As someone who spent most of their pocket money on mood rings, tattoo necklaces and plastic bangles during the late '90s and early '00s, I'm here to tell you that most of those trends are back thanks to Gen Z. The Y2K trends that have made a comeback among 20-somethings and teens are often nostalgic and sometimes scary for those of us who experienced these trends the first time around. But I think I might be missing the point. After carefully examining the Gen Z jewellery trends currently booming, I realised that they all have one major component in common: joy.
That's right—in the face of quite a weird 18 months, these jewellery trends so loved by the younger generation are actually incredibly fun, which is exactly what we need right now. And I'm more than happy to embrace the nostalgia coming my way. Think the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially Willow and Buffy's preferred jewellery trends; Gabrielle Union-Wade wearing a stretchy plastic necklace and matching bracelet on the red carpet; as well as shows such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Blossom. The pieces are bright, colourful and inexpensive-looking.
Today, these looks are much loved by the likes of Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid as well as some key influencers. Keep scrolling to see some of the original styles, how the A-list is wearing them now, and the five specific styles I've identified as being huge.
Style Notes: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy wears a belly chain and Alyson Hannigan as Willow (left) wears a choker.
Style Notes: Gabrielle Union-Wade wears a classic black tattoo necklace with a matching bracelet.
The top trend that I seem to see everywhere when it comes to Gen Z jewellery? Colour. Whatever form it comes in—necklaces, earrings, rings—there's no escaping that it's all about bright and bold and even Day-Glo hues. Over at jewellery brand Motley, the biggest seller to its Gen Z customer is the Pink Galileo ring. In March, Lyst revealed that "searches that include the word 'beaded' have been rising and are currently up 21% week-on-week. Shoppers are looking in particular for multi-colored beaded necklaces" and "those by Roxanne Assoulin and Wald Berlin are the most viewed. At the same time, searches for 'toy beaded necklace' are also up 14%." Brands such as L.A.-based Ian Charms are the ones to watch for the coolest celeb-loved pieces.
Perhaps a bit of a continuation of the above trend, this one is very close to my heart. As someone who was obsessed with acquiring oversized plastic rings from Camden Market during the late '90s/early '00s thanks to shows like Clarissa Explains It All, I've seen quite a few influencers wearing this look, but my favourite is from Sydney-based Basra Ajeh, who does this now–Gen Z look so well. The New York Times just yesterday revealed how materials such as resin, acrylic and enamel are being favoured over finer materials for jewellery, with Y2K being a huge influence over how we want to accessorise right now.
I do slightly recoil in horror at this trend mostly because it gives me flashbacks to a time when everyone was wearing low-slung jeans (the only way to wear this piece of jewellery properly). But it's clearly back, and there are plenty of brands currently doing a version of it. While I love Lucy Williams's take on it by wearing it with a bikini, I still love the classic Sarah Michelle Gellar take by wearing it over a black top. It's quite chic, actually.
Last year, Lyst revealed that "after Harry Styles was spotted wearing a pearl necklace in December, searches for similar pieces increased 31% and have since continued to drive demand." This look, however, in 2021, is very much part of a wider trend known as the 'coconut girl,' which originated on Gen Z platform TikTok and takes its inspiration from surfer style. So make sure you pair your pearls with a bit of tie-dye too.
If you know anything about Gen Z stars, you know the name Addison Rae. The singer and social media star is a fan of this jewellery trend, which is probably enough to make it go viral. But if you need more on this look, then just know that you can wear it however you want. Whether in a shell or colourful, beaded form, there are plenty of styles.