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Jewellery

Diamond RingDiamonds are said to be a girl's best friend - although rubies, sapphires and emeralds surely run a close second - so is it any wonder that jewellery is one of the biggest female vices around? Second only to chocolate (and perhaps shoes), baubles are probably also the most costly of our indulgences - but whether it be Tiffany's or Claire's, they're worth every penny.

As the most popular accessory market, jewellery encompasses necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, anklets, body jewellery and a motley collection of other improbable items, which vary according to fashion trends and stores.

In this section we'll focus mainly on the mainstream items, looking at the best buys in town (both designer and high street) and also the best styles to go for.

We'll start with earrings. More than 80% of women in the UK have pierced ears, so its fair to assume that earrings are a popular purchase among the fairer sex. Styles vary from studs to longer 'dangly' styles, and picking what's right for you depends not just on the occasion or outfit, but also your face shape, neck and skin colour.

First of all, picking between gold and silver. Most people will, to a certain extent, suit both, but as a general rule if you have an olive complexion or very pale skin (especially with red hair), then silver works best, balancing the yellowy or icy tones. If you have a creamier complexion (as many blondes and mid-brunettes do) then gold is often the better option, as it enhances the warmth in your face. People with dark skin generally favour silver, whilst those with Asiatic skin can get away with both colours.

Next, style. It's pretty simple, actually: if you have a longer neck, then studs or very short earrings suit well, whereas short necks suit longer earrings better as they elongate the neck. However, make sure never to buy earrings which touch your shoulders. This, sadly, will simply make you look like a 5-year-old girl playing dress up with her mother's jewellery. Unless you are partial to this particular look, steer clear.

Detailing is the least important of all earring rules - in that colours and designs are usually left to individual choice. Just don't make the common mistake of having too many pairs - otherwise you will never wear some of them, and it's such a waste.

Following down the body in a gravitational direction, we encounter the neck. Just as Ted Baker Necklacethe word earring was taken from the concept of placing a ring of metal in one's ear, so the word necklace was adapted from the fashion of wearing a strip of lace around one's neck. A fabulous idea, despite the lack of originality when it came to choosing a name.

Necklaces follow the same rules as earrings for colour and, generally speaking, length. That is to say, shorter necks benefit from necklaces which hang in the middle of your décolletage, whilst longer necks can wear chokers and torques with ease.

However, necklaces must take into account the outfit being worn. If it's a shift dress, polo neck shirt or other high-necked item of clothing, then either a choker or nothing at all (depending on how much neck can be seen) is the only answer. For very low-cut items, a longer necklace is ideal, especially if you wish to draw attention to that area. Try to stop the shape of your necklace from mimicking that of your top, and don't wear intricate jewellery with a simple jumper.

The final rule for necklaces is that they are not always necessary. If you have big, bold earrings then a necklace will simply detract and make your whole face look far too cluttered. If you have a choice between a necklace and earrings, generally earrings will look better. Similarly, matching sets do not always work well together. Play around and experiment - you may find a surprising pairing from two items you never thought would work.

Continuing our downward trend, we next encounter wrists and hands. Luckily, by this stage the tips and hints are steadily decreasing, and thus the only wisdom we feel obliged to impart is the importance of numbers.

 This is to say that whilst on occasion several rings or bracelets can be effective, most of the time it is better to keep things simple. With hands, more is less. The multi-bracelet look can look stunning, but it can also end up making you look like a gypsy. With rings, again, the less the better. Two on any hand is acceptable, but no more than three at a time should really be worn, unless you want to look like a gun moll. Thumb rings aren't the most feminine of items, but if you have the flair to pull it off can look quite dramatic.

That's the main jewellery pieces taken care of - but now you know what to buy, where are you going to get it?

For everyday items, especially those that you'll swap to suit different outfits, are best bought from the high street. Shops like Claire's and Diamonds & Pearls offer a huge range of items that are designed to complement current fashions at reasonable prices, so it's worth popping in and picking up a pair or two. Likewise, most fashion stores such as New Look, Topshop and Next have extensive jewellery sections. . Cheaper jewellery isn't the best quality, and you certainly won't be getting diamonds, but for around £10 you can get a decent quality 9ct gold or sterling silver piece that is pretty durable and at the very least won't turn your skin green.
With these sorts of items, it's not too expensive if you want to play around with colours, styles or combinations, and of course jewellery is the best way to try out new fashion trends to see if they'll work for you. If it looks good in earrings and a necklace, it should look pretty good in a real outfit.

Of course, once you know what suits you, you can splash out on a couple of more expensive items. These vary in price from high street jewellers such as H. Samuel at the low end to Beaverbrooks or Ernest & Jones at the top end, with costs ranging from a few pounds to a few hundred or thousand pounds.
Then you have the top end, the designer brands. We're talking Tiffany & Co, Harry Winston, Chopard. These guys know what they're doing when it comes to jewellery. Of course, they have the price tag to match - often stretching into a couple of million for certain pieces! - but if you've got the money, they're worth every single penny. And what's more, they'll only increase in value as time goes by - so it's not a frippery, it's an investment for your children. At least, that's what you tell your husband…


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