Why is everyone obsessed with the DIY jewellery of our childhoods?
It's a charmed life
Like knitting, pottery and dyeing our own heads, crafty jewellery reemerged during lockdown last year when people found themselves at home and in need of a creative outlet to pass the time. Stringing together mini letters and braiding multicoloured rope into bracelets were a fun way to keep our hands busy while providing a source of artistic and fashion expression. Fast forward to today, the cute-kitschy trend of DIY jewellery is still going strong.
Just this week, global fashion search platform Lyst reported that the demand for joyful jewels continues to grow as page views for colourful beaded necklaces are up 41 per cent month-on-month. Also rising? Searches for fruit bead chokers and letter bead necklaces, as well as key terms like “handmade” and “custom”.
Everywhere we look, beaded baubles and playful charms in candy-coloured hues pepper our feeds to decorate the bodies of celebrities and micro-influencers to family and friends. Beach beads were spotted during the SS21 season at Versace and Jason Wu, while designer brands like Balenciaga and Bottega have jumped directly onto the bandwagon to give the playful trend a go, albeit with a much heftier price tag.
Given that we’ve spent two summers in a row now under MCO, it’s no surprise that we’re turning towards charm-laden, name-spelling nostalgia to induce a bit of joy and innocence back into our lives. Reminiscent of ‘90s teen style, summer raves and friendship bracelets we used to make as kids, the creative trend indicates a yearning for the carefree days of our youth, back when we were able to run free and without worry under the summer sun.
And like the bright colours and sentimentalism of the Y2K fashion comeback, the fun, child-like aesthetic of DIY jewellery work as mood-boosters to help us counterbalance the stress we've been feeling during turbulent times. It's also been a popular way to support small businesses (regardless of your sex) in the age of conscious consumption and gender fluidity.
Leading the vanguard of this revival are individual artists and under-the-radar brands that have sprouted up across Instagram, Etsy and Depop––though streetwear labels *Evae+ and Salute were one of the earlier contenders who normalised charm jewellery for men in 2019. Their signature smiley beaded necklaces made waves amongst streetwear audiences after it gained the blessing of rapper ASAP Rocky. That same year, BTS’ J-Hope was seen in custom pearl-beaded bracelets and chunky resin rings of Hurjaboy in his ‘Chicken Noodle Soup’ music video. The Korean jewellery designer has since gone on to accessorise other K-pop stars including Red Velvet’s Joy and the entire cohort of NCT Dream with her quirky, handcrafted accessories.
Thenceforth, the DIY accessory craze has found no bounds. Iris Law and Ella Emhoff have both sported New York label beepy bella’s beaded renditions around their necks, whereas the mismatched colours, flowers, glass fruits and shells of Miami brand Eliou have now become a cult favourite worn by the likes of Harry Styles, Dua Lipa as well as Justin and Hailey Bieber. The epitome of Gen Z style, robot influencer Miquela is almost never seen without the kaleidoscopic charmed pieces of @blo_oberry to Dalmata to complete her 'fits. Local creatives Bay Doucet and Seri Mizani on the other hand have also put their own twist to the style by mixing and matching thrifted pieces with bespoke creations found right here in Malaysia.
Refreshed with a designer touch for the current era, the DIY jewellery trend makes for a bold yet unique statement that’s playfully quirky, easy to wear, and one-of-a-kind thanks to their customisability. So why not spice up your WFH outfits by bringing a bit of its cheer-inducing spirit into your wardrobes?
Below, we've rounded up a selection of this season's latest, ranging from pricier pieces à la Bottega Venetta to cult designers everyone is wearing...
...as well as local IG creators who are handcrafting them here at home:
And if none of these styles tickle your fancy, just give it a go yourselves! Pop by a local crafts store or scour the 'net––all you need is a stringing material or chain, as many beads, charms, jewels as you want, and a clasp for completion. Lazy? Veteran jewellery designer Roxanne Assoulin offers a DIY 'Candy' kit that lets you take the reins and TikTok is full of tutorials that vary from going HAM at the art store to teaching you how to DIY-stack your fingers and make beaded pieces for your crocs.