Individuality and personal expression were very important to people in the 1980s. Big shapes and bold colours were a way to make a strong impression on others, so ’80s fashions embraced them in clothing and jewellery. While today’s styles tend to be more subtle than in the ’80s, you can still make a strong statement by incorporating a vintage piece from this period into your outfits. You may find vintage ’80s pieces as part of estate jewellery sales.
Much of the individualistic expression of this decade grew out of the punk counterculture. This anti-establishment ideological movement first arose during the mid-1970s but was still very evident during the ’80s. It centered around opposition to corporate greed, authoritarianism, consumerism, and conformism. One way that people embraced the counterculture was through greater fluidity of gender expression. For example, both men and women wore large pieces of flashy jewellery, and men were more likely to wear jewellery pieces traditionally associated with women, such as earrings.
Ultra-bright colours, also known as “hot,” “fluorescent,” or “neon,” have existed since the 1930s. Originally, they only served utilitarian purposes, increasing the visibility of workers’ safety clothing or warning signs. In the 1980s, people going to nightclubs liked the look of fluorescent colours and started incorporating them in their clothing for purely aesthetic purposes. Fashion designers responded, and soon, ultra-bright colours were everywhere.
Neon colours in the 1980s were a reaction against the more muted earth tones of the previous decade. However, not all bold colours were fluorescent. You can also find costume jewellery from this era in striking shades of red and navy blue.
Rap music came into its own during the 1980s, and the heavy gold jewellery favoured by rappers gradually made its way into the mainstream in the form of long, chunky chains. However, not all long necklaces in the ’80s were made of gold or gold-coloured material. Women often wore long strings of pearls, sometimes knotted at one end. Another popular style was heavy necklaces of multiple strings of beads, often imitating pearls. Silver jewellery in a long-Y or lariat-style necklace was also common.
Perhaps the most notable of ’80s jewellery trends were the large earrings. Popular designs included oversized hoops, large gold discs, or chunky pieces of costume jewellery, sometimes in whimsical designs. The oversized earrings were so heavy that some couldn’t be worn in pierced ears because they could tear the skin. For this reason, clip-on earrings became more popular during this era.
When challenging the norms as part of punk counterculture, some people embraced asymmetry in earrings, wearing them in only one ear at a time or wearing a large earring in one ear and a small, mismatched earring in the other.
While precious metals and gemstones were popular in 1980s jewellery, plastic was another popular material. Costume jewellery was seen as a way to reject consumerism, while wearing multiple pieces was a way to attract attention. Therefore, people often wore a stack of bangle bracelets made of plastic on their arms. Bangles could be either wide and flat or thin and round. The thinner the bangles, the more that could fit on one arm. Wider bangles in bold colours would draw the eye naturally, so fewer bracelets were needed. As a general rule, thin bangles were favoured more by the youth while older, more mature women were more likely to wear wider bangles. However, there were exceptions in both instances. Bangles in precious metals, such as silver and gold, were also popular but more likely to be worn during formal occasions.
Find Vintage Pieces Amongst Our Estate Jewellery Collection
With a wide selection of antique, vintage, and contemporary jewellery, Colonial Acres Coins is sure to have the style you are looking for. View our selection online or come to our Kitchener location.