When Chanel jewelry is good, it is very good, however a limited number of pieces exhibit manufacturing flaws and inferior quality. I’ve noted pieces with the “nacre” off the plastic pearls, and others where the gold plate bubbled and flaked off or wore off after minimal use. This is rather unfortunate considering that many pieces are in the $1500-$2000. range. In spite of this, most pieces are of fine quality, and the design and proportion make pieces from other designers and manufacturers look ill conceived, clumsy, and lacking style.
The Chanel look is unquestionably chic and desirable. The very high retail prices give it an additional aura of exclusivity. However, those women who have Chanel taste but limited budgets can conjure up the look if they really want to. Here’s the plan:
Haunt vintage stores, flea markets, and antique shows. Know the Chanel vocabulary. The vocabulary consists of: 1) pearls 2) gold chains 3) cabochon jewels 4) a heavier, more generous scale 5) pieces based on medieval or Baroque originals 6) camellias and gardenias 7) lion heads 8) lucky 4-leaf clovers 9)cross or quatrefoil motifs 10) wide cuffs 11) rustic and hammered finishes
If you don’t feel inclined to go on the treasure hunt that flea marketing often can be, stick to foolproof pearls. Artificial pearls of the Majorca, Miriam Haskell or Carolee brands are better quality and far less money. And you won’t have to worry if they’re ever lost, damaged, or stolen. In the most memorable photo portraits of Jacqueline Kennedy at the White House, she is wearing very inexpensive fake pearls. Considering that the French considered her the most elegant woman in the world, nobody should have a problem wearing faux. Save the money for tickets to the opera, a good piece of art, or your kid's education.
Here are a few examples. Do you think these inexpensive thrift store finds look as good as the Chanel pieces?