You've pored through prom magazines, hit all the hot shops and finally selected the perfect prom dress. Your shoes are gorgeous. Your date is too. You know how you'll wear your hair and makeup, and you've booked your limo and decided which after-party to attend. But have you thought about your prom jewelry? If you're like many girls, the answer is probably no.

Why is prom jewelry an afterthought for so many? Even prom checklists published in major magazines rarely include jewelry in their 'To Do' timelines. Strange, because jewelry can make or break your look. Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's: Holly Golightly would have looked decidedly naked without her beautiful multi-strand pearl necklace!

When choosing the perfect prom jewelry, which, ideally, you should do weeks before your big night, there are a few things to consider. First, what style is your dress? Second, how will you wear your hair? And third, what's your personal style? Finally, you'll need to work within a budget that makes sense (unless you've been saving your babysitting money since you were 11).

Your Prom Dress This year's prom dresses are all about vibrant colors--bold silvery metallics and jewel tones are everywhere, and designers have shown them off dramatically on two key dress styles: the strapless and the plunging neckline. Your jewelry choice is clear here: Bold pieces are the only way to carry bold dresses. Think chandelier earrings, oversize cocktail rings, and wide cuff bracelets. One exception: Delicate pendants are hot right now, and they can work with a bold style if you pair them with dramatic earrings or a big bracelet in a similar style. For example, a lavender pearl pendant set with white gold will look stunning with a lavender or white gold cuff.

Keep things simple and keep in mind that you should choose pieces that will complement your look. For example, if you're wearing a simple strapless sheath in a bold color, you want to accessorize with a bold piece of jewelry. But don't overwhelm your look with jewelry in the same color as your dress--that's too much of a good thing. Pick one or two standout pieces--both diamond jewelry and pearl jewelry will look stunning against jewel tones or metallics--such as chandelier earrings and a cocktail ring, or earrings and a cuff. Don't do a bold necklace and chandelier earrings, however; that's too much bling too close together.

Of course, you might choose to go with a soft and romantic dress instead of the season's bold styles. In that case, stick to classic jewelry like pearls, diamonds and yellow gold. Consider wearing several styles for a modern look. Layer long, thin gold chain necklaces with shorter pearl strands, or wrap multiple pearl strands and gold chains around your wrist. These options are gorgeous and fresh.

Your Prom Hairstyle If your hair is short or you'll be wearing an updo, the sky's the limit as far as prom earrings go. You can do a dainty stud--pearl studs and diamond studs always look classic--delicate hoops, or a long chandelier-style earring. Remember, if you choose a chandelier earring, keep your necklace simple, or don't wear one at all. If you choose studs or small hoops you can get away with a big bold necklace, like gobstopper size faux pearls or big, chunky gemstones, or you can try the layered look. If your hair is long and you'll be wearing it down, chandelier earrings are your best bet--it's the only style people will actually see, and, luckily, as you've learned, chandelier earrings are all the rage this year. Just keep flowers and other adornments out of your hair so you won't overwhelm your look. Remember, less is more!

Your Personal Style If your style is more goth than Vogue, for Pete's sake don't get talked into wearing your grandmother's dainty pearl necklace, your mother's diamond pendant, or something that just isn't you. After all, this is your big night, and you'll have the pictures forever to remind you. Stay true to who you are and you'll look and feel like a prom queen no matter how the voting goes.


Go Shopping Now that you've examined your dress, your hair and your personal style and decided on the prom jewelry that will best accessorize your look, it's time to go shopping. You can always hit the mall, but your best bet is to go online (unless you can raid your mother's or sister's jewelry box). Sites that allow you to comparison shop will let you find the pieces you love that fit into your budget. Or you can use a search engine to return multiple sites that have, say, pearl stud earrings and narrow it down by color, price, etc. Shopping online allows you to view {a target="_new" href="http://"}pearl prom jewelry such as pearl pendants, chandelier earrings, cuff bracelets and the like in just about every price bracket. It also saves time. One caveat: Only purchase jewelry from trusted stores--sites that clearly post their phone number and address and have a Verisign or other secure shopping logo. Before you buy, also check out return policies in case something is wrong with the jewelry or you just don't like it. Many sites offer free shipping, too, which is a plus. Make sure you order in time for prom.

Last point to keep in mind when you're buying prom jewelry: Unlike your prom dress or dyed shoes, jewelry is something you will wear throughout your life and maybe even pass down to a daughter or granddaughter. So if you splurge a bit on, say, a classic piece such as a white pearl necklace, don't worry, you will definitely have countless opportunities to wear it throughout your life. Don't overspend on trendy pieces, though. They're not worth the investment. A big faux emerald cocktail ring probably won't be in fashion forever, but good quality classic pearl pendant or pair of diamond studs will stand the test of time.

About the Author:

A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America's Graduate Pearls program, Amy Drescher is a fashion writer and accessories buyer for She welcomes your questions. Reach her at for personal recommendations.

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