For something to be considered luxurious, does it have to be prohibitively expensive?
If you’d posed that question just a few years ago, the answer might have been (whether you want to admit it or not) ‘yes’. But a galvanising change has been afoot in more recent history. Sure, if you want to drop figures on a baseball cap, go wild — but we now live in a world of high-street It bags (that would be Uniqlo’s £14.90 halfmoon mini shoulder bag) and a thriving pre-loved industry. Nowhere can you see the shift more starkly, however, than with jewellery. Now you are as likely to spot a sub-£150 necklace on the red carpet as you are multi-carat bling that comes with its own security detail — which is excellent news for those of us yet to scoop a minor royal or major shipping magnate.
Leading the charge is the cult London-based jewellery brand Missoma, known for its playful designs that seem to anticipate IRL trends (huggie hoops, pearls and layering necklaces). Established by Marisa Hordern in 2008, Missoma was born after she realised “there was a niche for affordable, quality, fashion-forward pieces that you could wear every single day that would last, were great quality but also wouldn’t break the bank, and you could buy for yourself. In those days there was only really cheap jewellery or fine jewellery that was unaffordable.”
People are often surprised to find out that the brand has been going for 15 years, says Horden. Finding the sweet spot price point has taken years to get right. Hordern laughs that she spent “seven years in the wilderness, educating people about the difference between gold plating and gold vermeil.”
In case you wondered, gold plating is a very fine layer of gold layered on to inexpensive base metal, whereas vermeil is at least 2.5 microns of gold plated on to sterling silver, making for a finer, more durable, lasting piece. Missoma’s word-of-mouth success and has been propelled by Instagram.
It is also a formidable celebrity hit. “We always say we’re the brand they choose to wear not that they’re paid to wear,” says Hordern — spotted on the likes of the Hadid sisters, Emily Ratajkowski, JLo and Sienna Miller. K-Pop star V from BTS has been wearing a malachite pendant (£198) from the brand’s Harris Reed collaboration. Mia Regan is fronting the new campaign (“She has worn us organically for years,” says Hordern). When Margot Robbie wore a Missoma necklace to the Vanity Fair Oscars party, she was later seen wearing it at the airport and for a surf. A different piece later popped up in Barbie, a complete surprise.
Given their profiles, these people are spoilt for choice and could have their pick of houses to choose from. Access and budget aren’t limiting factors to them, so why does she think they return to pieces that any of us normies could log on and buy? “I think they go back to us because there’s distinctive design, it’s fun, it’s cool, it’s lightweight to wear in the ears, it’s easy to wear layered up or with lots of different things. It’s not saying you can only wear one thing,” she says, adding they often see fans wear it alongside Tiffany and Cartier heirlooms or vintage finds, which chimes with the democratic mood of getting dressed now.
Despite being a consummate Internet brand, next month Missoma opens its first bricks-and-mortar store in Seven Dials — a big moment for the brand. As Hordern puts it: “We’re constantly moving, we never stay still.”
The new drops to know now
Elhanati’s organic pieces are hand made in Denmark and draw on founder Orit Elhanati’s Middle Eastern heritage. Her collaboration with artist Conie Vallese’s is a sculptural, minimal take on romanticism. elhanati.com
Being given jewellery is lovely (no complaints!) but buying it for yourself is more empowering. Inclusive brand Mejuri is the Toronto company rewriting the narrative around the sparkly stuff. mejuri.com
Make it a double-double. London sisters Christie and Rosanna Wollenberg of Otiumberg have joined forces with Australian sibling duo Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman for architectural collection. otiumberg.com
More, more, more! Under Giovanna Battaglia’s creative direction, Swarovski is more fabulous than ever. The holiday campaign (shot by Steven Meisel) makes the case for piling on the crystals. swarovski.com
Diamonds for all
Often feted for their ethical and environmental merits, lab-grown diamonds are also (whisper it) less expensive than their all-natural counterparts. Pandora’s pieces, which start at £225, are made using sustainable energy and recycled gold and silver. As campaign star, the always dazzling Pamela Anderson, puts it: "It is actually the more radical, kind-of-glamorous move." uk.pandora.net
Not all watches require you to remortgage your home…
TISSOT PRX Powermatic 80 18K gold bezel watch, £1,770, tissotwatches.com
Seiko watch, £260, seikoboutique.co.uk
Christopher Ward C65, Dune Automatic watch, £750, christopherward.com
Raymond Weil watch, £995, raymond-weil.co.uk
Blacpain X Swatch, Antarctic Ocean watch, £340, Swatch Covent Garden, 020 7836 5833