For a long time people have mostly been making fun of ’80s fashion, not venerating it or citing it as inspiration for runway collections (the ’90s, comparatively, have gotten a lot of sartorial love recently). That’s changing, ladies. Just last month, Mario Testino told Taylor Swift, regarding her current fascination with the decade, “When I went through the ’80s, I thought it was so ugly. When I look back now, I think how interesting because sometimes from ugliness comes a lot of beauty.” It seems like the shopping public would agree with Mario, per new reports that ’80s-era jewelry is selling way higher at auction than anticipated.
“All the signs that this is going to be super hot” are happening, director of U.S. jewelry at Bonhams Susan Abeles told the Financial Times. Understanding why consumers want what they want isn’t an exact science, but the experts point to the trend cycle. “You always need about 20 to 25 years for an item to become vintage,” Daniela Mascetti, Sotheby’s senior international jewelry specialist, explained. Prestige auction houses are watching prices and demand for pieces skyrocket; compared with 2010, similar pieces are now, on average, getting 70 percent higher than their lowest estimated price. From there, it’s basic logic that we’re all in for a bit of ’80s fever.
“Jewels that [a brand like] Bulgari designed were to go from the boardroom to the ballroom, and that’s why they’re becoming fashionable now,” Mascetti said. “You can perhaps wear them in a more relaxed way than you would a huge Harry Winston diamond necklace.” [Editor’s note: I’d wear that Harry Winston necklace any time, all the time.]
Let’s clarify: My ’80s jewelry was a slap bracelet and stick-on earrings, but those aren’t primed to be in such high demand. Instead, it’s the sort of items Mom probably has in her jewelry box, namely gold pieces with gems (real or faux), and the necklaces are shorter, hitting just below the collarbone.
I’m fascinated to know that there’s a proven trend toward ’80s pieces, especially at the sky-high prices these gems command (along with buyers, companies are bidding to add pieces to their archives).