Stack and layer your heart out with fashion director Shelly Vella’s guide to the coolest brands doing ‘demi-fine’ jewellery – luxe pieces that look like they will break the bank… but won’t!
Ever snapped up an on-trend ring from the high street only to find that it leaves your finger with a strange green hue after just one wear? Costume jewellery may be fun and a bargain but it tarnishes easily, so isn’t ideal for everyday wear. And who’s got thousands lying spare to splurge on a ring?
However, the trend for piling on jewellery isn’t going away. Women of all ages and walks of life are stacking rings on every finger and adorning their lobes with rows of earrings. And luckily the fashion industry offers them the perfect compromise: demi-fine jewellery.
Bridging the gap between fine and fashion jewellery, these mid-price brands cater for women who want to indulge in timeless, good-quality pieces without the hefty price tag. Demi-fine pieces aren’t packed with low-grade metals such as nickel or copper, which fade quickly and aggravate skin. Plus the use of sterling silver, lower-carat golds or gold-plated silver – along with semi-precious moonstones, quartz, topaz, turquoise or teeny pavé diamonds cultivated in laboratories – means that prices are reasonable.
This accessibility, combined with clever celebrity collaborations, has seen the number of demi-fine jewellery brands boom, so that covetable pieces are no longer just a gift for special occasions but something we can treat ourselves to. Here are the brands you need to know…
The mid-price jewellery brands to have on your radar
The fashionista’s favourite: Otiumberg
Price range: £25 to £670
The brainchild of stylish sisters Christie and Rosanna Wollenberg, the brand was born after they struggled to find elegant, everyday jewellery that wouldn’t break the bank. The label, which eschews trends in favour of enduring pieces, fast became a go-to among fashion editors and celebrities (Margot Robbie is a loyal customer).
Before entering the jewellery world, Rosanna lived in Buenos Aires, Barcelona and New York, while Christie worked for Burberry and Louis Vuitton. Their backgrounds have given their designs a contemporary twist, with inspiration taken from all over the world. Think stacking rings, delicate hoops and personalised charms.
Everything is ethically and sustainably made and the duo keep costs down by designing seasonless pieces that are crafted by hand. There’s no bulk ordering here – stock levels are kept to a minimum, which means less waste and therefore purse-friendly prices.
WHAT TO BUY: A huggie hoop – the brand’s 9-carat gold version (£127 per earring) is a bestseller. My favourite pieces are the personalised yellow gold and pearl letter necklace charms and the pearl and white sapphire huggie. otiumberg.com
The forever pieces: V by Laura Vann
Price range: £30 to £265
Sustainability and ethical responsibility are at the heart of Laura Vann’s jewellery.
Her glittering, gem-infused designs include the art deco-like Daphne earrings, which have been worn by Meghan Markle, and the Freya necklace, which is made from 18-carat yellow gold-plate with synthetic baguette-cut emeralds (they are much less expensive than natural gems).
Laura, whose father worked in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter wholesaling fine and costume jewellery, studied fashion journalism before deciding to join the family business and switching to jewellery design instead.
Her brand is now stocked in John Lewis and Harvey Nichols and she has a loyal following that includes celebrities such as Daisy Lowe and Katy Perry. She recently added a diamond engagement ring collection (from £2,500).
The A-list accessories: Daisy London
Price range: £19 to £249
Catapulted into mainstream popularity by collaborations with TV presenter Laura Whitmore and fashion blogger Estée Lalonde, not to mention red-carpet sightings on the likes of Ellie Goulding, Cara Delevingne and Sienna Miller, Daisy London has become one of Britain’s favourite jewellery brands.
Founded by a father-and-son duo in 2009, the label is now helmed by creative director Ruth Bewsey, who was also the company’s first employee. She is passionate about jewellery that can be layered and worn every day and the brand majors in bold shapes and distinctive designs made from sterling silver or 18-carat-gold-plated sterling silver.
WHAT TO BUY: Don’t miss the sunburst designs from the Estée Lalonde collection – available in rings, necklaces and earrings (from £19). Its beautiful charm hoop earrings are also hard to resist (from £45). daisyjewellery.com
The Scandi stylista: Anni Lu
Price range: £25 to £245
Inspired by her late mother and daughter’s names (Anni and Luella), Helle Vestergaard Poulsen created Anni Lu after years of working as a creative director for Danish fashion magazines. Helle’s pretty and delicate designs are packed with eye-catching semi-precious stones and seed beads – the sort that remind you of sun-drenched summer holidays.
WHAT TO BUY: Must-haves include her pretty pearl hoops (from around £49), tiny golden shell pendants (around £43) and coveted ‘Bite me’ earrings and necklace (£85). annilu.dk
The dainty desirables: Kaaren Buchanan
Price range: £28 to £172
Designer Kaaren draws inspiration from her modelling days in New York in the 1990s and family holidays in Hawaii for her affordable line of dainty jewels. She keeps costs down by using gold-plated silver decorated with semi-precious stones such as opals, lapis and zirco. Her use of tiny gemstones adds a little extra glamour to the gold pendants and stud earrings that have earned her an army of loyal fans, including model Jodie Kidd and comedian Katherine Ryan.
WHAT TO BUY: The beautiful balloon ring (below) has gained a huge Instagram following while the beaded bracelets (below) and necklaces are fabulous worn either alone or layered. kaarenbuchanan.com
The affordable luxury: Alex Monroe
Prices from £75
Often considered fine jewellery that is way out of most people’s budgets, Alex has striven to make his brand more affordable by creating his nature-inspired designs, including his iconic bumblebee charm, in a range of metals – from silver to rose-gold plate (sterling silver, plated with 22-carat rose gold) and 18-carat yellow gold. It means his jewellery, which can be seen on many a TV character – the trademark ear cuff of Doctor Who’s Jodie Whittaker or Dr Foster’s dragonflies – and has fans that include Holly Willoughby and Anna Friel, is now more accessible. For example, £135 for a silver bumblebee necklace, rather than £2,400 for the gold version. Each item boasts the brand’s high quality – all are hand-finished using sustainably sourced materials by craftspeople in London and Birmingham.
WHAT TO BUY: I’ve collected Alex’s jewellery for years and recommend any of the bird or bee necklaces. Many loyal customers have chosen the brand for their wedding rings (from £295 for a sapphire engagement ring). alexmonroe.com
The cult classic: Missoma
Price range: £25 to £475
From the moment it launched in 2008, Missoma has been at the top of everyone’s wish list. It also has the royal seal of approval – the Duchess of Cambridge and her sister-in-law Meghan have both been seen sporting the label’s covetable pieces.
A collaboration with influencer Lucy Williams in 2015 yielded pieces such as the ‘mini fang’ necklace which, at only £95, became a style staple for those in the know – yes, I too succumbed and wear mine every day.
Each piece is made from sterling silver and 18-carat gold plated on brass. It’s all designed in-house to reflect its founder Marisa Hordern’s passion for travel and culture.
WHAT TO BUY: Pieces to look out for include the chunky hoops (from £75), chain necklaces (from £80) and Lucy Williams’s now cult gold coin necklaces (from £75). missoma.com