapphire studs for your “something blue.” Later, you can wear them with simple diamond studs for a date night, with fun birthstone-earrings to glam up the look, or whenever you need a little extra sparkle around your face.

2. Enhancers

This pink sapphire and diamond enhancer pendant looks beautiful dangling from pinkish South Sea pearls. The versatility of enhancer pendants make them a worthy investment. 

An enhancer is a pendant with a special type of bail that clips on and off of larger necklaces like strands of pearls or other beaded necklaces. We love these for weddings because they can make the pearl necklace you wear to the office look more glamorous for the big day, but they can also be worn on their own with a simple chain for a more subdued look.


This gorgeous 18k white gold, diamond, and pink tourmaline enhancer looks as gorgeous on its own as it does clipped on a strand of South Sea pearls. Secrète can custom-design an enhancer-style pendant for you to treasure on your wedding day (and for the rest of your life)!

3. Pendants and special chains

A similar idea is to choose pendants that can be worn a fancy chain-- like a chain featuring diamonds or special cut patterns-- for a beautiful wedding look-- then wear the pendants on simple chains for everyday use, or wear the fancier chains alone for an understated approach. You'll love being able to remember your wedding day every time you put on your favorite necklace. 

4. Brooches

Most jewelry stores have an estate collection full of beautiful brooches that offer lovely vintage designs. You can actually find different ways to clip antique brooches and pins on necklaces for unique bridal looks, then use the pieces separately later.


This double strand of pearls is classic and office-appropriate, and the vintage enameled gold brooch is a sweet and charming accessory. When they're combined, and the brooch is used as a pearl separator, it creates a show-stopping bridal look perfect for a spring wedding! Available in the estate cabinet at Secrète DuPont Circle. 

5. Layers

Often layered jewelry gives a cool, bohemian look, but there’s a way to layer jewelry to keep it classic and elegant. If you stick to the same color story and chain style, you can make two or three necklaces look like one impressive piece for your big day! If you’re worried about them tangling, a jeweler can arrange them on one clasp for your big day, then switch it back to normal after you return from your honeymoon!

These two necklaces are classic when worn on their own, but layered, they make an impressive statement for your wedding day! 

6. Choosing one special piece

At the end of the day, you’ll treasure the heirlooms that help you remember your wedding and the people who made it meaningful. One personal, heirloom quality jewelry piece will make a more lasting wedding gift than anything you could register for at a big-box store, so consider discussing it with your parents, godparents, or another loved one-- it’s totally fine to say that instead of the gravy boat or the electric mixer attachments, you’d really just love the perfect pair of earrings, bracelet, or necklace that you’ll treasure forever.

Secrète made these beautiful sapphire drop earrings for a lovely couple in Washington, DC. They decided to save and skip little meaningless gifts for a few years in favor of these custom earrings that she and their family will cherish for generations. Quality speaks, not quantity. 


For help selecting bridal jewelry that will last a lifetime, contact us or stop by our store in Wildwood Shopping Center in Bethesda, MD or in DuPont Circle in Washington, DC. Our master jeweler, Mr. Soo, hand makes each piece of jewelry using time-honored traditional techniques, and our small team will give you the personal attention you deserve. 

Abigail Bracy