How to Build Your Jewelry Collection

Merriwether McGettigan's shop in San Francisco

Period jewelry lecturer, jewelry designer, gemologist and Red Carpet Bay Area sponsor Meriwether McGettigan shares recommendations for building a jewelry wardrobe:


Start with everyday basics and fill your jewelry box with those staples before buying anything else. Everyday jewelry staples include: a yellow gold or two-tone gold bracelet, a wide cuff or bangles, a single or double strand of South Sea white pearls and either diamond stud earrings, gold and diamond hoops or yellow gold earrings.

Once you accumulate the staples you will always find something in your own collection to wear with jeans, cocktail dresses or even to lunch with the likes of Queen Elizabeth. Upgrading jewelry is an expensive habit so it is important to buy pieces that are of good quality and in size or scale that you will not tire of, or outgrow.

The staples acquired for daytime are proper for cocktail receptions and dressy dinner parties, though you may want to add sparkle to your collection. If you do not own diamond stud earrings, diamond hoop earrings or gold and diamond ear clips these are a good next step. More cocktail basics: bracelets and cuffs with diamonds, an eye-catching cocktail ring, and a versatile yellow gold and white diamond necklace.

Black-Tie Events
A black-tie dinner or fancy ball requires some thought. An invitation to a grand marble ballroom, cotillion ball, Mardi Gras ball or wedding scheduled at 6:00 pm or later means at least a three-quarter length or longer dress, or ball gown. Often a black-tie dinner at home means either a long or short dress unless advised otherwise by your hostess. Consider the venue and dress as appropriate. As for jewelry, McGettigan recommends an impressive necklace, bracelet or a demi parure, period bracelets and earrings with colored stones or diamonds.

To meet Meriwether McGettigan and discuss your collection, stop by or make an appointment at her store, Meriwether, 3524 Sacramento Street in San Francisco.