The question really is, why not? Think of it this way, you’re a little more grown-up now — so it follows that the accessories you wear would reflect a more sophisticated taste, something that elevates your everyday look without compromising on quality. Perfect then, because that’s where demi-fine jewellery shines.
A quick refresher: ‘demi-fine’, a term more commonly heard in recent years, refers to a category of jewellery that sits between ‘fine’ and ‘costume’ jewellery. ‘Fine’ refers to one-of-a kind pieces made with precious metals, stones and gems, which usually fetch five-figure sums; on the other hand, ‘costume’, or fashion jewellery, makes use of alloys and man-made crystals such as cubic zirconia, that while usually trendy, account for a much lower price point.
The difference with demi-fine jewellery then, is that they represent the best of both worlds: affordable luxury, they say. A step above fashion jewellery, we’re talking about trendy, modern pieces that are easy to style on the daily, made with high-end craftsmanship and quality that lasts — while still at reasonable prices.
How does it do that? Well, we know that gold is expensive, yes, and the higher the ratio of gold used in jewellery is — measured in karats (k or ct) — then the higher the price of an item will be. To work around that, demi-fine jewellery usually sees pieces made in 14k gold, 925 sterling silver, corrosion-resistant rhodium, or most commonly gold vermeil, high-quality silver that’s gold-plated with 14k – 24k gold of at least 0.5 microns thick (and thankfully, many brands surpass this basic criteria). All these materials are frankly durable enough, and add to the long-lasting quality of your jewellery.
Demi-fine pieces also combine precious and semi-precious stones such as rose quartz, amethyst, turquoise and more, whenever a fun pop of colour is needed. Most of the jewellery starts from around $100 for a ring or charm, and average at a couple of hundred bucks, with only some pieces exceeding $1k.
Personally, demi-fine jewellery has been a bit of a discovery for me too. I still love my $1.20 TaoBao earrings mind you, and I love to accessorise, but I’ve also been thinking of investing in timeless, effortless pieces that’ll retain their original lustre. If you’re on the same page about expanding your jewellery collection, look ahead for some my favourite modern silhouettes. These are the brands I’ll be adding to my cart very, very soon.
Cult following? Duh. It’s easy to see why given just a brief glance at Catbird’s body of work — after all, this Brooklyn-based brand made stacking rings, with midi styles and understatedly dainty designs, cool again. Full disclosure: we’ve long been tempted by their delicate styles, crafted with the finest of chains, and just the right sparkle to excite a discerning eye. A hint of gold on your ear here, or a sliver of metal there does the trick, especially when you consider those Kitten Mitten bracelets, which wrap around your wrist and finger for that bit of casual luxe.
Featured: Catbird Kitten Mitten 14-karat Gold Bracelet ; Dewdrop Bracelet ; Chained To My Heart Necklace ; Chain To My Heart Earring
Each piece is made in their Brooklyn studio, with recycled or fair-trade gold and conflict-free stones on their 14ct gold styles that can be worn daily. Also interesting is their concept of “permanent” jewellery, where the brand’s jewellers will weld — or in their words, “zap” — custom-fitted clasp-less chain bracelets onto your wrist. We think that speaks quite boldly about their design ethos: sparking joy, while still being unfussy and enviably low-key.
There’s a surprising weightlessness to WWAKE’s designs, which you’ll realise, happens only because of a thoughtful consideration of elements — shape, balance, and scale. New York-based Wing Yau has been recognised, and quite suitably honoured, for her craft, which often fuses sculpture and jewellery design, thanks to her background in both. This translates to subtle silhouettes defined by their organic contours, and stone arrangements of opal, moonstone, sapphire, and white conflict-free diamonds that lightly graze your shoulders and earlobes. Most recently, you’ve got the Weaving Collection, where freshwater pearls are used ingeniously, strung together and reminiscent of textiles by feminist artist Sheila Hicks.
Featured: WWAKE Cloudburst Gold Pearl Earring ; Linear Chain Necklace ; Mini Three-Step Ring ; WWAKE 14-karat Gold, Pearl And Opal Earrings
“Our customers are drawn to what we consider “understated statements”: little bits of luxury that can be worn every day, and then passed down for generations. Subtle design is key to making the jewellery feel personal, rather than ostentatious — these women are buying the jewellery to reward themselves, after all, not to impress anyone else,” says Yau. We couldn’t agree more. If you’d like to stand by good thoughtful design, crafted with quality materials, WWAKE is a good place to start.
Sarah & Sebastian
Your love for the brand may start the moment you set eyes on those Net Earrings. We know ours did. Sophisticated, alluring, yet unique, Sarah & Sebastian’s design process is something to behold, because what do you know, the rest of their pieces are just as evocative. The Sydney-based studio is run by Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki, with the duo often taking inspiration from the ocean, the Great Barrier Reef, and more.
Handcrafted in Australia, there’s also an element of traditional craftsmanship in their art. Lost-wax casting, a unique method of casting metal using wax molds, is often used — this allows them to capture intricate details on jewellery, including the imprints of shells from Sarah’s personal collection on 10ct gold pendants.
Featured: Sarah & Sebastian Enmesh Chain ; Large Net Ring ; Wave Pearl Ring ; Loose Rope Hoops
It’s that bit of personal connection that pushes the brand to more intimate territory. Take the SIREN collection. At once a study of the ocean’s wonders, and a reminder of the destruction caused to reefs and marine life by abandoned fishing debris, the series entangles those concepts by casting jewellery using actual ghost nets salvaged from the Pacific Ocean, or shells and shark teeth found diving. These now take the shape of handmade pendants on tangled mixed metal chains, or stunning net or woven rope designs that appeal to the core of our emotions.
Now, this one you should be familiar with. Monica Vinader, formally a British bespoke jeweller, started her namesake brand with one clear purpose — to bridge the gap between fashion and fine jewellery, giving the rest of us opportunity to appreciate their wearable, contemporary designs. They’ve also brought jewellery and ring stacking to mainstream consciousness, and come on, we can’t even remember a time when this wasn’t a thing!
Featured: Monica Vinader Fiji Tiny Button Diamond Necklace ; Fiji Tiny Button Diamond Cuff ; Fiji Bud Gemstone Pendant Charm (blue lace agate) ; Huggie diamond Earrings
Understated yet classy in its minimalism, the brand appeals to discerning, modern-day women who can’t seem to get enough of its versatility. Particularly, those smooth, organic shapes give us something to covet. The Fiji line is one shining example. You’re looking at pavé diamond pieces in perfect circles, and more recently, arranged in the shape of adorable Buds and Tiny Buttons — you’ll still be dripping in diamonds, minus the astronomical cost. The necklaces, cuffs and earrings are hand-set in three classic finishes of Sterling Silver, 18ct Gold Vermeil and 18ct Rose Gold Vermeil. So you see, plenty of options for your soon-to-be wardrobe staple.
Each of the stunning photographs in Alighieri’s lookbook is caught on film, which hints at the nature of the London brand, started in 2014. Not hipster mind you, we’re thinking visceral, raw, unfiltered, capturing a moment in time. When put that way, it’ll help frame the artistic sense to Rosh Mahtani’s designs, where each piece is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and his 100 poems that take you through the realms of Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. That literature is then, inexplicably but profoundly translated into her imperfect jewellery.
Featured: Alighieri Selva Oscura Choker ; Selva Oscura Earrings ; X Chrome Amore ; Apollo’s Story Earrings
That they’re slightly battered, a little used-looking, says nothing about how exquisite these pieces are. It could be the Selva Oscura Choker, handcrafted from 24ct gold plated bronze, which tells the tale of getting lost in a dark place while still wearing each woven link like armour. Or, gold-plated sterling silver and freshwater pearl earrings, made cooler because you know its origins as a study of tears and the cathartic role of water. These elevate the perhaps sometimes routine experience of jewellery-wearing to something more meaningful.
Shop at alighieri.co.uk.
There’s something fun yet old-school about Loren Stewart’s approach to jewellery, and we only found out why after delving into the brand’s early beginnings. Loren Stewart and co-founder Rachel Loren started off upcycling vintage jewellery that they’ve always dreamed of owning, which then evolved into a downtown L.A. studio right beside the historic Jewelry District. That they’re located at the heart of Los Angeles gives insight to the brand’s eclectic style too — the handcrafted jewellery sees vintage silhouettes and retro motifs, whether it’s chunky translucent beads made of Blue Chaledony Stones, or precious & semi-precious gems on their multi-faceted rings.
Featured: Loren Stewart Pearl And Quartz Necklace ; Herringbone Gold Necklace ; Nina Pearl Hoop Earrings ; Opal Teardrop Ring
Just as well, the recent Paradiso collection comes inspired by Ibiza, which leads to bright and bold pieces, in pastel hues and stone beads that are reminiscent of 80s parties. Then again, they still bring in some of the signature elements of their early designs. Safety pin details, curb chains and chain links, done elegantly, now mixed up with seed pearls in a choker design; or a fluid herringbone necklace that graces your neck for a subtle shine whenever there’s movement. All their pieces are crafted from 10ct and 14ct gold or sterling silver, so quality’s assured too.
Contemporary yet refreshing, Maria Black infuses her eponymous jewellery brand with plenty of personal style and sculptural shapes in these pared-back, modern silhouettes, so of course we’d want all of them. The Copenhagen brand makes wavy lines and creative swirls come to life in sterling silver and high-polished gold, sometimes studding these with pastel glass tones or amethyst, believed to regenerate any weakened energy. Put them on, and immediately, any plain outfit would look infinitely more interesting and thoughtful. Call it cheating if you will, but we don’t mind.
Featured: maria black Giotto Necklace ; Porto Bracelet ; Anita Earring ; Nuvola Earring
“I want to create jewellery designs that resonate. My design philosophy is to constantly evolve, and the pieces I create must prove their rightful place in this madness,” she says. That ‘rightful place’, according to the Maria Black philosophy, doesn’t even have to be something prescribed — the brand, and Black herself, are huge fans of ditching the roles in favour of individual exploration. Whether it’s boys in pearl earrings, or women who want to go big on style, you’ll find something of yourself here.
Shop at maria-black.com.
KIN gets honest about affordable luxury, and they’re not shy to say that their pieces — which consist of 14k or 18k Gold Vermeil, and Rhodium jewellery over 925 Sterling Silver — are pocket-friendly. Which is all good when you can deliver on the style and sophistication, and they confidently do so. A Malaysian brand created in 2018 by two friends, Athiya and Zaireen, you’ll find that a lot of their hoops, link necklaces and charms combine just the right amount of elegance with a sense of edge, especially when they can be so easily mixed, matched, and stacked for a statement look.
Featured: KIN 2″ Ava Hoops ; Paved Round Charm ; Large Rolo Chain ; Triangle Charm
That they are meant to be everyday and hassle-free, and can be worn as much as possible in our busy lives, plus made to match anything we throw in, is just divine, really. If you’re a minimalist kinda person, opt for the clean-cut and classic hoop earrings in various sizes and designs, which we think are no-brainers when it comes to elevating your outfit. We’ll end off with this power statement of theirs: for those who know how to cut the fluff, get sh*t done, and look damn good doing it.
Shop at jewellerybykin.com.
Here are some of our favourite gentle-on-our-wallet brands who are embracing the superior quality of demi-fine jewellery too, with dedicated lines made of better quality materials and techniques.
Wanderlust & Co.
Wanderlust & Co.’s designs always capture the perfect amount of whimsical and dreamy, no thanks to how founder Jenn Low happens to be an avid traveller, and while we consider their regular 14k – 18k gold and rhodium-plated jewellery already of decent quality, they’ve taken things up a notch with this demi-fine collection. Here, their bestsellers are reinterpreted into everyday wear, with this difference: each piece is consciously crafted by a select group of five artisans, made with 925 sterling silver bases and 2.5 microns thick 14k gold plating. Along with semi-precious gemstones and an e-coating for extra lustre — not forgetting the beautiful, feminine designs — we can see irresistible they can be.
The Ordinary Co
This local brand’s ubiquitous appeal among millennials, thanks to affordable pieces that happen to be very trendy, often see us carting out more than we intend to. Oops. That said, founder Monica Lie recognises our need for lasting jewellery, which led to A Little Less, The Ordinary Co’s demi-fine jewellery line, which puts together 18k gold vermeil, 925 silver, and freshwater pearls into these timeless, minimal designs. The pared-back designs speak to their versatility and even conscious dressing, since you can truly go day-to-day repeating these pieces as often as you want. Real quality and value-for-money? That’s not ordinary at all.