By Melissa Rayworth
For The Associated Press
If the phrase "mom jewelry" leaves you picturing the "No. 1 Mom" pendants and baby bootie-laden charm bracelets women wore in the 1970s and ’80s, consider yourself updated: The ever-growing market for all things mommy-related now includes plenty of sleek, sexy jewelry — often with three- and four-figure price tags.
Yesterday’s flashier pendants have been replaced by simple, casual designs in gold and silver, many with a restrained sprinkling of semiprecious stones, tiny pearls or diamonds. These pieces are designed to celebrate motherhood, but many are streamlined designs any woman could wear.
Given the beauty of these designs, moms young and old seem to be discovering that "mom jewelry" can actually be cool.
"Our ‘mom jewelry’ business at Red Envelope is actually the biggest part of our jewelry business," says Suzanne Ellis, vice president of merchandising for the gift retailer. She declined to give specific numbers, but says they’ve "seen significant growth over the last few years" while their birthstone business has tripled in the past two years.
Mothers can honor their number of offspring by choosing the corresponding number of pearls to add to designer Michael Michaud’s popular "Pea in a Pod" necklace. Jewelry designer Tali Gillette created her signature "Mama" pendant with the same subtle simplicity in mind. Her pendant is a circle in gold or silver formed by the word "mama" written repeatedly in lowercase script, with optional diamonds.
As a new mother, Gillette says, "I really meditated for months on, ’What can I make that I would really want to wear?’ ... One night, for the first time, my son said, ‘Ma, ma, ma.’ You know how it’s just one syllable at the beginning? And I thought that would make such a beautiful design, to wear the memory of how that made me feel."
Three years later, the pendant has been seen on Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts, helping to spike sales.
Among the hot trends in "mom jewelry" this Mother’s Day:
Semiprecious stones are in style for moms and non-moms alike right now, says author and fashion consultant Brenda Kinsel, who counts many 30- and 40-something mothers among her clientele.
Red Envelope offers round or square pendants dotted with small stones signifying children’s birthstones. Moms can choose stackable rings, bracelets or pendants that incorporate their children’s birthstones for a trendy look with private significance.
Along with Gillette’s "Mama" design, moms have a growing variety of pendants and charms to choose from that incorporate motherhood-related or inspirational words. Jewelry chain TOUS has combined a child’s drawing with the word "Mama," engraved or spelled out in pave diamonds, for their Mother’s Day pendant this year.
Red Envelope offers a necklace combining a birthstone with words like "loyal" and "intuitive" etched on silver tags to describe each birth sign’s traits. They offer another inscribed with the words "mother and son" or "mother and daughter" in both Chinese and English.
Popular Mother’s Day choices from Fortunoff include necklaces and bracelets with charms etched with "believe," "love," "dream" and other inspiring words, says spokeswoman Arlene Putterman.
Red Envelope and Fortunoff both say lockets make up a significant portion of their "mom jewelry" business in recent years. Round or oval lockets that can hold several tiny photos are available as pendants and bracelets in dozens of different designs. These are great for moms who store their photos digitally, rarely carrying prints in their purse or wallet.
The key to choosing the right "mom jewelry," says Kinsel, is making sure it really fits a mother’s personal style and will be meaningful to her. If pricey gold or silver pieces don’t fit your budget, she says, choose good costume pieces over inexpensive fine jewelry. She recommends fun, trendy pieces such as thick cuffs in bold colors or matte metals, like designer Andreas Eberharter’s "shiny simple" cuff bracelet.
"Think beyond, ‘What’s out there for Mother’s Day?" she says. "That’s not going to get you the cherished feelings the mom would have if you buy something she really loves."