Monday Roundtable: The Jewelry We Wear Every Day

The Monday Roundtable

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Jewelry is such a personal thing, even just the decision whether or not to wear jewelry at all. For this week’s But Make It Fashion roundtable, we asked our team: Do you have jewelry you wear every single day? Tell us the story of each piece! How long have you had it? Where did it come from? What does it mean to you?

We’d love to hear your answers and see your jewelry in the comments!

Carolyn Yates, NSFW Consultant

Most of the jewelry I wear daily is installed. I have three studs, two hoops, and two smaller hoops with dangles semi-permanently in my ears (not pictured); the first holes in my lobes are the only things I change, and I tend to wear my current pick until I lose an earring or they get discolored or misshapen. My tongue and (now migrating silent scream) nipple piercings have been with me for years and I don’t really take those out either (also not pictured).

Other than earrings etc., I only really wear rings. If I’m feeling like myself, I wear two specifically: One looks like mashed-together gold pebbles, and I bought it for myself two years ago when I turned down a job that paid more than three times what I was making and seemed perfect on paper because I knew it didn’t feel right, and I wanted to remember the feeling of believing in myself and my business and the future the way I did in that moment and also I like gold things. The other, large turquoise and sterling silver, just feels like me. I play with it when I’m anxious or need to concentrate, and since I wear mostly blacks and greys and whites it adds color, and as a stone turquoise feels good to me. Even though it was a birthday gift from someone who isn’t in my life anymore, it almost never reminds me of that person unless someone asks – it’s just mine.

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Carrie Wade, Staff Writer

The one accessory I wear every day is my watch; I’m not much for jewelry otherwise, despite repeated efforts. I can never seem to pull it off in a way that makes sense with the rest of what I have happening. The watch, though, fits in well and serves fundamentally positive purposes. It helps me cut down on compulsive phone checks (which are the gateway to my own personal hell, Mindless Internet Scrolling) all while making me look put together and a little fancy.

I bought this particular watch over the summer to replace an aesthetically similar one that I loved but whose band had broken and could not be replaced. Turns out this one fits me even better (lighter weight and tighter on my wrist), so hooray! I knew it was a winner when the first time I wore it to work, one of our queer interns came up to me and said “I’ve been staring at your watch all day; where did you get it?” Boom.

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Erin Sullivan, Staff Writer

At one point in my teens I made a sweep of the jewelry my mom never wore but still ceremoniously displayed and made them a part of my collection. I think she thought, “What the fuck?” and that I’d give them back because who just does that, but turns out I kept them. They’re simple gold pieces but are well made, which you can tell by the clasp! It’s all in the clasp, baby. I usually keep the same rings, brackets and necklace on, even when I sleep! My pinky ring was my grandmother’s engagement band which she passed down to my mom for her engagement band, and I got it cut down to fit my child-size finger. The only piece that isn’t a family member’s is a silver ring that I wear on my left ring finger for no other reason than it fits that finger best, and I always forget that’s what people check to see if someone is married. I’m reminded of that every time someone insinuates that I’m married!

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A.E. Osworth, Staff Writer

I don’t wear jewelry per se, because most of it makes me feel dysphoric (I wish this weren’t true but it’s true!), but if you’ll humor me for just a second and put “glasses” in this category, then have I got a lot of feelings for you. Glasses are a relatively recent development for me and I’ve only ever had one pair: The Moriarty from Warby Parker. They’re also not a tremendous prescription, but they do help with things like depth perception, and when I’m not wearing them I’m liable to attempt to place a cup of coffee one inch above the surface onto which I intend; this usually goes poorly. But aside from basic functionality, my glasses also sort have happened around the same time as I was figuring out gender stuff. I came out August 2017 and I’ve had my glasses since December 2017. They’ve become an important part of my gender presentation in a way that I don’t think would’ve happened were it not for the temporal proximity. Rarely do I leave the house without them; they make me feel good in a Ravenclaw sort of masculinity. And, as the Desire Map has told me, one of my core desired feelings is Peak Ravenclaw. So here we are.

I also have approximately one million enamel pins that I wear on my denim jacket every day, so humor me on these being jewelry as well. I can’t photograph and talk about all of them for this because that would just be me writing an essay, but pictured are two real good ones—a flagging pin made by New York Toy Collective on which you can shift the bandana from the left to the right pocket and back again. I picked that one up at the Philly Trans Wellness Conference. The New Game+ pin was made by A-Camper and community member Gavin Greco for Penny Arcade’s Pride pin set, and it shows off an intersection of trans and nerdiness that I enjoy. I guess my theme is gender-affirming jewelry-adjacent pieces.

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Rachel Kincaid, Managing Editor

I wear a necklace every day with a little Virgin Mary pendant on it; it’s my mom’s from Sacred Heart, the Catholic school she went to as a kid. It reads “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Chill! I recently added onto the chain a little sacred heart pendant because I found a cheap one I liked. I like wearing it because it makes me feel closer to my mom, who lives far away from me now, and is pretty representative of where I’m at with Catholicism: mostly engaging in it through nominal physical items and kind of just in it for Mary.

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Archie Bongiovanni, Cartoonist

I have a leather cuff made my my old co-worker who was a leather worker-as well as a server at the shit-hole restaurant we both worked in. One day he brought in a suitcase and opened it to reveal all these leather cuffs made from recycled belts. Some were engraved with designs or flowers but I as drawn to the simplest one. He gave it to me without accepting any money and I don’t know why I wear it everyday — I honestly couldn’t say — but not a day passes where it’s not on my wrist. It’s also DISGUSTING — I used to do dishes at said restaurant which meant being elbow deep in half-chewed food n spit and for whatever reason would leave the cuff on.

I’ve worn it to more than one wedding, more than one funeral, and it’s a miracle I never lost it when drunk. People compliment me on it all the time, which always surprises me. It feels like their complimenting a freckle or something that’s just a part of my body.

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Cameron Glavin, Cartoonist

I have three rings I rarely take off. I have a thin one is just a cheap ring I put on and never bothered to take off, a thumb ring I was gifted from a trip to Israel, and most significantly, a spinner ring with a Buddhist prayer on it that I don’t understand. It’s a ring that each of the members of my mom’s side of the family has. Most of my mom’s side of the family lives in Taiwan or China, so it’s nice to have something to feel connected to them. It’s especially important to me because I got this ring right before my maternal grandfather died. I lent it to a ex to wear at one point and when we broke up (on not great terms in a LDR), I was sure I would never get it back. I asked her to return it once every few months and after two years of that, it finally showed up in my mailbox in a battered envelope. I’ve only taken it off a handful of times since.

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Valerie Anne, Staff Writer

I always have one bracelet on each wrist. On my left wrist, I wear a simple, thin, silver metal cuff bracelet with the words “I know my value” stamped in. I bought one exactly like it at NYCC three years ago (it’s a quote from Agent Carter), and last year it broke and I was devastated. I tweeted my sadness and a lovely human being on Twitter who just happened to make metal-stamped bracelets CUSTOM-MADE ME A NEW ONE to match the old. It was so, so kind and my heart was so full about it. But this week I lost it??? I’m hoping it’s around my apartment somewhere, maybe tangled up in pajamas or something, because I’d rather it not be a sign that I have so little value that my wrist can’t stand to wear such a lie around it.

SO for the purposes of this, I shall tell you about the bracelet around my right wrist, which is a simple black metal cuff bracelet (just as narrow but made of sturdier stuff than the silver one) that has little laurel flourishes on either side of the opening, and a groove running down the center. The groove is meant to hold a hair elastic, so I always have one close at hand. Black elastics blend in, sometimes I add a pop of color. Functional and stylish! The best part is, that’s one less time a day I hear my mother’s voice (you’re cutting off your circulation!) in my head.

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Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor

I mostly wear jewelry every day because I’m lazy — like I literally don’t know how to take most of my earrings out so I never do (I have never removed my conch piercing and couldn’t begin to tell you how). I like wearing a lot of rings but the only ones I wear with any regularity are a little baby Verameat skull ring on my right ring finger and a big black onyx on my left middle finger. The onyx in particular I’ve been wearing for 20 years. Shirley Manson (my HERO) had one just like it in the ’90s so my cool internet friend found it at a gem show in Arizona and sent it to me. I’ve been wearing it so long that my finger underneath is sorta misshapen and I can’t really take it off. I’ve been wearing it so long that a kid in my high school yearbook wrote an entire paragraph about how he couldn’t stop thinking about that stupid fucking ring. My favorite thing in the world is when people ask if it’s a mood ring so I can say yes.

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Riese Bernard, CEO

These days, nothing, aside from the bellybutton barbell that has been chilling in there for maybe 15+ years?

From 2006-2014, I wore a leather wristcuff every day.

There’ve been brief periods of time when I wore specific bracelets (like when my boyfriend got me a Tiffany’s Bracelet in 2004 after I told him it was Every Jewish Girl’s Dream) or necklaces (I had this Jewish pendant necklace I wore for a while as a way of encouraging people not to say Anti-Semetic things around me since I don’t look Jewish so people would do that all the time!) (it didn’t work) or rings (hahaha remember when I was engaged) (except TBH i rarely wore it ’cause it was too big, but I’d wear it for special occasions) but in general, I’ve just never been a jewelry person. I have no desire to change this aspect of myself because I spend enough time thinking about clothing and accessories as is!

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  1. Valerie Anne, listen, those words are engraved on your damn heart.

    And every single pulse of it is sending it around your body. That’s the message, it’s right there.

  2. So cool to hear the stories behind everyone’s jewelry! I am way too fidgety to keep rings and bracelets on for long, but I almost always wear a necklace and earrings.
    My grandmother passed away last winter, and as her only granddaughter, I got a lot of her jewelry, including her wedding ring and a favorite necklace. I wore the ring on a chain for the first month after she died, and I’m wearing the necklace for the rest of the year. It’s silver, with mirrored curlicued silver wires, an amethyst underneath, and then a little silver rod with a pointed end hanging down. When I first put it on, it felt so weird seeing it on me and not her. But now it feels like a part of me, one that connects us both.

  3. Pearls have always had a WLW insinuation to me…whether that’s because of Tipping The Velvet, smutty euphemisms, or my crush who wore them daily. Now I wear pearl studs every day in hopes of making someone else’s imagination run a little wild.

    • I have a pearl pendant that looks pretty much exactly how I envisioned the one from Tipping the Velvet when I first read the book, and I wear it to all my job interviews cause it looks formal and fancy and only I know that it’s gay.

  4. A.E, that New Game+ pin is everything!!! I love it so much and relate to it on so many levels (and its even more cool because it was made by an A-Camper!!).

  5. I wear two rings every day- left middle finger for optimal spinnyness has a spinner ring with little skulls on it, from a witchy shop that was going out of business. The other hand, ring finger, is an “opaline” cabochon (probably just heat-treated quartz) I bought after surviving my first semester of college.
    Really hate the sensation of wearing rings that touch other rings, or I’d probably wear more.
    I have a tiny pair of diamond studs from my late nana when I want to get fancy, and I’m considering a second lobe piercing as a Christmas gift to myself.
    my god do I wish I could afford more sterling silver and that opals were less fragile and also less expensive

  6. So I know some people might roll their eyes at the jewelry I’m about to talk about since it’s ‘religious’ but that’s okay. Mine are two pieces of jewelry from my grandma that were given to me when I graduated high school in 2003, a silver cross necklace and a silver band. They are from James Avery, which is a heavily faith based store but my grandma used to give all the women in my family jewelry from there. They are simple pieces but I feel naked without them.

  7. The only jewellery I wear daily are small hoop earrings (a newish development) and a rainbow ribbon tied around my right wrist (does this even count? it’s just a tied ribbon but it’s here and it’s queer?).

    I don’t usually find jewellery casual enough for everyday wear, but I’m a sucker for necklaces layered over shirt collars.

    I suspect I would lose my pins in a matter of hours if I changed them constantly, so I just wear them whenever I wear my Statement Denim Jacket. It’s a look.

  8. For the past 26 years, I’ve pretty consistently worn at least one ring, starting with a small turquoise one my mom gave me around Christmas when I was 5 (but not for an actual Christmas present). Most of the rings I’ve worn have been turquoise, malachite, or ivory. For awhile I was wearing a “mother’s ring” given to me by a family friend before I went to college. It had a ruby and a sapphire in it, which coincidentally were the birthstones of my mother and father, respectively. I eventually took it off around the time I came out, almost as a symbol of me breaking away from the traditional role and life they had anticipated for me, like taking off the ring allowed me to be my own person. Right now, I have a silver and turquoise ring on my right middle finger, a black and silver ring on my left middle finger, and a gold with two Black Hills gold leaves ring on my left ring finger. I know you left ring finger is supposed to be for your wedding ring, but this ring just fits best on this finger.

    As for other jewelry, I don’t like wearing necklaces and have never been able to wear a daily necklace. I can do necklaces when I have to dress up for openings, shows, etc. I wear earrings intermittently, but generally only posts. I used to work for a woman that insisted all the women in the office wear earrings, but I refused to participate on principal.

  9. I wear two rings everyday. One is my Star Wars Imperial ring that I got from Etsy because it reminds me of my badass Sith sorcerer character from the online rpg. It just makes me feel powerful in ways I cannot describe. The other is two extremely thin interlocking gold strips. I got it for my 20th birthday from my grandma who was torn up about the fact that she never gave me any confirmation jewellery (I didn’t have a confirmation, which is basically unheard of in Iceland). So it reminds me of her, and also the fact that I don’t do things because that’s ‘just the way we’ve always done things’. It reminds me to stay true to myself.

  10. I’m not much of a jewellery person. The only thing I wear consistently is my wedding ring.

  11. Y’all… I did not know that spinner rings were a thing. This is blowing my mind. For the first time in over a decade, I might actually think about getting a piece of jewelry.

    • Amazon has a couple iridescent spinner rings. One where the spinner is little chain links and one where it’s smooth.

      Definitely go to a jeweler and try on their ring sizers to figure out what you want though, the Internet’s directions on how to measure your finger lead you down a path of obsessively careful measurement to a destination of lies, lies, lies and rings that are far too big, then being like ugh I do not want to pay the money or the fleeting moments of my life standing in line to ship all these things back, maybe I can wear them on a necklace or something, ugh but I really want an iridescent ring and they don’t even come in my actual size, UGH life is not fair.

      I mean, I…heard from a friend.

        • Us older straddlers gotta protect the young whippersnappers from all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through, ordering rings off Amazon uphill both ways through the snow.

  12. I don’t really wear anyother jewerly besides a watch. I for years as kid in 90s was just wearing different variants of the Casio calculator watch(first the OG, then the one that also stored contacts both given to me by my grandparents). After that in 2000 my parents, as a Chanukah gift, bought me a Timex-Motorola pager watch. Every morning it would send me the weather report for the major cities in the US, mid day I would get top news story of the day, and in the afternoon I got NBA scores. I even used it once to cheat on a test as I used the contact list to save stuff on the periodic table of elements. The way I did it was via the app on the computer where one put all the info then used what I think was some form of IR technology to send the info from your computer screen to the watch, which had a sensor on the face of it. It was kind of head of it’s time in certain ways, and still have it in a drawer somewhere.

    The first watch I bought myself was this Citizen divers watch that was partial solar powered(only used the battery when it was low on solar power), and it looks so cool as it could automatically sync to the time zone I am in or for day light savings. Plus, I could take it in the ocean with me. Also, in a drawer somewhere. After that broke I stopped wearing watches until I decided I wanted to track my movement last year and tested three different watches before setting on a Samsung Gear Sport(liked the controls a lot). It’s not fancy, but really gets the job done and is accurate enough. And unlike the pager watch that used an easily replaceable watched battery to power it, the Samsung watch is rechargeable.

  13. My first ace ring was a black hematite ring that my mom-by fate or coincidence-had stashed away in her jewelry box. It was one of a pair that she had purchased at a craft fair years prior. For me, that ring symbolized my family’s acceptance of my aro ace identity; and my own prioritization of familial bonds and other platonic relationships in a society that tells woman that romantic relationships are their be-all-end-all.
    That first ring broke a few weeks ago. My second and current ace ring is a spinner ring I purchased from Stimtastic as a backup in case the first ring broke. For me, this new ring symbolizes my autism in addition to my aromantic asexuality.

  14. I loved reading this!

    I’ve gone off jewellery over the last year or so, both because I’ve been migrating towards a more normatively masculine presentation but also because I finally admitted to myself/realised that I don’t like wearing jewelry because having things on my skin stresses me out!!! I’m a “highly sensitive person” which means I’m super sensitive to external stimuli of all kinds (bright lights, loud noises, etc – I am very delicate, okay) and that extends to my skin. I hate wearing clothes (all naked, all the time, pls) and I hate wearing jewellery! Whenever I have it on, all I can think about is how it’s pressing against my skin and how soon I can take it off.

    • I could probably handle bracelets (although I don’t usually wear things on my wrist other than a hairband), but I feel similarly about earrings! Even when wore earrings regularly (which was a looong time ago, my piercings are closed), I found them lowkey irritating in a way that I didn’t always realize I was feeling until I took them out.

  15. The only jewelry I wear all the time is my wedding ring. It’s a wide band, no jewel, with a central line of rose gold with a pattern on it kind of like flowing water or maybe tree bark, then yellow gold on either side, then really thin white gold along the outside. I didn’t want a diamond, never liked them, and we did want matching rings, so we want shopping together after he said yes. I bought his, he bought mine, now over a decade later we’ll still be like, “Hey there cute stuff, that’s a nice ring. Wanna shack up and have a kid?”

    I do have other pieces that mean a lot to me. My grandmother’s engagement and wedding rings on a high-quality silver chain, that I wear when I need to feel her close by believing in me. A necklace of multicolored bright plastic beads on a red thread, that my niece made for me when she was about four, as well as two pipe-cleaner bracelets with rainbow beads on them my daughter made at a similar age. I wear those sometimes because awww and also because I hope they signal queer as much as parent.

    I’m also, since my plan to show up to job interviews sporting an iridescent ring is not working out, deciding how to signal in a more professional way than child-made plastic bead rainbow jewelry. Might just get a thin plain band my actual ring size and wear it above the too-big iridescent ring to keep it on. Might make myself a new necklace or bracelet using one of the rings. Might tattoo “I know I’m married to a guy and have a kid and you think I look straight but actually none of those things are conclusive ok?” on my forehead. Possibly a small scrolling marquee on a head-strap instead of a tattoo, for font-size considerations. Subtlety is my goal.

  16. i was going to say that i never wear jewelry but i have pierced ears and an eyebrow piercing that i’ve never taken out (which i’m p sure would make my piercer cry? sorry kristen) and for most of college i wore this cool lil ear cuff but one night it fell off in my sleep and i never saw it again so

    and despite the fact that i’ve not worn bracelets or necklaces since middle school, my mother has given me a bracelet or a necklace for the last three gift-giving holidays! let’s see if the streak continues this christmas #jewelrywatch2k18

  17. No picture because it’s a pain to take off and put back on (clasp is broken), but I wear a chain with a T charm from a High School Musical necklace that was a present from my best friend before he died (we loved High School Musical together and I tried to talk him into cosplaying Troy to the premiere of the third movie with me cosplaying Gabriella), a replica ring from Uncharted reading “sic parvis magna” (“greatness from small beginnings”) because I’m a video nerd as well as a DCOM nerd and I need the reminder that I can still do great stuff from my small starts, and a ring with leaves that was given to my mom when she first went overseas on her own and then she gave to me.

  18. At some point in high school I started needing to wear things on my wrists to ground myself so I started wearing a watch regularly (a simple all-black Casio analog watch; it broke last year and I immediately bought an identical one to replace it because I can’t function without it) and started amassing a collection of various bracelets and cuffs, which I don’t wear that often anymore cause now I have my Fitbit on my right wrist and it balances out.
    I wear two rings regularly – a silver one with 3 stars that was given to me after a traumatic event by a friend who helped me slowly return to some semblance of normalcy; and another silver one with little flowers and a tiny oval-shaped purple stone that I bought in London after going to see where my ex’s ashes had been scattered.
    I also have a spinner ring with rainbow rhinestones that I wear during stressful times in my life (e.g. finals week)

    • ALSO all of the rings in this post are amazing and I love them, especially Cameron’s prayer ring and Stef’s giant onyx ring. Is it just me or are rings inherently lesbian culture???

        • YES! Someone wrote about it once, cannot recall the source tho.

          Went something like queer women wearing rings=hand attention, queer men “oh no accessories might look gay, heh good thing I don’t have to worry about that”

  19. Stef and Archie aren’t the only filthy ones.

    Different points in my life I used to wear a jewelry item everyday, but currently I don’t wear any at all. The last thing I used wear everyday was this treated cotton cord. I simply took it off the cardboard thingy, tied the ends in a knot, wound the whole thing around by wrist and just wore it non-stop till it rotted off which took years. Even though my family made yearly trips to the Gulf Coast and I got in the salt-water it still took years.

    The year it rotted off I happened to take my first jewelry fabrication class which for those not in the know is like a metal shop class and wearing jewelry is dangerous(the irony was never lost anybody about that). After using a soldering torch stoves and ovens where distinctly unthreatening so my cooking journey began and more reasons to not wear jewelry every day.

    I’m failing to bridge this right but at some point later when I’d try to “dress up” I’d add jewelry. It would either feel like it completed the “costume” or it would make me feel in what I could word as “stupid” but of course now I know the word I didn’t have was dysphoric. Also the costume feeling was def dysphoria too.

    The only jewelry that doesn’t make me feel dysphoric EVER is finger armor, thick rings, and chains that stop around my collarbone. I suspect at some point I will start looking like season 6 Spike, greasy gothy chav-ness. My only hope is I don’t cut my hair that short, never going to have enough income for the amount hair gel required to prevent Italio-fro if future me does that.

  20. Yeah I don’t really wear jewelry other than my watch and fitbit–and the fitbit is only to monitor my heart rate because of medical stuff.

  21. I chased a vintage Omega watch like the one Mia wears in “Kyss Mig” across the internet and now that I have it, wear it almost all the time. It’s old and shiny and perfect. Yeah, the sex scenes were good but not as good as the watch!

  22. I wear a Claddagh ring on my right ring finger every day (except that one time it was getting discoloured due to the very soft water near Quebec City). I turn it around based on whether I am in a relationship or single. I bought it in Ireland in 2011 on the day I came out to my mom. I think it is traditionally a ring that is given to you out of a romantic gesture, but by buying it for myself it reminds me that I am enough as I am. I like to touch its band with my right thumb occasionally throughout the day, I guess as a grounding technique.

  23. I love this thread! I like to buy myself a new piece of jewelry whenever I visit a new city or to mark personal milestone of various kinds. I think of it as akin to making a wearable scrapbook. At the moment, I’m recovering from a very difficult break-up (is there any other kind?), and I feel like I can’t wear the pieces of jewelry that my former partner bought me because they make me feel too sad. So it really helps that I have a lot of other pieces that I bought for myself which remind me of exciting new experiences, happy times with friends, moments of professional accomplishment, etc. They’re physical reminders that even though I’ve lost a relationship that was very precious to me, I have many other meaningful things in my life.

  24. I love hearing the stories behind stuff like this!
    I wear some jewelry most days but sometimes it feels weird and bothers me and I have to take it off, and also sometimes I am so tired in the morning I barely remember to put on my shoes.
    I have a gold ring engraved with little leaves that my mom bought me in high school, which is the only nice ring I own and have managed not to lose (I’ve left it in my workplace bathroom countless times and it has been miraculously rescued by the building housekeeper every single time, bless her!). I used to wear a set of cheap rose gold rings every day as well, but they were all left in a university bathroom once and I haven’t replaced them yet.
    I also just recently fixed an old broken necklace I used to wear every day when I was 18. It’s a tiny gold pendant with a little eye carved into it. It’s the only necklace I have that looks good with everything and doesn’t feel too heavy.
    The only jewelry I reliably wear every single day is earrings— unless I choose a special pair for an outfit or something, it’s the same tiny pewter studs, which I only take out to sleep or wear tight headphones.
    In high school I would wear every single necklace and bracelet that I owned all at once every single day, because 14 year olds can be Like That and also because the bracelets covered up a bunch of self harm scars. I haven’t worn bracelets since then and probably won’t ever again.

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