Do the English, Europeans and Scandinavians find bling vulgar?

(147 Posts)
bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 13:44:09

Here's a nice, tasteful question for you... grin

I saw the other thread asking about the value of people's wedding, engagement and eternity rings, and it got me thinking that quite often I notice big diamonds on American and, to a lesser extent, Australian women, but not so much on English, European and Scandinavian women. The people I am thinking of are all high earners (or married to), so its not to do with money. I am assuming its to do with taste/preference?

I'm not a big earner or anything but I don't like really showy, OTT bling. Nothing wrong with a bit of sparkle or anything and if other people like bling, fair play,. I just don't like it on me.

DrNick Mon 10-Feb-14 13:46:23

mate of mine in sydney says its VERY bling there

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 13:52:40

Ha ha DrNick - I am Australian and I do like my bling. But I appreciate that some people do think it can be overly showy, like you suggest OneLittleLady. I was wondering if it was a cultural thing, as the English can be quite understated, and more discreet jewellery can fit with that.

Tweet2tweet Mon 10-Feb-14 14:00:27

Large diamond rings are considered crass and to some extent uncultured I'm told. Showy offy is how was phrased to me when I walked near the blingy ones when we were getting engaged, many years ago.

I must admit most people I see with large diamond rings are a bit TOWIE or flash.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 14:08:28

Interestingly, though, the aristocracy and the Royal family have traditionally had substantial family jewels (tiaras, earrings, necklaces etc engagement rings etc - you can see some of it at the V&A as well as at the Tower of London), so it seems that at that level, a bit of flash is a Good Thing.

Shallishanti Mon 10-Feb-14 14:10:15

different if you inherit it probably!

scaevola Mon 10-Feb-14 14:13:35

The Royal family only really wear bling on the big dress up occasions though. Pics in more private circumstances show only engagement/wedding rings, small earrings and maybe pearls or other fairly plain necklace. Add brooch and bigger earrings for daytime engagements. And a Crown for the state opening of Parliament.

I see statement jewellery worn widely in Europe. But a lot of it is chunky designs in gold, not flashy stones.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 14:24:37

Nobody rocks the opening of Parliament like Her Majesty the Queen! I am not being completely glib, by the way, as I think she is wonderful.

So, then, it seems that large stones themselves, might not be vulgar, depending on how long one has had them and when one wears them. I really do find these sorts of things quite fascinating - what we think and why. And since I am superficial, I tend to limit my parameters to fashion and jewellery.

squoosh Mon 10-Feb-14 14:26:09

From my very unscientific study I would conclude that Americans like BLING of Kardashian proportions, UK people like bling but to a lesser degree, and Scandinavians sniff at bling and generally just go for for a wedding band.

scaevola Mon 10-Feb-14 14:27:52

I'd love to be invited to the sort of ball where you can bling up and look right! Though mine would be Butler and Wilson, not the real thing.

DipMeInChocolate Mon 10-Feb-14 14:30:21

Not that I have any wealth but I prefer to see it in the bank, not wear it or drive it. The fake flashy culture is here in England but I wouldn't consider it to be something to be proud of.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 14:30:56

Err, I might not have the real bling required for that sort of ball, either! Although I see that its possible to rent jewellery, is it Bentley & Skinner who do that? it makes perfect sense as who wants to buy a tiara or something like that, when it spends most of its life in a safe?

I think the French and Italians (or at least, some) are Scandi, and dodge the bling, too? I am just throwing generalisations around here, now.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 14:32:21

Sorry, "like the Scandis".

Eastpoint Mon 10-Feb-14 14:33:49

From my experience, some nationalities would rather have a 3 ct diamond with visible flaws in a murky colour than a 1 ct D flawless, It depends what you want.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 14:34:59

According to my friend, a lot of Americans use cubics instead of diamonds, and if they do have a diamond they'd rather have a larger poor quality than a smaller, good one. That's her experience (lived in a few mc areas there for 18 years this year). I don't know, I'm not there. But in general, yes, too showy isn't really good in British eyes.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 14:35:44

Well, since the Kardashians have been mentioned, did anyone notice how yellow Kim's 20 carat engagement ring from that basketball player was? Definitely carat over clarity and colour [bitchy Bunny].

Eastpoint Mon 10-Feb-14 14:39:38

As soon as I posted I remembered that a lot of Scandinavians don't wear engagement rings at all, just a wedding band.

FrugalFashionista Mon 10-Feb-14 14:40:53

Just google 'Lutheran' wink I'm from Scandinavia and yes we do not like bling. My friends there are all highly skilled professionals but they dress down, shop at the recycling center and swap hand-me-downs. A steel ring with a beach pebble is much cooler than a diamond solitaire. People spend money on their boats, summer villas, and living running or biking distance from work. Luxury has a fairly different meaning for us, status symbols are very subtle.

FrugalFashionista Mon 10-Feb-14 14:44:54

We also don't get married any more, except if it's a same-sex ceremony wink

squoosh Mon 10-Feb-14 14:45:02

I'm not one for bling by any stretch but a 'steel ring with a beach pebble is much cooler than a diamond solitaire' sounds offputtingly worthy to me!

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 14:45:33

Not feeling the pebble ring, but apart from that, it sounds a lovely way to run your life, frugal. What are the stress levels there?

LittleBearPad Mon 10-Feb-14 14:47:53

Italians love bling. The French not so much.

American engagement rings are generally huge.

LaCerbiatta Mon 10-Feb-14 14:51:06

I would say that English and Scandinavians are European..... or has the definition of Europe changed?....

BikeRunSki Mon 10-Feb-14 14:53:47

The more Mediterranean Europeans I know love a but of bling. I know a few Greeks who can barely move their arm for the weight of gold.

MrsBennetsEldest Mon 10-Feb-14 14:53:59

Bunny, diamonds come in different colours and clarity is not judged by the naked

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 15:00:41

Clarity can be judged by the naked eye in poor clarity diamonds. And colour (certainly yellow) is not good unless its of enough strength and uniformity to be judged a 'special'.

luvfizz Mon 10-Feb-14 15:00:43

I love diamonds and have a nice sized one on my wedding finger surrounded by little pink diamonds on the band and I'm not British. I fit well into your assumption!

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 15:02:26

I understood Kim K's diamond was meant to be white, and it was yellowish to the naked eye. Not canary yellow, just off-white (especially compared to the side diamonds) - I was quite suprised. It is possible to see flaws in diamonds with the naked eye, too (I've seen some), and, obviously, some require the lens.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 15:02:59

Cross post w Wembley

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 15:04:16

Great (informed) minds, bunny. wink

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 15:05:57

Am chuckling as I type. I really need to do something more productive than speculate on Kim K's diamond!!

burnishedsilver Mon 10-Feb-14 15:06:47

I think Kim kardasian had a champagne diamond. It's supposed to be that colour. They are more expensive than a regular diamond.

I'm not a fan on bling. I'd much rather a chunky piece of silver. Dhs Aussie family are dripping in very old fashioned showey jewlery.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 15:10:48

'Champagne' diamonds can also be a lot cheaper than white diamonds. It just depends on the total quality. Some that are marketed as such are basically just murky coloured diamonds. Also it depends on if they've been treated or are natural. There's so many variables in a stone.

Degustibusnonestdisputandem Mon 10-Feb-14 15:12:10

I'm Australian and definitely don't like bling.

ThomasLynn Mon 10-Feb-14 15:12:52

Looking in the jewellery catalogues delivered today (I'm in Perth) I'd say there's a definite trend towards the blingy. Not so much giant solitaires but 19 or 20 little diamonds all clustered around a larger diamond in two or three tiers. Often square cut, too.

I don't like square cut stones. Or bling. Or tiered stones.

Lucky I'm not hunting for an engagement ring grin

Bonsoir Mon 10-Feb-14 15:15:12

Bling is definitely considered vulgar in Paris. Discretion is all-important here. Austere Catholic tastes are still preponderant.

MrsBennetsEldest Mon 10-Feb-14 15:17:46

Well I doubt any of us would get close enough to KK to be able to judge the clarity of her ring [ sounds wrong ].

Hardly think it was bought in Samuels though.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 15:21:59

It was from Lorraine Schwartz. I think she provides a bit of kardashian jewellery? [why oh why do I even know that?!?!].

Right, off to the school run, still can't believe I am talking about the kardashians [shaking my head at myself]

hogsandkisses Mon 10-Feb-14 15:22:49

I am Swedish and don't like bling. grin

Most married Swedes I know have one engagement ring and one wedding ring each (both husband and wife). Usually both are plain wedding bands, but sometimes the wedding band has smaller diamonds.

A blingy ring on a woman makes me think of a traditional American housewife. For me personally, it is very important to be seen as my own person rather than someone's wife, so I would avoid it for that reason. I'm not saying you can't be your own person if you live in a traditional marriage, but it's definitely not the life I want and I'm sure that's at least in part because of where I'm from.

And also I would be terrified of losing it. shock

Fantasyfootballfan Mon 10-Feb-14 15:25:25

I could do a big rock of an engagement ring without too much effort if anyone wanted to try me. Most of my friends have fairly significant jewellery, especially those who were married in their 30's. Generally 1-2.5 carat engagement rings, diamond wedding band, diamond studs of around 0.75 - 1ct each and a nice watch cartier / ebel / rolex / omega. They all dress pretty low key Gap / primark / top shop / new look so it doesn't look flashy or over the top at all.

burnishedsilver Mon 10-Feb-14 15:27:17

mrsbennett at the rate she's going, its only a matter of time til she posts a selfie of her ring so that people can see the clarity for themselves wink

MrsBucketxx Mon 10-Feb-14 15:35:58

Id love a mahoosive diamond, maybe that makes me a bit trashy blush

MrsPear Mon 10-Feb-14 15:38:32

From what i have seen from my husband's family the northern Albanians love the bling. I am surprised they can move ... think dinner plate watches, rope necklaces, big engagement and wedding rings all yellow gold. In fact his mum had a go at hubby for being cheap ... no i really wanted subtle white gold. But i think it is seen as some kind of dowry as the groom to be presents to bride to be (both families present) her wedding jewels - usually rings, watch, necklace, bracelet and earrings. The groom usually gets a watch and ring. They are constantly saving for weddings and funerals.

MrsPear Mon 10-Feb-14 15:41:21

Oh and as an English woman i do find my fellow English countrymen vulgar with this amount of jewelry but i keep lips tightly shut when it comes to dh's family as they are a different culture. Interestingly we can't find a translation of the word vulgar into Albanian.

RockMummy Mon 10-Feb-14 15:42:57

I think it's a combination of Lutheran/puritan ethic which is strong in this country and the post war austerity which shapes much of the UK's mistrust of bling. Younger people who are less influenced by those values seem to subscribe more to bling than older people.
Alternatively it may be that older people have other things to do with their money!

BecauseIsaidS0 Mon 10-Feb-14 15:58:24

I work in London but travel to our midtown NY office frequently. Overwhelmingly, women in NY go for bigger is better, and will prefer a huge rock of lesser quality, even if the flaws are visible to the naked eye. In London I see smaller diamonds although I work in the City so they still tend to be sizeable.

FrugalFashionista Mon 10-Feb-14 15:58:53

I didn't want to sound worthy, just portray the mindset back home. We have a long tradition in it, churches were painted white during Reformation to cover up sinful bling, and there are lots of proverbs to remind that only the ugly need embellishments.

Even if you spend a fortune on designer clothes, they should be as sleek and simple as possible, think Acne or Jil Sander or the Antwerp group. But something you found from the racks of the recycling center is cooler still, even among fashionistas wink

Curiously, here in Rome, I also see a lot of stylish restraint. If your wealth is very recent, you flaunt it. If you've been around for a while, you are extremely conservative and disciplined. Everything is handmade from highest grade materials, but there is no bling.

Apatite1 Mon 10-Feb-14 15:59:18

I'm south Asian so non one would blink an eye if I went around dripping in gold. However, I prefer diamonds and wear around 6-7 carats daily in rings, pendant and stud earrings. Only my engagement ring has a largeish diamond (though DH definitely didn't spend 3 months' pay or other marketing ploy rubbish) I have never gotten anything but positive comments, but even if I didn't, i don't dress based on other people's opinions so nothing would change. Mostly, people don't really care very much about jewellery. I dress modestly and wear glasses and no makeup and draw little attention overall.

My American friends tend to have bigger diamonds and they are all of excellent quality. The European ones prefer smaller ones. There is more variation within the countries than between them actually.

PrimalLass Mon 10-Feb-14 16:03:22

Yes, I find it vulgar. Although I'm Scottish not English or Scandinavian grin

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 16:11:23

Your third paragraph about the 'new money' seems to be the story the world over, frugal.

Tex111 Mon 10-Feb-14 16:13:28

In the US the engagement ring should cost 2-3 months salary so it's a real status thing that reflects on the man's financial worth. It's also seen as a measure of the man's feelings for the woman something big & showy is expected. I know women who chose cubic zirconia over real diamonds because the man couldn't afford one big enough.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 10-Feb-14 16:42:41

Not being judge, tex, but if it shows his love why have something fake? I don't get that at all.

Apatite1 Mon 10-Feb-14 16:43:54

That's very sad tex11, but yes, I know many conform to this "rule". I really find it distasteful to equate money with love.

squoosh Mon 10-Feb-14 16:57:30

There's something depressing about buying a big lump of cubic zirconia hoping that people will think it's a diamond and therefore think your beloved is acceptably wealthy.

Excuse the generalisations, but I have found in my experience that:

The British and American trends for the last 20 years has been for flashy modern settings. This has stalled somewhat in the last 5 years and there is now a lot more 'heritage fashion' trends and so the emphasis has been on heirlooms. Meaning that those without heirlooms have been looking at vintagey styles or less glassy cuts on their stones.

It's interesting, I often wonder if the lean towards 'heritage' is out of necessity as with many being financially squeezed there is more of a tendency to accept hand me downs or, in this case, second hand/family jewellery.

Scandinavians are spoiled for good and clever designers. They are more about 'the ring' in general rather than a stone. The whole thing has to be complimentary and simple (although usually deviously difficult to fabricate wink)

There are always exceptions to the rule of course!

Fantasyfootballfan Mon 10-Feb-14 17:23:34

I don't agree on their being more interest in heritage pieces at all, certainly not where I am. Lots of my friends and family have inherited rings from their husbands grandparents and have then had them reset into a modern style, nobody has kept the original ring. The fashion appears to be to bling up the original single stone ring, usually for a 40th birthday or 10th wedding anniversary with a pave setting around the original stone to make it bigger.

Slongette Mon 10-Feb-14 17:28:32

My engagement ring is a tasteful and not over the top and sits perfectly with my wedding ring....

On the other hand I have a whopper of a ring - We inherited the diamonds and I feel that if you have something that beautiful you should wear it! So I do and it's well bling (also known to wear animal print!)


coffeeinbed Mon 10-Feb-14 17:30:03

I don't do bling.

Financeprincess Mon 10-Feb-14 17:56:01

Re the royal family, upthread: I'm not sure that I'd describe their jewellery as subtle now, but Queen Mary was renowned for absolutely dripping in jewels. A sycophant said, "she wore jewels superbly, in quantities that would make any other woman look vulgar".

She was also renowned for admiring other people's bling, pointedly, so that they often donated it to her as a gift!

I come from a Russian and Georgian background. My family in both places love bling. I don't!

ShyGirlie Mon 10-Feb-14 18:43:38

Really dont like bling. Would definitely prefer something simple and elegant which is high quality. Im old fashioned though!

TheJumped Mon 10-Feb-14 19:15:51

Love a bit of sparkle.

I detest the snobbery sometimes on MN, the 'new money' thing. Saw it on the Chanel bag thread, seeing it in a more subtle and thoughtful way on here.

If you're rich, why not enjoy it? Whether that's subtle Dior bags or enormous diamond necklaces. Whatever makes you happy.

Snowdown Mon 10-Feb-14 19:21:57

I love my ring - the diamond is apparently exceptional and certified - I don't really care though, I just loved the simple design of the ring the minute I saw it, I don't think bling or not bling ever entered my head, I was too loved up!

SmashleyHop Mon 10-Feb-14 19:34:21

I'm American- quite happy with my simple, elegant engagement ring. Hubby designed it for me, so I find I love it more since he went through the trouble of attempting to be artistic. smile I only know about the area I'm from, but last I checked it was simplicity and quality that was trending over the big garish diamonds. Most of my friends wether they had money or not had simple rings- the largest of which was only a karat. Can't vouch for my British in-laws though. My SIL has a whopper of a ring so I always figured it was down to individual preference more than place of origin. Maybe there is something to it though.

SecretWitch Mon 10-Feb-14 19:42:56

I've lived in the US for over 20 years and always laugh when people on this board talk about Americans. My circle of friends here have excellent quality diamond rings or only a plain gold wedding band.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 19:43:51

I think I'd have liked Queen Mary: she was also instrumental in saving some of England's stately homes, as well as loving her bling.

It is interesting as to why some people don't like bling (large stones, lots of stones, let's just simplify it as bling). Some of the reasons make sense re Post War austerity carryover, reactions to a corrupt and opulent church etc, but some of them also read as disapproval for reasons of snobbery. When someone suggested to Elizabeth Taylor that her ring was vulgar, she gleefully agreed that it was and wasn't it great!? Or words to that effect. I like her approach: she liked what she liked and she pleased herself.

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 19:47:03

Actually, I shouldn't have implied that there was snobbery on this thread. It's been a reasonable, fascinating thread, and I've enjoyed everyone sharing their views.

TheJumped Mon 10-Feb-14 19:54:36

It hasn't been nasty snobbery, but it crops up a lot ime on S and B and actually all over MN. You know, the whole 'real proper rich people drive battered old cars and have tiny old tellies' type thing. I'd rather have a Range and a huge eff-off telly ta grin

bunnymother Mon 10-Feb-14 19:58:40

Well, here's another question: do you think people intend to be snobbish or are they just responding with their ingrained attitudes which, upon evaluation, are due to class based snobbery? In other words, is it so innate to view things a certain way that you aren't even aware that you do it or why?

And maybe I need to get back into a gripping book instead of posing endless questions on MM blush

maggiemight Mon 10-Feb-14 20:04:44

No bling in California as far as I could see - though didn't visit LA.
No jewelry much at all in fact.

BlessedAssurance Mon 10-Feb-14 20:15:39

Scandinavia here- and no bling. Very much looked down upon. Some even use their gold engagements ring as wedding rings. The rich guys try not to stand out too much maybe something to do with the dreaded "Janteloven".

BuggersMuddle Mon 10-Feb-14 20:16:22

What constitutes blingy?

From some threads I've been involved with, the very idea that a man would spend more than a few hundred quid on an engagement ring is abhorrent. The woman is being bought / she's a gold digger / love trumps all and all that worthy pish.

Then there was a comment upthread about 'only a carat' (likely to cost thousands if decent quality unless inherited or you're lucky at a jewellery auction).

Giant bags and obnoxious Michael Kors fake gold watches are ubiquitous in the UK. I think they're blingy, but they're fairly cheap confused I'd say it's less tacky to have a Cartier / Rolex / Omega, even though it's clearly far more expensive. It's a more understated look.

For me bling is about size or an ostentatious style, rather than how much money you spend.

Tweet2tweet Mon 10-Feb-14 20:53:22

Let's just hope a lot of the 'bling' bought isn't conflict diamonds.

I actually heard an interesting story once. Apparently the price of diamond is artificially high. That's because big jewellers like Debeers buy large stocks and then set the supply, making them seem rarer than they are. Other stones such as opals, which I find beautiful, are less popular because of negative marketing by companies like Debeers in times past. There was a campaign run that opals were considered unlucky, there is no truth to this. Debeers ran it as a campaign to prevent the demand for diamonds going down in the 1800's I believe.

So I suppose what I'm saying is that it's down to taste and personal choice. However I find the modern set diamond ring quite samey, an antique one, especially Art Deco can be stunningly though. I have an Edwardian one, imperfect, yellow diamond but my husband and I found it in small jewellery arcade and thought it had character and was perfect. Cost relatively modest amounts compared to some but it is special and reminds me of the day we found it.

AfricanExport Mon 10-Feb-14 21:00:21

I don't do bling.. just my wedding band


I have reached a point in my career where if I want to move up the next rung of the ladder - I need to get me some bling. So 9ct gold Russian diamond rings are being investigated (can't be asked to spend real money on it grin ). Also have to suit up and get a mulberry It's all about image.

I realise that sounds crazy mad. But If you walk into a boardroom in London there is a fair amount of bling, although I think it's bling with purpose. I.e. If I can afford these rings I must be fucking awesome and worth loads. I think it works as well. grin

TheJumped Mon 10-Feb-14 21:00:51

Bunny - I don't think people mean to be snobby, they genuinely do think they're superior to the sort of people who enjoy more ostentatious and obvious fashion or displays of wealth.

Which deserved pointing out sometimes I think. I don't like snobbery, it shouldn't be an issue. And it's so disingenuous too - trying to make having money some sort of exclusive club - old or new, it all stinks grin

You've got a point tweet!
Diamonds weren't particularly in demand until a very clever as campaign by de beers in the 1950's. 'Diamonds Are Forever'.

Prior to that engagement rings were a lot more varied and colourful!

Also just to clarify, I mean no snobbiness whatsoever in my sweeping generalisations down the board. It is honestly general observation from my end of the trade (which is not to say that others will not have witnessed otherwise.)

I can't be snobby, I'm happy to deal with anyone who will pay me money wink

Fantasyfootballfan Mon 10-Feb-14 21:07:18

I agree Africanexport. There is a lot of jewellery in boardrooms, huge fat diamond engagement rings, often another expensive ring on the other hand, always a discreet but extremely expensive watch, maybe a cartier love bangle and diamond earrings usually teamed with a v expensive handbag, might be Mulberry or I have noticed, Smythsons and often a Mulberry briefcase. I might often recognise the outfit from Zara or Banana Republic but the jewellery always gives away that these are really successful women. It's not blingy but it's a very expensive look.

coffeeinbed Mon 10-Feb-14 21:08:06

I don't do it because I get bored with easily with show pieces.
Anything that's too brash, too big, just that bit in your face is something I know I will tire of, so why spend money on it?

So I stick to something I know I will like and wear for years.

santamarianovella Mon 10-Feb-14 21:13:35

frugal that's very interesting.

I'm Mediterranean European,I love jewelry but not flashy bling,my dad's side loves it,but mum's side hates big flashy pieces,and prefer smaller understated pieces.

But I agree people who come from Mediterranean region love jewelry,and not because its a sign of wealth,they see it as good investment,some even believe that wearing gold protects the wearer from the "evil eye".

I see a lot of Eastern European,ladies wearing really expensive bling at day,not just watches and rings,but diamond encrusted bracelets and earrings,some look really glamourous and they stand out,they are usually slim,tall with long hair,and wear simple,but expensive clothes,so the emphasis is just on jewellry and bag and shoes,and others look really vulgar, as they have so many things going on,and can't make it work.

Northern Europeans really hate big pieces,and always associate it with new money,but what do you do with family heirlooms?

AfricanExport Mon 10-Feb-14 21:16:13


yup.. You know what I'm talking about. .. grin

It's like subtle Bling. Not in your face, like the inch thick gold necklace (Which would be frowned upon, I am sure), but oh 'so in your face' really. grin

AnaisB Mon 10-Feb-14 21:20:48

bunnymother a slight thread tangent, but have you seen the Grayson Perry series on 4OD about taste in different English social classes. I think you'd be interested. It seems a lot of what we define as "taste" is a careful balancing act between being ostentatious and subtle - it's just that the optimum point differs between social groups. (I have just made the programme sound a lot duller than it is.)

As for me, I have a smallish trilogy (0.8) crt ruby and much smaller diamonds and am English. I wanted something a bit different to a diamond solitaire.

noviceoftheday Mon 10-Feb-14 21:39:13

I wear a lot of jewelry but it's subtle though might be regarded as blingy by some but happily I don't care!grin

FrugalFashionista Mon 10-Feb-14 22:34:51

Santa re family heirlooms, the inheritance taxes take care of those. Also, there is the bank vault wink

Very few people in the Nordic countries have been consistently rich for centuries. Most of us are only a few generations away from very simple lifestyles like fishing and small-scale farming. We value equality and individualism in society, but standing out too much is frowned upon. This heritage is both good and bad.

I'm not saying you shoudn't wear bling. I'm simply saying that my religious and cultural heritage is strongly anti-bling. Someone else here might be a direct descendant of the Byzantine emperors, with very different cultural norms and expectations wink

SnowBells Mon 10-Feb-14 23:00:44

What is seen as BIG?

I mean, mine seems to be big for UK standards, because people comment on it. But it's only little over a carat and pales compared to others. It's very good quality though, and D in color...

MillyBlodyn Tue 11-Feb-14 00:10:01

Im Australian but don't like Bling on clothes or jewellery or anything to be honest. I did before I moved here years ago but then a refined friend taught me all about understated British style.

kelpeed Tue 11-Feb-14 06:24:12

i have discovered i like pearls... are pearls bling?

MrsCampbellBlack Tue 11-Feb-14 06:51:35

I so agree with thejumped. I never ever get why its somehow bad to have 'new money' ie money you have actually made rather than by an accident of birth.

I love bling and hope in the future to have some decent stuff but at the moment there is a house to renovate, chidlren's education to pay for etc. Which actually is probably very English to invest in houses and education rather than jewellery. Oh and hadbags of course wink

Floppityflop Tue 11-Feb-14 07:09:14

I don't think pearls are bling with the exception of very big ones.

Morgause Tue 11-Feb-14 07:12:29

I'm a fan of tasteful and "real" bling worn in moderation. I have inherited some beautiful jewellery from the family but never wear it all at once.

I don't like men in bling at all.

Amrapaali Tue 11-Feb-14 07:42:27

Frugal even your name reflects your culture. smile

Well, the English dont like bling because we are all naturally beautiful, innit? Gilding the lily and all that....

Yes, yes, I'm asking for it. Feel free to mercilessly take the piss. grin

Bonsoir Tue 11-Feb-14 08:38:28

MrsCampbellBlack - it isn't bad to have new money. What is deemed tasteless is to flash it around, in particular with consumer goods that are disproportionate to actual wealth (showing off).

santamarianovella Tue 11-Feb-14 09:16:23

amrapaali, there is nothing wrong with what you said,I discovered that the English ,some not all don't love showy bling, but the admire it,some even admit that the reason for not buying, is fear of being called vulgar or new money.
I think it's more like what frugal said,investing in homes,holidays, boats.. Etc makes more sense than buying jewellery.

Bonsoir Tue 11-Feb-14 09:22:01

A very good friend of mine is a jewellery designer. She is from NY, where she worked in the über high end jewellery business for many years and latterly had her own business.

She has not managed to import her business model to Paris, where she has lived for the past five years, and one of the reasons for that is that Parisian women don't buy themselves expensive jewellery - their husbands buy it for them and it is important for it to be branded, small and recognisable. In NY her customers were largely women, many of whom had their own ideas about what their jewellery should look like and paid for it themselves.

HelloBoys Tue 11-Feb-14 09:45:07

depends on the person. I know a few people who love big flashy stones, gold - bling.

some people prefer more suitable stones/metals.

HelloBoys Tue 11-Feb-14 09:47:06

Essex/East End (forgive me for tarring both with same brush and making sweeping generalisation) SOME of them LOVE their bling.

I know a few East Enders who love their gold, sovereigns and all that.

same for Essex - few Essex girls who like their BLING be it fake or real.

Vintagebeads Tue 11-Feb-14 09:51:06

I was living in th NE part of the US when we got engaged.
My ring is lovely though not big though my friends from home say hoe American it looks i think it the setting ...I will never forget my boss wife who told me that I should upgrade it when DH got a pay rise..all her friend go up carathmm with thier DH promotion.
I was a bit insulted really whats wrong with just saying congrats .
I lived in a few different states and almost all rings were really big.
Maybe its a regional thing.

Vintagebeads Tue 11-Feb-14 09:52:36

ahhh loads of spelling mistakes sorry on phoneblush

FrugalFashionista Tue 11-Feb-14 10:05:22

Having a lot of heavy and valuable jewellery makes sense though if your fortune needs to be easily transferable and portable. I think my friends invest in boats and villas and downtown flats because we live in a relatively stable society - if I lived in Syria my preferences might be completely different.

The consumer society is a really new idea. Most of us have come to having any money that is not tied to land or property really recently. When people get extra money, they start shopping and the earliest puchases are almost always pretty visible. I lived in Brazil for a few years and there a big proportion of the population was moving from poverty to lower middle class. The first thing everyone got was a satellite dish/a full cable package, then lots of consumer electronics, a motorbike or a car, and leather sofas. Fancier clothes and wearable bling would probably be next on the list.

HelloBoys Tue 11-Feb-14 10:05:24

Vintage - I do see the Americans (maybe they vary from state to state) prefer bling.

When I visit my friend on West Coast (Delaware, Philadelphia) the women ALL have big blingy very similar E rings, wedding rings (bands), and most often eternity rings too. My friend doesn't stand out, she's a NY girl but has a simple gold wedding band and silver friendship ring as E-ring!

I also know a friend from Charleston, she's not married but has a large pair of diamond earrings, large pearls etc... I have smaller pearls, smaller diamonds but I think I'd look silly with larger, I have small features anyway. Also I am just not blingy and ostentatious!

Vintagebeads Tue 11-Feb-14 10:12:59

I think your right i was also in Dallas for a while and can confirm that diamonds are like everything else in Texas ....huge smile

florascotia Tue 11-Feb-14 10:23:12

The idea that 'bling = shallow' has a long history in the UK. (Linked to the ideas of 'mercenary' and 'vulgar' but not exactly the same.) Am not a Jane Austen expert, but isn't there is a scene early in Pride and Prejudice where one of Mr Bingley's sisters (the one newly married to a complete boor) is described as 'playing with her rings' ? Poor her. Austen is saying either that she is so shallow that she can be pleased by expensive flashy baubles even if the rest of her life is pretty pointless or else that she is so bored and unsatisfied by a miserable marriage that she has to seek shallow and pathetic consolation from her jewels.

Don't know whether others agree, but I think that the way in which many people in the UK wear jewellery has changed. Today, people wear flashy jewellery in the daytime, even to work. But even in the relatively past, anything bling was only worn in the evenings, with a posh frock. There was even a 1930s-1950s style of very big ring known as a 'cocktail' ring. Anything for daytime wear, however valuable or expensive, had to fall into the 'plain-but-good' category. Unless you were royalty, nothing showy!

MrsCampbellBlack Tue 11-Feb-14 10:34:25

I didn't mean it was bad to have new money but its certainly judged by some people as being in some way not as good as old money - certainly round these parts.

I also think Frugal has a very good point re. the easily transportable nature of jewellery.

FrugalFashionista Tue 11-Feb-14 10:38:38

Flora fascinating! I enjoyed reading etiquette manuals as a child and they were all about getting the jewels out only in the evening. There were lots of rules and it all was very coded. You could really embarrass yourself by being too flashy - that's what American heiresses often did in Europe in 19th century novels. Apricot silks and hothouse flowers and big jewels at the luncheon and the ladies in the know tut-tuting among themselves.

In France, the courtesans may have influenced fashion too - good wives wore certain things and the mistresses and kept women were naturally much flashier. Coco Chanel who made big-impact costume jewellery very fashionable got her seed capital and a lot of her stones from her lovers.

Bonsoir Tue 11-Feb-14 10:46:41

Americans in Paris still tend to miss the mark slightly and go OTT when entertaining. It takes them a long time to learn the Paris codes.

santamarianovella Tue 11-Feb-14 11:25:27

bonsoir you make a good point,about branded jewellery,for my graduation I was given earrings and bangle from bulgari,why? My dad believes that branded names like bulgari,cartier..etc,keep their value,and that they are better quality than other jewellery brands,he certainly proved to be right,and his choice was better than what I initially wanted back then,which was a famous brand that has good marketing,but quality wise is not so much,

gindrinker Tue 11-Feb-14 11:37:58

Am I the only person who assumes 95% of bling is faked?
Eg big diamonds? Prob cubic zirconia? LV bag, a fake.
Mulberry? Nah.

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 13:34:13

I think if you have 'new money' then it can make you feel secure somehow to be able to clutch an expensive handbag, which you can look at and hold and cling to as a reminder of what you have and what you have achieved, that you won't starve or struggle for the basic things and can have a 'treat' that is a sheer extravagance. There is no actual and proper reason to look down on people who invest value in possessions - we all on S and B are vain and like to possess nice things and make ourselves look nice, surely? It's just classist snobbery to apply any other value than cost or perceived attractiveness to an item. Of course we make choices based on what clan we want to belong to, but it makes me barf to read people thinking they're morally superior because they hide their money. Why? Why not enjoy it, flash it around? The history of American flashiness and so on is interesting but still nonsensical and meaningless, pointless judginess from which as a relatively equal society, we should have moved on from and at the least recoil from rather than relishing in nudge-nudge 'new money' nonsense. Now did someone mention Cartier love bangles? Isn't Valentine's Day coming up? Hmm... grin

SofaCanary Tue 11-Feb-14 13:45:45

The Scandis are getting a lot of love at the moment what with all their bleak, murder dramas and sparten designs. Can't be doing with it myself, identify much more with the warm bloodied Meds with their big hair, even bigger sunglasses and their Jimmy Saville style gold jewellery...jangle jangle.

I'm vulgar and proud! grin

SofaCanary Tue 11-Feb-14 13:46:36

Blooded, not bloodied obviously grin

squoosh Tue 11-Feb-14 13:48:41

They're a passionate lot I'm sure things do get bloody from time to time, whacking each other with their Jim'll Fix-it badges!

SofaCanary Tue 11-Feb-14 13:55:02

Indeed squoosh, positive battlegrounds those piazzas are!

impty Tue 11-Feb-14 14:03:52

I think many English people do find bling vulgar. .... until they get something large and sparkling!

MrsCampbellBlack Tue 11-Feb-14 14:09:17

That's the classic Liz Taylore quote to Princess Margaret isn't it 'It doesn't look so vulgar now does it?"

bunnymother Tue 11-Feb-14 14:25:43

At home w sick toddlers, so hoping I can finish this post.... Also, in sleep deprived fog so apologies for any incoherence.

Am in complete agreement with TheJump. Old money, new money, it's almost like the deserving rich and the undeserving rich. I have posted before about how I think the class system can be quite restrictive. Seems to limit social mobility (not good) and also original thought (if everyone continues doing the same thing due to class and expectations).

Re some traditions re Jane Austen etc, I wonder if those codes and norms were especially adhered to by women who actually had very little freedom and independence? Perhaps excluding / judging others was a comfort, a balm for a restricted, dependent life?

Yes re portability of wealth in jewellery - comment along those lines was made to me by an elderly French antique jewellery dealer - I imagine he has seen many instances of it being helpful in troubled times. Lots of instances of people fleeing their homes in Europe w jewellery secreted about them. Apparently in times of uncertainty, jewellery/gold becomes more valuable.

Which leads me to the investment angle. Jewellery can actually be a very shrewd investment, and it's interesting how various asset classes have performed differently over time. For example, another antique jeweller told me how an elderly couple were buying something from him and mentioned that after WW2, they had inherited a house. But couldn't afford the running costs and the house (in the English countryside) was a nuisance, with little value. So they sold it, and bought a diamond brooch with the proceeds. Looking back, now, not a good investment, but interesting to compare the value of a house to a brooch (which was worth about £10k now, although brooches are out of favour, so not achieving optimal prices). However, some blue chip shares and London properties (negative equity, anyone?) would have been a worse investment over the last 5 years than certain items of jewellery.

Anais - I haven't seen that program, but it sounds great.

Milly - Despite living in a conservative part of London for several years, I have, merely narrowed my taste in bling to Art Deco diamond jewellery. The unarguably refined Daphne Guiness wears her inherited pieces (her Deco diamond clips are divine), often with her commissioned Shaun Leane (sp?) diamond hand armour. Not at all understated, but quite wonderful and fun, IMO.

Re what is bling? It depends. I was thinking precious jewellery either with big stones (1.5 carats and above, I guess) or encrusted with many stones.

Do I assume bling is fake? Not usually, no.

Re africanexport - if you are buying bling purely as a ticket to somewhere (like Grace Kelly's mother in To Catch A Thief? I liked her character), and don't actually like it, why not buy good fakes from Carat?

My young daughters love sparkle, and are instinctively drawn to my jewellery, costume or otherwise. Perhaps it's human nature to love a bit of flash, but we cultivate / educate ourselves otherwise, sometimes?

bunnymother Tue 11-Feb-14 14:26:31

Ha ha impty and MrsCB!

Sad51 Tue 11-Feb-14 14:36:53

When I visited NY 7 years ago, I noticed the majority of women wore bling rings. Some were OTT and not at all classy more in your face.

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 19:36:02

'The deserving and the undeserving rich'

That is such a good way to think of it I think.

And I don't want to stir any hornets' nests but it is the elephant in the room that a lot of women posting on MN buy jewellery / bags / expensive clothes with money that their husbands have earned on here, yet it is rarely said that they are any less deserving of high class status than others who earn their own Chloe bags or whatever. In fact it seems to me that women who spend money their husbands earn on expensive unnecessaries are often the most defensive of their rich club status. I don't care personally, I'm happy to spend DH's money on handbags him not so much but I find the selective judginess very interesting.

LinusDKD Tue 11-Feb-14 19:50:50

I believe it depends on who wears the bling on how they wear it, same as with leopard print.

The Duchess of Windsor had a jewelry collecton to die for and wore a lot of jewels at the same time and looked great whereas the same jewels worn by say, Marilyn Monroe might have looked OTT and brash.

I do have to say that the British tendency to attach class distinctions to everything (jewelry, clothes, handbags, education, jobs, housing, food, children's names etc) is baffling and at the same time weirdly fascinating to a Continental European like me.

scarlet76 Tue 11-Feb-14 19:58:26

Interesting thread.
I'm English and very understated in my tastes.
I like quality but not bling.
I don't wear my engagement ring. I'm just not a ring person. I just wear my plain platinum wedding band.
I think in part it's because I'm very petite. I feel that very loud clothes or very bling jewellery end up wearing me rather than me them.

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 20:02:34

Linus - do you not think you have made the judgement that MM wouldn't look as good as a royal wearing lots of bling, based on class distinctions yourself? Take away the word 'class' and try to describe exactly why the royal looks better. Is it an 'old money' thing?

bunnymother Tue 11-Feb-14 20:33:01

Well, the Duchess was quite severe looking and wore very restrained clothes, so perhaps her physical appearance was more suited to such extreme jewellery. Whereas MM was quite overtly sexual looking, so perhaps the jewellery would get lost amongst that ie what to look at first?

I'd not really considered your point re SAHM expenditure. I am SAHM, but was previously well paid [cringe], and I think the deal with some of the higher paid jobs is that they are so demanding that the high earner needs the household / family support their partner provides in order to do that job. Therefore, it's a joint effort and the income is happily split between the two.

The thread has been humming along without any great discord or personal attacks, so I hope it can continue to do so - it's fascinating reading.

LinusDKD Tue 11-Feb-14 20:34:34

I don't agree TheJumped.

Granted, the Duchess of Windsor married a royal but she was from a fairly ordinary American family and most her jewels were bought by her husband(s), not inherited.

I chose Marilyn Monroe as the antithesis of the dark-haired, very thin,conservatively dressed Duches of Windsor.

A Blonde Bombshell dripping in Cartier jewelry is a totally different look than a woman dressed in a black skirt and jacket wearing the same jewels.

I was thinking about their image and look. You choose to make it about class.

LinusDKD Tue 11-Feb-14 20:36:05

X-post bunnymother

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 20:39:07

I agree totally with you bunny - I'm also an ex-high earning SAHM and don't agonise over my right to spend our family money!

But it's related to where money comes from I think, in terms of new money / old money, and judging other women on whether they deserve to wear expensive things. Not just 'I don't like that piece of jewellery' or 'that bag isn't worth what she would have paid' but more class based, more personal criticism somehow, not just of her outfit but her entire personality, and the old/new money thing reminds people they cannot hide their true selves, very anti social mobility as you have said. Maybe I'm on a bit of a tangent blush

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 20:42:27

Cross post Linus grin

So also sexuality and weight come into it, you're right.

We all just want to look rich, young and thin, I guess. And effortlessly so.

It's just the classist thing is a particular bugbear of mine since the Chanel bags thread, when it became really nasty. I'll leave it now and lurk as it's been a really interesting debate and I don't want to derail.

TeamWill Tue 11-Feb-14 20:47:33

I wear a Victorian rose gold wedding band, don't have an engagement ring.

My mortgage is paid off though grin

LinusDKD Tue 11-Feb-14 20:52:28

Hey TheJumped it has been an interesting debate so apologies if my previous post was a bit harsh. smile

RocknRollNerd Tue 11-Feb-14 21:19:11

Not sure if it's changed with the younger generation but Germans tend to buy a ring for the engagement and then swap it onto the other hand when they get married, typically that ring is more wedding band style than engagement ring. They thought my engagement ring (a very small sapphire with even smaller diamond either side) was very flash when it really wasn't (we were poor students) especially compared to the Tiffany solitaire bling you see a lot of now. I lost count of the number of times I had to explain that when we got married I would get a plain gold band to wear with the engagement ring.

bunnymother Tue 11-Feb-14 21:25:07

TheJumped - do keep posting if you fancy: the thread will hopefully keep going and evolving - it's not derailing it to introduce a new point.

Thejumped, I think you had an interesting point.

Really anyone at all can wear jewellery. And if you consider very popular current pieces (ie: the Tiffany necklace/bracelet set that was inhumanly popular in the 90's, or links of London sweetie bracelets for the last 10 years) the general opinion of them seems to vary wildly depending on who is wearing them.

So if a girl from Hollyoaks wears one in a magazine it is 'common' and ubiquitous whereas if,say, Helena bonhom carter wore one it would be 'interesting' or covetable.

I'm not sure what it says about the human race on the whole but it is an interesting thought

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 21:48:10

Thanks, I just don't want to be responsible for any ensuing bunfight as I do tend to get irate about this stuff! I want to make people question why it is that they make negative judgements about other people's style, particularly when it involves large amounts of money. I find it very interesting but also maddening when judginess in this area isn't challenged or even recognised as such. A lot of people deny that they are classist but words like 'vulgar' aren't judging anything other than the class of the person. Eg Tamara Beckwith. If I had her money I'd live exactly the way she does grin and I think Kim Kardashian looks great most of the time.

TheJumped Tue 11-Feb-14 21:49:37

Do I mean Tamara Beckwith? The racing heiress. I think I'm confusing her with someone confused

bunnymother Tue 11-Feb-14 21:53:04

Ecclestone is the racing heiress and Beckwith is the property heiress.

bunnymother Tue 11-Feb-14 21:56:36

Petra Ecclestone, Tamara's sister, doesn't seem to seek approval like Tamara does, and in an interview said she thought everyone would live like her if they could. [whispers : "I'd marry someone different to either of their DH's though]

I think it's healthy to question why we make the judgments we do.

SnowBells Tue 11-Feb-14 23:43:33


That has changed with the generations in Germany...

LynetteScavo Tue 11-Feb-14 23:53:24

The diamond in my own engagement ring is very small. I could have had a bigger one, but I felt it was big/expensive enough.

A few years later, DH was earning much more money, and I always really liked that the diamond was so small, as it reminded me I didn't marry him just for his money I married him because I knew he had potential

I have a relative who married an American, and the stone in the ring he bought her is MASSIVE. I'm trying to figure out if it is a low quality diamond, or diamoniqe or what ever. I'm not sure how he could have afforded such a MASSIVE rock. She's not a bling type of person, but this was obviously an appropriate engagement ring where she comes from.

Snowdown Wed 12-Feb-14 09:34:46

I can't imagine the Scandinavians being blingy about anything - their style is so pared back, so very dull, I wouldn't think it's about class, it's about being conservative....not drawing attention to would be social suicide to express oneself in a manner different to everyone else, it's suffocating!

maggiemight Wed 12-Feb-14 15:38:06

The Mulberry share price for anyone who's interested
I think the bling fashion is over, I was in London last week and everyone looks like they sleep rough on the street - everyone in black with beany hats and stubble (not the women) but def no bling.

In fact bling looked out of date.

LittleBearPad Wed 12-Feb-14 16:16:32

Yes but mulberry is trying to take itself upmarket and has significantly raised its prices. It hasn't worked as Mulberry isn't prada, Chanel or lv. If they dropped their prices below £1000 they'd do better. I don't think it's symptomatic of designer labels being over.

bunnymother Wed 12-Feb-14 16:39:54

Here is an interesting article on the popularity of the Richemont group's luxury goods and why: (basically, transportable wealth. But it's conspicuous, so be careful)

SELondonSwede Wed 12-Feb-14 21:30:34

I am Swedish and yes I suppose that there is a cultural element that think that too much bling is somewhat vulgar too showy and should most certainly not be used as a symbol of love.

My beautiful husband to be proposed with a stunning 0.7c ring which to alot of people in london(let alone americans) would say is a very modest ring. In sweden my plain, esquisite solitair is seen as vulgar...

Beaverfeaver Wed 12-Feb-14 21:41:19

The only person I know with a large stone for their engagement ring is American.

SnowBells Wed 12-Feb-14 23:07:44

Hmmm… not sure whether all Swedes are THAT modest. Loads of pics on Facebook of Swedish girls occupying the higher echelons (aristocrats) who all seem to be very tanned, blonde and so very, very New York-ish.

Snog Fri 14-Feb-14 18:03:08

I dislike "real" ie expensive jewellery and hate wearing rings or bracelets or earrings. I do like fun ie inexpensive necklaces and watches.
I never like how expensive jewellery looks on other women either and no matter how rich I was I wouldnt wear it! I am english.

Hmm bling isn't really my bag - I've got a beautiful engagment ring which is rather large (3ct purple sapphire wih two 0.5ct diamonds either side) but that and my wedding ring are my only 'proper' jewellery really. I like my jewellery to be quite quirky, and to me proper gemstone jewellery tends to be rather staid and classic. Maybe when I grow up...

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