When I was 13 years old, I inherited a massive glass heart pendant from my great-grandmother. At the time, it felt like I'd been given the Heart of the Ocean from The Titanic, so I treated it with the utmost care. Its fragility was so beautiful to me, and the thought of actually wearing it and breaking it in some clumsy teenagery way felt inevitable. That being said, it sat in its silky case for over a decade. Every so often, I'd peek inside waiting for the "right time" to wear it but never actually put it on.
Fast-forward to now and I've noticed that glass jewellery is set to be a major trend, as quite a few designers across fashion weeks and Instagram are playing with glass materials in their pieces. From Maryam Nassir Zadeh's NYFW show to London fashion favourite Alighieri, it seems as though fashion has returned to the concept of making heirloom fashion jewellery—pieces that demand to be cared for and looked after but are also meant to be worn. Finding this a rather niche style to be trending, I spoke to the founder one of my favourite e-commerce fashion sites, Cat Hocking of Joan, who confirms that she's been interested in these very collections for her new season buys.
Hocking says that what appeals to her about glass when thinking of her jewellery buys "is that as well as being beautiful, [it] is also artisanal and it speaks to the slow fashion sensibility of Joan. It feels like designers are attracted to the versatility of the material and are enjoying experimenting."
It's true. With sustainability being one of the biggest themes in fashion right now, glass feels rather apt. It takes time to make and needs to be cared for, but that's what makes it so beautiful. Watching someone make blown glass is a mesmerising process, and each imperfection is what makes each piece unique.
Just like oversized duvet coats might be trending as a means to cocoon us from the scary aspects of the state of the world, the sense of fragility that comes with wearing a glass piece also feels like a reflection of our current cultural and social climate. Our planet and our political structures both feel at risk, leaving us as people in the feeling, well, rather delicate. I recently bought a beautiful pair of blown glass transparent earrings from a local Toronto brand called Focus Group that the designer told me might break when exposed to different temperatures. Rather than finding it a nuisance, I empathise and wrap them carefully in cloth after each wear. I feel tender in the cool temperatures, so why shouldn't my earrings?
I should say that glass jewellery is actually trending again, as it's really been around and peppered through fashion histories for a very long time. It's been present since Ancient Egypt, through the Middle Ages, and, of course, most famously as Venetian glass, which is thought to have been made for over 1500 years. This year, designer Maryam Nassir Zadeh picked up the threads of that tradition and worked with Italian glassblower Gennaro Pepe, who captures "the spirit of the sea" in his one-of-a-kind creations.
The history of glass jewellery also evokes the golden era of Yves Saint Laurent. Loulou de la Falaise, the designer's muse and fashion accessories designer, often incorporated crystals and glass into her pieces that she designed for the brand, giving them a spot in haute couture and luxury ready-to-wear history.
With glass jewellery having such a rich and diverse history, this means that it is a trend you can also look to vintage to fulfil. Popular Instagram vintage curator Lucia Zolea often features Murano glass pieces in her collections. She often pairs them with cosy knits or sheer fabrics, proving that these delicate pieces work so well with contemporary outfit ideas.
In our chat about contemporary glass jewellery pieces, Hocking also pointed to the versatility of the trend. She told me that she loves "the different expressions of it we see, from it being sculptural and elegant as shown by brands like Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Alexa de la Cruz, or Sandralexandra's more playful take on the material with her delicate fruit pieces." In collecting the pieces for this edit, I completely agree. There are also different shapes, colours and varying degrees of delicateness that glass jewellery comes in. They also work for any occasion (try on over a white tee through to festive parties). Dreamy!
Keep scrolling for my edit of vintage, independent and designer glass jewellery pieces that I absolutely love (and won't be too scared to actually wear this time around).