Jewelry frequently signifies an important moment in one’s life: engagement, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are all popular times to give and receive meaningful wearables, but what about those times in between?
That’s why we’ve compiled this list of incredible independent jewelry designers and some of their best pieces. The items found below are pure wearable art, meant to be purchased with the intent of giving yourself something special for no other reason than giving you the feeling of, “I deserve this.” After all, you’ve survived 2020 so far, so you in fact do deserve something to commemorate that feat alone.
Whether it’s a bold, powerful statement like that made with the Nyxturna necklace or a casual and dainty accent like the raw diamond bands below, snatch up a special piece of jewelry for the special occasion of remembering to love yourself, and carry that energy with you whenever you wear it.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Super Smalls is a genius brand that elevates children’s playtime jewelry to look like something modeled after the fine pieces we wear as adults these days. Anyone who coveted a 25 cent vending machine ring or the adjustable plastic birthstones in those foam displays at book fairs knows how much nostalgia this line brings back.
That’s why we’re in love with this “Mommy & Me” lock and key set that lets your little one feel special as can be while twinning with Mom’s cool and classy locket for a closeness that last throughout the school or work day. Buy them for a birthday, holiday, or just a special girls’ day out to give your daughter something she can cherish now and forever.
Catbird is a New York mainstay when it comes to extraordinary, meaningful pieces to add to your collection. Their designs are truly iconic, ranging from delicate, off-kilter gemstone designs to this bold, unisex signet ring that pays homage to an alechmical illustration of the ouroborous and spells out “Hen To Pan,” which translates to “one is the all.” Those who prefer their statement jewelry less gendered will appreciate the intensely wearable construction and, at under $300, this piece is a wonderful way to own part of a jewelry institution’s famed collection at a very reasonable price. Pick up one for yourself, or gift the person in your life who loves luxury but is reticent to treat themselves.
Our next brand is Lausanne, a brand new line of highly wearable, “demi-fine” gold vermeil and silver jewelry that combines interesting and refreshing architectural shapes with shine and sophistication for a modern yet timeless design. Founder Lausanne Miller tells us:
“As a consumer myself I really felt a void in the market for modern, unique jewelry that would live beyond trend, hold up in beautiful quality, but not break the bank. That's really my driving force to deliver and why I'm working solely in high quality vermeil… Every style is designed to represent a balance between strength and grace or femininity. Something I think most women can relate to.”
Her affordable yet dazzling debut collection is up now and features cuff earrings, lock link necklaces, and our favorite, the Orbit Chandelier earrings seen here. Browse the collection for a distinctive trinket to liven up your jewelry wardrobe.
We’re living in the era of self-love, and nothing says you care about yourself like a stunning right hand ring. True Curated Designs, the brainchild of independent jewelry designer Tori Dundas, started as a place to come for your custom engagement rings but quickly morphed into a place where Tori creates all sorts of gorgeous baubles, many of which she says are custom right-hand rings commissioned by the wearers themselves.
“The modern world has ushered in a new class of women who aren't afraid of defining their own lives and leading with self-love first and foremost,” Tori tells us of this particular ring, a 2.5 carat Pink Tourmaline nestled delicately in 14k gold with a hidden halo of diamonds surrounding the center stone. “The True Love right hand ring is designed locally to celebrate the love that comes from within.”
This stunner is just one of many breathtaking designs to be found on the site, and Tori adds of the pieces: “I am so grateful people are putting their trust in my taste and knowledge. I love what I do because my purpose is getting to help create these symbols for the most significant moments in people's lives!”
Souvenir Jewelry is a Philadelphia-based brand that creates pieces for people whose tastes are bold and a little rough around the edges. Chunky silver pieces (though nearly anything comes in goldtone and rose gold as well, plus all metals are nickel-free!) carry phrases like “Not Yours,” “Total Babe,” and countless stackable rings with various words that work in combination, but something about the “Ugh” Sweetheart necklace is intensely relatable for those days when you just don’t want to hear it.
The three-letter word is etched expertly into a silver conversation heart in that iconic lettering we all know from the Valentine’s Day candy, and a bar and link chain toughens up the overall look. Perfect for layering or as a bold statement on its own, this necklace is the perfect item to grab when you start your Souvenir collection.
Cecilia Taibo Rahban, originally from Uraguay but a longtime Los Angeles resident, is the founder and CEO of Cecilia's Steel which she describes as an “independent jewelry brand in LA that celebrates femininity and strength.” The trademarked Steel Pearl seen on this dazzling bracelet is Cecilia’s signature design.
It was "introduced at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach as part of the Women's Day Festival: Empowerment through the Arts, then featured along with My Art Story at the National Endowment for the Arts website,” she tells us, adding that the piece has been showcased in several local and international exhibits from the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art to Moda Arte Design Gallery Milano in Milan.
For such a prestigious and alluring piece, the bracelet’s $150 price tag is shockingly reasonable, especially when factoring in the custom sizing available through the website. Check out the other pieces that complement this bold yet graceful piece as well, such as the Steel Lace Choker (my personal favorite) and the Crystal Whispers earrings.
Avocado lovers rejoice! There’s finally an earring that is classy, cute, and just kitschy enough to show your appreciation for the delicious fruit without veering into tacky territory. Created by designer Jan Kirsch, the earrings are part of a 3-D printed collection made from a combination of stainless steel and bronze, polished and hollow so they’re lightweight and easy to wear.
Jan has more than 30 years’ experience as a landscape designer, which infuses each piece with a reverence for detail as found in many natural forms. The pendants and earrings available in the collection are miniature versions of her sculptures and meant to signify “joy and expression,” as seen in these petite, rhinestone-dotted avocados and this matching pendant.
Nyxturna is an enchanting magick inspired line of jewelry and talismans created by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist, photographer, and designer Fay Nowitz. Each item tells a specific story and often takes on the form of wearable armor, and pieces inspired by bondage, various goddesses and identities, and even inverted cathedrals envoke immediate worship from anyone with an affinity for the esoteric.
Though it’s difficult to choose just one piece to showcase, the Venus In Furs necklace is a real standout worthy of a look. Cast from a classic Victorian hand pendant and reworked to include the detailed whip woven into its fingers, the pendant commands immediate attention and gives a powerful impression of those who wear it. It’s also a show-stopping three inches from top to bottom, so purchase knowing this will be the centerpiece of nearly any look and allude to forceful mystique that Leopold von Sacher-Masoch himself couldn’t have predicted.
Verameat’s Tiny Baby Tooth Necklace is one of the hip NYC line’s classic pieces that looks eternally chic in any color with just a touch of city-bred toughness. It’s beautiful for layering with other faves in the store’s lineup, or it can stand alone as an accent against the backdrop of a bare, well-moisturized chest on a sweaty summer day. Available in brass or silver, we suggest grabbing one of these to complete any look, delicate or bold, and consider the statement you’ll make with a tooth dangling from your neck.
Vanessa Mooney's offerings are all Instagram-ready and sparkling to perfection, but something special sings out about the Los Angeles-based maker's Ruby-toned jewel encrusted heart necklace. It makes a sweet statement without being gaudy, and it’s perfectly sized to capture the eye without overwhelming a look.
Good jewelry does more than just sparkle, it tells a story about the wearer in a language unspeakable in words. Little Rooms is one of the most fantastic smaller companies out there doing this with their innovative, fun pieces, like this Centaraus ring set, modeled after a galaxy in the constellation of the same name.
In addition to its interesting subject matter, the geometric patterns catch the eye from every angle in a beautiful art deco-inspired array. Perfect for a daily ring set that will lend intrigue to any outfit, it also retails for just $100-$105 depending on your choice of metal.
We wanted to show you every single piece of moon-themed jewelry the aptly named Wolf & Moon had to offer, but they’re so gorgeous they’re out of stock on most of it. This necklace is still available, and the others promise to return soon, so click through to browse even more of these enchanting, magical pieces that we simply can’t stop staring at.