When looking for a new piece of jewelry at this price point, the search narrows to modest materials: thread of various weights, wood, glass, resins; recycled materials like paper, rubber, shells or coins. In this world, an eye for colour and design are almost alchemic. In inexperienced hands, humble materials look like a 5th grade art project, but a skilled artisan can lift them to Picasso-like exhilaration.
Today's windows feature pendant necklaces, each of which cost less than $50—and each are wearable, current pieces that would look wonderful with jeans or pants and a tee shirt.
I love pendants because unlike earrings, you can see them on yourself, and you're not spending twice for the materials. Pendants also accommodate materials such as paper or clay, which are not sturdy enough for rings, and most are lightweight to wear.
A captivating and original necklace made from coloured pencils, by Etsy seller carbikova; price, $35 including the neckwire. (Other sizes and shapes available on the site.)
Antique 1890s copper token necklace, with willow tree on the font and lucky horseshoe on the back; available on copper chain or cord from Etsy seller FindsandFarthings; price, $27.
Semi-precious stones are within reach; I searched through hundreds of awkward wire-wraps to find good setting. Here is a luscious blue-green apatite that is not lumped up with wrapping, on a pretty chain (sold separately, various lengths and finishes).
The 20-30mm pendant is $26 from MoonTideJewellery. She has a number of simple gemstone pendants good for layering and specifies that, should you order a chain with your piece, the setting will match.
Resins make excellent choices because of the colour possibilities, and I especially like them when they showcase natural elements, like the serene, faceted dandelion-seed pendant by RaliJewellery; price, $16.55.
The world of fused or art glass deserves its own post, but in short, it's littered with vibrant but often unsophisticated pieces. Some glass artists stand out, such as LindsaysDesigns, a Texan who makes the funky, retro bullseye pendant. Price, $30 (chain sold separately).
Should you wish to revive a favourite outfit with a new pendant, a $30-$40 expense might be managed by cutting out a couple cups of specialty coffee drinks per week (or all right, glasses of wine) over a month—a pretty good trade-off.
A good winter project is to set aside anything unworn for several years, and ask yourself why it no longer sings. My friend Christine uses a smart variation: she places pieces on a tray in her bedroom, because, "Out of sight, out of wear". That way, if you still don't reach for it over a few months, the decision is easy.
Another woman may love it—a friend, or via donation, someone unknown. In October, I saw the long, chunky black glass necklace I had donated swinging happily on young passer-by who seemed to have no trouble supporting its weight. So much better gleaming in the sunlight, than in a dusty tangle in my dresser drawer!