Nineties Jewelry Trends: A Complete List of Items by Style

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1990
90s Jewelry Trends
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Last Updated on January 31, 2022

Jewelry in the 90s was deeply eclectic and it spread like wildfire due to its accessible nature. Literally anyone could wear a plastic tattoo choker or make a shell necklace! 

It also shared some of the most important characteristics of the main fashion trends of the decade.

Mainly, that they were wild and deeply personal, with a costume quality that allowed just everyone to play around with different items and that celebrity style (be it movies, series, or music) was everywhere for the public to gain inspiration from!

Grunge

This style flourished at the beginning of the decade and was quite prominent until 1995. Being grunge was being a part of a movement with a very particular way of seeing the world and wearing it was a way to send a very clear message: that you were against the system, and bent to do your wild free-spirited thing! 

Preferred clothing items were flannel shirts, oversized knit sweaters, droopy skirts, and ripped tights. Cue Courtney Love, wearing her slightly gothic, romantic, and unkept ensembles while adding layers of thin delicate gold necklaces and dainty gold chokers.

Check out this Star Moon Adjustable Necklace:

To get the look: pair animal prints with gold jewelry and throw a babydoll or satin dress into the mix, the combination will feel both stylish and daring. For added effect rip those fishnet tights and add a double gold bracelet! 

Check Out: 23 Styles of Earrings that were soooo … 90s

New Age

As the general style evolved during the decade, it branched out into New Age territory and added energy-related elements, like natural stones and power beaded necklaces. It was a more spiritual take that combined Indian wisdom, the study of the chakras, Reiki and Feng Shui among other things. 

The preferred looks included long skirts, knitted cardigans, and batik tees with layered necklaces, mood rings, and ear cuffs. Gemstones and semi-precious stones were highly prized too!

In her movie Poison Ivy, Drew Barrymore goes for a worn leather jacket with an old long bronzed Irish knot necklace over a purple top. You can get the look easily by adding a long pendant with amethyst and a nice pair of earring studs to a see-through tee and weathered jean shorts combo.

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Read: 90s Female Fashion Icons That Will Never Die

Hip hop

Around 1992, the influence of hip hop music went mainstream and popularized baggy jeans, tracksuits and sportswear that was heavily associated with rappers.

Since the musicians behind these types of music tended to be from various ethnic origins, Latino jewelry pieces like extra-large hoop earrings became all the rage and were worn by a varied range of artists like Beyoncé from Destiny’s Child and Christina Aguilera. 

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Big chunky necklaces, chain necklaces, and word chokers that had originated in rapper wear were adopted by other singers like Gwen Stefani.

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It was a style that was all about being aggressive and badass. It applied industrial and military elements to bolster its tough personas, like camouflage prints and bomber jackets.

To get the daywear look you can go sporty, with baggy pants and an activewear crop top or embrace your inner badass with a long hoodie and military pants, take your pick!

Preppy

The preppy style was all about casual conservative clothing that had a very distinct private-school kind of vibe. Khaki slacks, canvas boat shoes, and blazers with monograms were highly preferred by the wealthy kids wearing them.

Polished shirts in delicate fabrics like organza, tartan pleated mini-skirts in pastel tones, and denim blazers were also among the favorites, especially paired with natural beads necklaces and rubber jelly bracelets.

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A classic example of this trend is what Cher Horowitz wears during Clueless, her whole wardrobe is just perfect! Remember her flower choker with little marguerites?

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The epitome of feminine preppy style and ideal for summer wear! It felt like a breath of fresh air. 

Her counterpart in real life, Paris Hilton, also showcased her fair share of natural stone beads chokers and shell necklaces with her famous Juicy Couture tracksuits.

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Truth be told there are plenty of movies to use as inspiration if you want to copy this style. I don’t mean to name drop, but Mean Girls was a huge classic at that time, and Lindsay Lohan got to wear a bunch of preppy jewelry after her makeover, like an initial necklace and a puka shell necklace.

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Those two make me feel absolutely nostalgic!

A very wearable take on this style if you are not in your teens is to pair a denim blazer with a flower bead choker like Drew Barrymore! Go for a fun hairstyle like parted bangs with little butterfly clippers or space buns! Check out these 25 Photos of ’90s Hairstyles You Secretly Still Love.

If you want to take that look to the next level you might want to add a tattoo plastic choker… A little birdie told me they are making a huge comeback right now! 

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Read: 24 Delightful Preppy Clothing Brands Through the Past 30 Years

Mix and Match Nineties

The general casual style during the 90s mixed a lot of cool elements from orbiting trends, like tartan skirts, fishnets and leather black pants from punk, weathered cardigans and red flannel shirts from grunge, neon colors and glitter from pop and velvet crop tops and long skirts from gothic.

It was an amalgam of cool and unique items that came together and mixed in new and novel ways. 

Gwen Stefani made headlines because of her jewel-like stick-on decorations for the red carpet while using body glitter liquid to enhance her presentation on stage, all the while wearing diamond and crystal-ridden costumes that left no doubt she was the star of the show.

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She was also a huge fan of wearing Indian-inspired clothing, so in case you want to go for it pair up a sarong as a skirt, add some body jewelry, and a shiny anklet, and you are good to go!

Perhaps the most used item by the general public is the choker, both in its velvet gothic style or the plastic tattoo choker. We particularly love this slightly gothic take that Drew Barrymore chose because you can literally pair it with almost anything!

Crop tank top and baggy pants? Check! Velvet shirt and satin skirt, also check!

Another super popular jewelry item of the decade was the metal and leather wristband and the cross bracelet.

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Crosses in general were super popular and the more standardized item of the gothic trend. Be it on a choker, a long necklace, o chain belt, or a wristband. Romantic crosses were everywhere.

90s pop plastic rings

Jewelry in general was very whimsical and colorful during the 90s. There were a ton of styles that looked like you had borrowed Polly Pocket’s shinies, but none so much as the infamous plastic rings.

They were kind of childish, very on the nose, and usually had a flashy quality that really made them pop no matter how outlandish the rest of the outfit was. 

They could also be as inexpensive as being the surprise gift from a cereal box or a serious splurge on a trending brand. Some people even cast them at home in resin, personalizing them to their liking… While others took the easy way out and simply got them at the mall.

Usually, they were made of either resin or plastic, with neon, glittery or gradient hues, plus a ton of different add-ons like resin flowers, gemstones, golden appliques, and more. Themes were as varied as the users: some tended to be baby-inspired with pacifiers or with initials, others were influenced by pop, with lips, random cute elements, or music imagery.

But my absolute favorite ones were the ones that looked like crystals. They were huge (they even got snagged on your clothes sometimes!) but totally worth it. They shone brightly in all their glorious flashiness for everyone to see!

Whatever the case, most kids and teens had at least a pair of these colorful rings. Of course, parents hated them. They were the exact opposite of what they understood as elegant jewelry. They considered it a kind of blasphemy to even call them jewelry, with them looking more like children’s toys.

Power bead bracelets

If I had to choose only one 90s jewelry item as the most iconic item of the decade, it would, without a doubt, be the bead bracelet. It was more than a fad, it was a movement!

The only difference between bead bracelets and friendship bracelets was that the second ones were made exclusively with knots. Bead bracelets symbolized the beginning of friendship and relationships just as well and were also quite symbolic at their end. 

It was not uncommon to throw away your bracelet when a friendship was done or even toss it in anger in the middle of a discussion. “I threw away your bracelet, we are done!” is a phrase that only a true 90s kid will understand.

Bracelets in general also promoted our most mercantile side, setting up a whole side economy of artisanship with many kids learning the craft and going about exploring their entrepreneurial spirit by setting shop on the sidewalks. Of course, there were always lazy ones who weren’t interested in learning and would rather acquire one off the hands of their industrious friends!

All in all, it was a great way to pass the time and accesorize in an inexpensive way. Plus, if you were a maker, you had hours of fun ahead of you. Particularly so if your friends were also interested. Bead exchange was a thing, people!

So, be daring and don’t be afraid to mix and match whatever jewelry you fancy from the varied styles of the 90s to create your perfect look!

Read Next: The Definitive Guide to 90s Fashion Brands

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!