Complete transparency has been all the rage these days, at least when it comes to fashion and design. Over the past few months, I’ve thumbed past more and more clear things on Instagram than ever — a plant stand here, a see-through beach tote there — but I’ve been most delighted by the jewelry: thick, glassy chokers (as pictured here on Solange), elegant blob earrings, and stacking rings that look like small ice sculptures.
You might say it’s part of the explosion of transparent things that popped up on runways this spring, but Corey Moranis — a Canadian jewelry designer who’s been working with Lucite exclusively for the past five years — says clear Lucite jewelry is very much having its own moment this year. Similar to plastics like PVC, Lucite is a transparent thermoplastic that’s often used as a lighter, shatterproof alternative to glass. Clear Lucite hoops made headlines when Alison Lou’s “Loucite” collection of enamel and Lucite earrings launched in April (it was seen on Selena Gomez, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Blake Lively, to name a few). And an even more accessible version made the rounds in May when Bella Hadid wore a pair of clear BaubleBar hoops ($38!) out on the town.
The material has certainly had many lives, dating back to its invention in the ’30s. It was popularized in the ’40s and ’50s — when women would double up on Art Deco Lucite bangles, chunky necklaces, and carved brooches — but reared its head again in the ’60s and ’70s as rainbow rings, neon bangles, and colored beads. That’s why Garmentory co-founder Adele Tetangco says you may have spotted it first on your own grandmother. “She’s the OG of Lucite jewelry.” She sees this year’s resurgence in clear jewelry as a natural extension of Rachel Comey’s hyperpopular line of earrings made from translucent acetate (which, while similar in appearance to Lucite, is actually a wood-pulp-based material). “I first noticed Rachel Comey using it when she launched her very first earring collection a couple of years ago. But when we went to market for spring/summer 2018, there were a ton of clear pieces.”
And while iterations of the past were more interested in color and costume, the new wave of Lucite jewelry is sculptural and completely devoid of color. Marie Foxall — the owner of home and jewelry brand Wasted Effort — says she was heavily influenced by retrofuturism and sci-fi in her Lucite designs.
As a minimalist who lives for a uniform (head-to-toe navy or black), I am all-in on the stark, futuristic vibe. I’ve always been more interested in simple statement pieces because they’re punchy without looking overly flashy, minimalist and maximalist at the same time. Despite being completely clear, Lucite has the same heft as a vibrant accessory. It isn’t quite as stuffy as metal jewelry, either, and androgynous enough that anyone can pull it off, which is why I see myself wearing it for a long time. Alison Lou designer Alison Chemla is with me: “It’s a material that transcends seasons.”
Below, my favorite new Lucite (and not quite Lucite, but still see-through) jewelry designs.
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