Tim Gunn's Jewelry Tips

The Project Runway mentor solves all of your style conundrums. This month: jewels, jewels, jewels!Getting ready for a night out? Read Tim Gunn's evening fashion rules.

I love jewelry, and I don't mean the Hope Diamond. My reference is to beautiful, affordable items that enhance your look and supply you with an oomph of glitz and glamour. Think about the items you wear not only as a reflection of your personal taste, but also as a sign, a communication about who you are. My mantra for getting one's style right is Silhouette! Proportion! Fit! This applies to accessories just as much as it does to apparel. The visual relationship between your jewels and your clothes should strike harmony and balance. But while we expect earrings to match, please avoid matching sets, as these are predictable and, frankly, old-fashioned.

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Accuse me of being a fan of Wonder Woman (I am): I love a cuff. A cuff is not for a shrinking violet. It's a bold, graphic statement and one that I find rapturous. If you're wearing slim-fitting long sleeves, then wear the cuff on top of the garment. Furthermore, cuffs can be stacked — two or even three on one arm. It's a fabulous look, but not for the faint of heart. Second on my must-have list are classic bangles. They come in a variety of widths — paper-clip-thin bangles are an opportunity for stacking a dozen.


Most people should have three rings in their vocabulary: engagement, wedding, and fashion. The first two are a matter of taste and budget. The third is about fun. Like the cuff, a fashion ring should be bold and make a statement. It should also be honest about what it is — in other words, it shouldn't pretend to be Empress Alexandra's 60-carat cocktail ring. Flaunt the fakeness! Celebrate the frivolity!


Necklace style selections should be based entirely upon the neckline of your garment. Admittedly, it's tricky, but I have a few suggestions. Higher necklines — crew, turtleneck — work best with an opera length (26 to 36 inches), which offers versatility as a single strand, a double, or knotted. Plunging necklines are best served by a princess length (17 to 19 inches). Strapless calls for a choker or princess style. And halters or one-shoulders call for nothing. In the case of the latter, let your earrings provide the bling.


Watch preferences are personal. I know people who like them to be oversize, while others like them to be mere wisps that almost require a magnifying glass to read the face. Personally, I find large, chunky watches to be limiting — they're not right for a cocktail party. If you're interested in a day-to-night transition piece, then go with something smaller and dressier. I don't know anyone who has ever said, 'That watch is too much for the office!'


The easiest, most universally wearable earring is the stud. But be cautious about scale: Studs are just that — studs. The circumference should be no greater than ¼ inch. If you're thinking of an investment, then I vote for pearls over diamonds, because you'll find quality for about 75 percent less cost. Real pearls possess a great wow! factor, while few things are sadder than a single microscopic diamond.