How your jewellery is secretly ageing you

It used to be the case that you could tell a woman’s age by her shoes. Now that everyone wears Veja trainers or Birkenstocks all the time, it’s not quite that simple. Jewellery, however, is another story. At a recent family wedding, my 60-year-old aunt wore a Vampire’s Wife mini dress, while floral tea dresses were worn by 30-somethings and septuagenarians alike. But what really set the generations apart was their jewellery. Gen Z cousins stacked every finger and thumb with silver, my millennial sisters and friends layered up their fine yellow-gold chains, and the 50-plus contingent wore ropes of pearls or chandelier earrings. 

More than handbags or coats or shoes, jewellery can be a marker of maturity. As stylishly bejewelled women (who may well have a personal stylist to hand) know, simple swaps can take years off your look.

The Goop glow is not Gwyneth Paltrow’s only age-defying weapon. The 49-year-old has mastered the #neckmess: an artful arrangement of gold chains and necklaces that’s an elevated update on the gold pendants of a decade ago. Where once it was all about a single charm on a dainty chain – there’s barely a 40-something alive who didn’t covet Alex Monroe’s Bee Necklace – now the neck is a heaving mass of gold chains, beads, initials, zodiac signs and symbols, with the odd diamond necklace thrown in for good measure. Paltrow pairs her neckmess with everything from Grecian-inspired gowns to T-shirts and bikinis. A ubiquitous look amongst 20- and 30-somethings, the neckmess is also beloved by J-Lo, Sarah Jessica Parker and Eva Longoria. When 47-year-old Longoria wore a white suit at the Taormina Film Festival in June, she heaped her arms and neck with gold chains galore. 

The thing is, jewellery is more than mere accessory. It carries huge

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