How To Choose Your Jewellery Like A French Woman

Choose Your Jewellery Like A French Woman

There are days when I feel like I’m a bit of a stalker.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not following people home or setting myself up outside their workplaces, binoculars in hand. But I do engage in an awful lot of people watching.

On our most recent trip to France, I set myself the assignment of confirming what I’d read about the French woman’s jewellery choices.

You see, everything I’d researched about French women’s jewellery pointed to the fact that it was usually delicate, understated and low key. And my latest round of people watching confirmed that this is indeed the case.

No matter where we travelled in France, I really didn’t see an abundance of what I would describe as dramatic, creative or costume jewellery. But I did see plenty of delicate chains and small stud earrings, together with classic watches. Interestingly, silver bangles were also prevalent – but only when all other accessories were silver. I didn’t witness much in the way of mixed metals.

A review of the jewellery counters in the ‘Grands Magasins’ also supported the argument that delicately crafted items are popular in France. Case after case of dainty rings, bracelets and chains sealed the deal.

When you think about it, this French affinity with fine, light jewellery makes sense. This style of jewellery complements their often slender body shapes and bone structure. And it fits perfectly with their refined signature style, which regularly includes a scarf. A scarf almost instantly eliminates the need for statement necklaces and earrings.

Now I’m going to call it out. This look is not going to be for everyone. Some would find it just plain boring to wear this look day-in, day-out. Equally, many women love bold, colourful accessories and a dramatic necklace or earrings can really take an outfit to another level. But if you are keen to choose your jewellery with the confidence and style of a French woman – then read on.

How To Choose Your Jewellery Like A French Woman

  • Make a decision between yellow gold, rose gold or white gold/silver. You may decide based on personal preference or perhaps you would prefer to consider your skin tone in making your choice. In general, the ‘golds’ complement warm skin tones, while the ‘silvers’ suit those with cooler toned colouring.
  • Consider your bone structure. For example, if you happen to be petite, you might choose particularly fine pieces. Those of us who are bigger boned have the option to go for more substantial pieces.
  • Don’t be afraid to select jewellery with personality. Wearing delicate jewellery doesn’t have to be boring. Precious and semi-precious stones add colour and charms or metal work can contribute movement.
  • Opt for studs when it comes to earrings. Think pearls or diamonds (real or faux). Or perhaps go with interesting shapes. Just keep their size in line with the delicacy of the rest of your jewellery.
  • Choose pieces that you really love. Given how regularly you will be wearing this jewellery, it really helps to adore it. You are better to wait and find the perfect piece for you rather than picking up something that is ‘just OK’.
  • Don’t be tricked into thinking that ‘fine’ jewellery has to be mega expensive. There are many affordable pieces out there when you keep an open mind and you are prepared to go looking.

Are you – like French women – a fan of delicate jewellery? Perhaps you prefer something more striking. Or maybe you are like one incredibly stylish woman in my life who manages to beautifully combine delicate gold jewellery with bold necklaces. Either way, I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

P.S. For more French style jewellery tips, make sure you check out this post.

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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13 thoughts on “How To Choose Your Jewellery Like A French Woman

  • Taste of France

    Most of my French friends have a delicate gold chain with a tiny pendant that they wear all the time. Some wear two or three. I think it goes back to the tradition here of giving a necklace with a medal to a newborn. These aren’t medals, but they seem to be worn all the time, like wedding rings.
    That said, they will sometimes layer big, bold costume jewelry over it. Mostly, they are wearing the gold chain, but it doesn’t show, and they have big jewelry with it. I see plenty of chunky, Iris Apfel-style jewelry, but among my French friends, it’s for occasions or making a statement–the exception that proves the rule.

    • Janelle Post author

      I love the insights you share Catherine. The gold chain example not only explains why the look is so common but also why I saw stacks of pint sized chains/bracelets for babies in the department stores!!! Thank you!

  • Lori

    Having been a “queen size” woman most of my adult life I regularly opted for big &’bold in size, style and color. Once I dropped more than half my weight, those pieces felt out of balance. And there I found the answer; balance. A very simple black turtleneck with black jeans could easily carry a more bold necklace. Whereas a LBD Needed only a single diamond on a white gold chain and diamond studs, or a single strand of good pearls and pearl studs. Balance has become my watch word in fashion. And it hasn’t lead me astray yet.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much for sharing Lori. I think that balance is an excellent watch word for many parts of life – but you are so right about applying it to jewellery.

  • Alisa

    Janelle, I love so much that you hone in on and identify details that could pass by someone less observant. I bought a ring in Paris this summer – and was surprised by the delicateness of virtually all the jewelry in the shop. In the window was a small display of beautiful and delicate rings with assorted very small stones, clearly one of a kind pieces. I went in to choose one to use as a stacking ring with another small garnet ring that I wear regularly (it is a family piece) and the jeweler was surprised that I would not wear the little ring alone. To my American eyes, it looked as though it needed something more. To her French eyes, it was perfect by itself. Thinking back after reading your post, I suddenly realize that I “saw” very little jewelry in Paris, or very little that caught my attention – it is unobtrusive for the most part, just as you say. Good catch!

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you for such a lovely comment Alisa – I really appreciate it. It’s interesting what our eyes become accustomed to isn’t it? In Australia, our jewellery tends to be more robust too…I’m looking down at my stacked rings as I type! I’m sure though that your little French ring is very beautiful in its own right and will always hold precious memories of your time in Paris.

  • Shirley

    This was a great insight for me as I expand my online shop I do get some search views from France but was wondering what their tastes really are so thought i would investigate. I make a variety of styles and sizes in line with current trends and preferences. I don’t currently have many delicate necklaces but have previously sold many, my larger necklaces seem to doing well at the moment,perhaps the choker trend has taken over! Thanks for your great blog article!

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks for your comment Shirley. While the French appear to favour delicate jewellery, buying decisions are driven by many factors including body shape and personal taste. I just had a look at your site and imagine your designs appeal to many!

  • Cat Cherry

    What a superb and succinct summary of my own “people watching” observations. I myself am a jewellery designer/seller who moved to France just over a year ago. I have a pop up jewellery stall with a wide variety of stock, ranging from sterling silver, silver+gemstone, stainless steel, leather, steampunk, diamontés, etc.
    Now I’m all legal and legit here, I am starting to prepare my stock for sale here, as well as at events in England still. As such I am very mindful of seeing what will sell over here. I’m an avid fan of dressing to your size, being a larger framed lady myself, I understand that fine jewellery gets lost, so see each of my customers as an individual. My opinion is that finer would sell better here and that gold will sell better than silver. Only time will tell.

    • Janelle Post author

      I love the fact that you are expanding your business across borders – congratulations. And I hope that one day you will let me know if ‘finer and gold’ are in fact more popular. You are so right about needing to choose jewellery that suits the individual. It really is the path to confident style.