In an unexpected turn of events, the minimalist jewelry trend that has reigned supreme over the years finally has some competition, and it’s coming in strong. Alongside the return to statement prints and over-the-top party dressing, “re-emergence style” now manifests itself in eye-catching jewelry, too. Enter playful, craftcore-inspired beaded jewelry, largely spearheaded by emerging brands that are all over our Instagram feeds — and have only launched within the past year or two. The fun-loving aesthetic is hard to miss, and like many of the biggest trends these days, it’s a joyous nod to Y2K fashion and ’90s style.
Childlike, nostalgia-inducing jewelry was already bubbling up as a trend well before the pandemic, but lockdowns, Zoom meetings, and quarantine boredom largely fueled its widespread attention. With a new outlet of creativity, designers doubled-down on the style an even more whimsical, kitschy edge than ever before, or turning the trend on its head and offering more low-key beaded jewelry for those who are still minimalists at heart.
The telltale sign of any fashion trend guaranteed to blow up? A handful of celebrity fans. Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, and many more have been spotted wearing a few beaded beauties, quickly making these jewelry style a hot commodity. Ahead, see how some of our favorite beaded brands taking on the booming trend.
For Los Angeles-based designer Lisa Sahakian, a handmade jewelry gift to her boyfriend would be the serendipitous start of her cult-favorite brand, Ian Charms. Sahakian says she was looking for jewelry that was “weird” and “fun,” and when she couldn’t find exactly what she wanted on the market, she created just that. “I think people want to wear things with personality, which is why jewelry and clothing with a handmade feel is becoming so popular right now,” Sahakian tells NYLON.
Naturally, it’s the brand’s personality-filled necklaces that reel fans in, with charms that are anything but average. From sushi, broccoli, and popcorn beads to charms with locket-style images of celebrities, such as A$AP Rocky, Kris Jenner, and Justin Bieber (his mug shot, to be exact), beaded creations from Ian Charms are the epitome of wearable humor.
Designer Katie Rawsthorne diverts from the punchy shades often prominent in the beaded jewelry space and caters to a pastel color palette instead. In the case of her brand Picnic Blanket, however, muted hues don’t equate to any less of a statement. “I’m a maximalist that loves miniatures,” Rawsthorne tells NYLON. On the brand’s Instagram page, Rawsthorne often styles the pearled-studded necklaces in layers, then complements them with matching beaded earrings. “More is more,” she notes.
Unique, animal-shaped lampwork glass beads are signature to the brand, from pigs and bunnies to yellow ducks. Aside from creating cottagecore-friendly jewelry, some may find sentimental value in Picnic Blanket’s charms, too. “I’ve had customers message me saying they chose a specific piece because that little animal meant something to them, or reminded them of a happy memory,” says Rawsthorne.
Designer Gena Wachendorfer launched Shroom Spoon in 2020 with only 15 single earrings, and the brand is destined to become a go-to for all your ear-candy needs. Shopping for single earrings may sound counterintuitive, but it comes with the added bonus of endless mixing and matching opportunity.
“It is of my top importance to have the people who wear my jewelry really feel like they are being creative when choosing my pieces,” Wachendorfer tells NYLON. For that reason, she even encourages customers to DM her on Instagram for custom orders. Alongside pearls, many of Shroom Spoon’s beads come with a hand-painted feel, a product of one of Wachendorfor’s quarantine hobbies. “I dove deeper into interior design and became captivated by 1970s Murano glass lamps,” she says. “I began sourcing the grooviest beads I could find. The intention was to create jewelry that was funky and fine.”
Quarantine boredom led model Yasmin Moon and boutique consulting agency co-founder Mary Anderson to start making necklaces for one another, a meditative pastime the two found relaxing in the fast-paced environment of New York. Fast forward a few custom requests from friends later, and Mudd Pearl was born as a subtle and stylish beaded jewelry option for minimalists.
“While we love the playful and colorful aesthetic that’s become super popular, we wanted to offer something sexy and sophisticated to the market, while still remaining fun and youthful,” Anderson tells NYLON. Using unexpected shapes and varying neutral shades, the brand forgoes bright-colored charms to instead focus on pearl-centered designs. And Mudd Pearl’s styles are quickly catching on in the celebrity space, too, having adorned the necks of Bella Hadid, Barbie Ferreira, Emily Ratajkowski, and more.
Lemondropbeads necklaces have an alluring glimmer about them, complete with detailed elements, like blue Biwa pearls, shiny agate, and even glass-blown, glow-in-the-dark charms. According to designer Camille Shakirova, the brand is heavily inspired by nostalgia. “[My pieces] are inspired by toys, small trinkets from childhood years, and old album covers — small nuances that went unnoticed, but take us back to that time when we see them again,” Shakirova tells NYLON.
You’ll find Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh charms among Shakirova’s work, for instance, along with other kitschy figures, such as dolphins and pink strawberries. The designer says she’s had a knack for handmade creations from a young age, and environmental responsibility fuels her practices as well. “I’ve also been keen on sustainable brands,” Shakirova says, adding that she shops her supplies from sustainable brands. “I wanted to follow suit in my own way, through supporting these companies and individuals, then add my own vision through them.”
With Honey Please
Self-described as “Victorian aesthetic meets ’90s nostalgia,” With Honey Please is a testament to the versatility of beaded jewelry designs. “One may think they’re bound by what could be created with beads, but we see endless possibilities,” Eunice Wong, who founded the brand with her mother, Cecilia, tells NYLON.
Together, the pair produce styles characterized by tiny beaded clusters, strands intertwined with one another, and chandelier-like silhouettes. “We treat every piece like a painting — there’s composition, depth and dimensions,” Wong says. “Most of the time, you may need to look at the pieces from afar to ‘see’ the picture, like impressionist paintings.” In addition to statement charms — think lemons, flowers, hearts, and more — the designers even hand-make their own figures, including bunnies, berries, or vines, out of tiny beads.
Designers Alexandria Rosa and Regan Lowe of Petit Moments have always used charms and beaded jewelry to accent the brand’s classic metal styles, but the duo began incorporating more colorful trinkets with its Dreamland collection launch in 2020. “We were mid-pandemic at the time and had only been wearing basic hoops to dress up our matching sweatsuits,” Rosa tells NYLON. “We were eager for color and really wanted to offer pieces that sparked joy during such a bleak time.”
Offering everything from charm-embellished gold chains to beaded bracelets and anklets, the brand serves as a one-stop-shop for your jewelry needs, along with an affordable price point. Some of its necklace options hover around $35 a pop, so you’ll feel inclined to snag a few styles to layer and can do so without breaking the bank. There’s even some on-trend beaded phone straps for you to stock on, as well.