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Jewelry trends that were considered cool in the 90s are cool once again. We can’t get enough of the accessory trends from our youth: hoop earrings, chain belts, chokers, anklets, and mood rings.
Lucky for us, designers are constantly taking cues from the past, and innovating them to fit modern tastes.
If you want to add a hint of nostalgia to your style, keep on reading about how to rock 90s jewelry trends so you’ll look cool without going old-school.
The 90s Jewelry Trend—a Decade of Change
The 90s was an iconic era that made fashion more accessible to everyone. Characterized by many overlapping and even contradictory looks, the 90s was an exciting time for fashion. It was the decade that brought us grunge, glamor, and retro-hippie looks, as well as an eclectic mix of jewelry trends. The 90s jewelry trends were mainly inspired by music genres and pop culture.
Like most decades, fashion and jewelry trends drastically changed from the beginning of the 90s to the end. Grunge style was influenced by rock bands and hip-hop artists in the early 90s and became “fashion” when the look was sent down to the runway. The jewelry trends in the early 90s reflected grunge styles—think chokers, leather cuffs, safety pin bracelets, Gothic crosses, and oversized studs.
In the mid-90s, the grunge look faded away and glamor was in. Hoop earrings, chain belts, chandelier earrings, cocktail rings, anklets, and hair jewels became a trademark of glamor fashion. Animal prints and faux fur were everywhere. In the late 90s, hippie fashion began to re-enter the fashion world, pushing grunge fashion out completely.
Types of 90s Jewelry
Jewelry played a key role in expressing your personality and style, a trend that continued from the 1980s.
Earrings were typically large and dramatic but didn’t have the bold colorful look of 1980s earrings. Circular hoop earrings have lost their popularity, but they have never actually gone out of style. Large and oversized silver hoops were a big trend in the 90s. Diamond stud earrings were a classic choice, but drop earrings, chandelier earrings, and oversized studs were the go-to jewelry for formal events and the red carpet.
Gold chain bracelets, huge bangles, leather cuffs, and tattoo bracelets were a big deal in the 90s. Narrow bracelets made of silver or gold were popular for minimalists, but they were also ideal for stacking on your arm for a dramatic style.
Colorful snap bracelets might seem more like a toy than a piece of jewelry, but there were chicer styles designed for women who liked the playful style—think of animal prints, rhinestones, and metallic finishes.
Mood rings, which were popular in the 1970s, resurfaced and became an in-thing again. These were known for their color-changing bands with glitter specs, came in a variety of colors and styles, and were supposed to decode the wearer’s emotions. Cocktail rings, lucite rings, and toe rings were also popular in the 90s.
1990s Hair Accessories
Crystal headbands, jeweled baby barrettes, scrunchies, and butterfly clips were popular in the 90s. Though butterfly clips came in pastel and bright colors, there were elevated versions with crystal embellishments in silver and gold tones too, making them an elegant finishing touch to your night look.
Ponytails in the 90s were nothing without scrunchies—the accessory might seem basic, but there was a variety of styles to choose from. From pastel colors to black velvet to crystal-embellished ones, these scrunchies made 90s fashion more stylish.
1990s Choker Necklace
The 90s choker necklaces were a reflection of grunge and glamor fashion. In fact, the necklace style varied from plastic tattoo chokers and simple black band chokers to diamond-and-pearl chokers throughout the decade. Leather chokers with metal clasps, chain details, and spiky designs, along with plastic-made netted chokers evoked 90s grunge with a rebellious vibe.
In the mid-90s, choker designs strayed away from the grunge look towards the art deco look—but more minimalist in style. In fact, matching studs and chokers became a jewelry trend in the mid-90s.
Pearl chokers also became popular in the 90s, with style icons like Princess Diana often seen sporting pearl chokers.
1990s Body Chains
Ears and necks often get adorned in sparkly metals and jewels, but don’t forget your waist. A belt might seem more of an accessory, but the 90s chain belt trend featured crystal-embellished strands in gold or silver tones, which made them more of a piece of jewelry. Some of them were even adorned with medallions, pearls, rhinestones, and charms.
This might have been a resurgence of the 60s-era evening belt, in subtler and minimalist styles, but they perfectly fitted the 90s glamor. Some designers even managed to design chain belts that doubled as a necklace—you could wear it in a single strand on the waist or as a layered necklace on your neck.
Chain belts dominated the catwalk in this period. Burberry and Celine featured their subtle chain belts, while Versace embraced elaborate chains with gold and coin detailing. Some chain belts more closely mirrored our jewelry than traditional belts, but some took the edgier vibe of grunge fashion. Metal link belts trimmed with leather and adorned with safety pins, padlocks, and paper clips had a tough look and were a nod to the grunge influence.
How to Wear 90s Jewelry Today
To bring the 90s jewelry trend to a whole new level, incorporate your vintage accessories into your modern wardrobe. Here are some ways to bring the 1990s trends into the 2000s:
- Earrings draw attention to your face, and 90s earrings will give you some serious style points. Save your big hoop earrings for going out, and opt for small gold hoops for work.
- Chandelier earrings, oversized studs, and drop earrings are foolproof—you can wear them on casual weekends to dress up your jeans or make your little black dresses glamorous for a party.
- Wearing a choker necklace or a pair of earrings with a dolphin or Gothic cross detail with your denim jacket tank top is a subtle way to test the 90s look.
- If you want to make a statement, reach for your gold bangles and chain belts. From gemstone-embossed options to crystal and pearl detailing, chain belts are perfect to spice up your everyday denim jeans, high-waist trousers, skirts, and dresses.
- Bring on the retro look with scrunchies in glamorous velvet designs, making your effortless buns and ponytails fashion-forward.
- High-end jewelry is embracing the fun side of 90s fashion as elevated mood rings with extra-decorative elements are having a huge moment too.
But a word of warning
There’s a fine line between 90s-inspired and 90s-themed, so avoid getting a head-to-toe vintage look. Think of mixing your vintage pieces with your modern ensemble. For example, if you’re wearing a 90s scrunchie, pair it with a modern outfit, for a cool, balanced look.
Large statement earrings? Then leave out the chain belt or the choker necklace. Find that balance that allows you to showcase your 1990s jewelry without going overboard. The key is to find the right balance between wearing 1990s pieces and still looking modern.
Where to Buy 90s Jewelry
The 90s fashion is making a big comeback, and it’s one of the best reasons to shop sustainably. Going shopping at your local shops that specialize in vintage jewelry can be such a treat. However, if you’re looking for an easier and more convenient option, think of Etsy and Amazon, which are great for finding one-of-a-kind 90s jewelry. One of our favorite shops on Etsy is Persephone Vintage which has a curated modern vintage selection, and 90s jewelry in minimalist and geometric styles.
Fashion is cyclical where trends from past decades come and go and come again. Since we’re seeing the return of the 90s jewelry trend, it’s time to show off those vintage accessories you buried away years ago. And if you’re from the ‘00s, hey then you get to explore the awesome fashion era that is the 90s from scratch. By heeding our guide, you’ll be able to give a nod to the past and look fashion-forward at the same time.