How did a simple desk accessory become a hot jewelry style? We have no clue, but we’re all for it.
It was once simple jewelry that kids made with their friends, but now paperclip jewelry is beyond trendy among celebrities, jewelry lovers of all ages and Gen Z (those typically born around the very late 1990s if not the early 2000’s today through the early 2010s). The style got its name because of its rectangle-linked chain design. It can worn in a variety of ways and comes in yellow gold, rose gold or white gold.
A gold paperclip necklace can be dainty and light or you can opt for one that is chunky, big and bold. You can use them to dress up a cocktail dress, an evening dress and even your daily sweats and hoodies. The trend took over during the COVID-19 pandemic because many people were barely going out and living in their house clothes, but they still wanted to wear some simple pieces of jewelry.
Transforming a common and child-like object like a paper clip into a necklace or an earring leaves a lot of room for creativity and experimentation. That’s why so many versions of the paperclip jewelry style have been introduced, including paperclip earrings, paperclip necklaces, bracelets and anklets.
Some designers are even taking the style to the next level, like Virgil Abloh, the founder and creative director of Off-White and Louis Vuitton’s head of menswear. He released a line of jewel-encrusted paperclip-looking designs earlier this year as part of an Office Supplies series and collaboration. The creations mimic the forms of workaday desk accessories that have been altered into jewelry. One example was a necklace shaped like humble paperclips linked together, made from what appeared to be gold set with a rainbow of faceted stones. The collection featured a number of diamond-studded paper clips linked together as necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
In an Instagram post, Abloh explained the inspiration behind the series: “The collection is a concept for fine jewelry I developed and have been sitting on for a while now…It’s all cryptic & metaphoric but that’s as much of the concept as the adolescent idea of making a paperclip bracelet in grade school meets the blinding aspirational quality of a Rocafella chain. It’s my whole art practice in one object.”
Many people don’t know that the paperclip was also used as a symbol of resistance during World War II, according to the website Gizmodo. In the autumn of 1940, students at Oslo University in Norway started wearing paperclips on their lapels as a non-violent symbol of resistance, unity and national pride.
The students wanted a way of displaying their rejection of the Nazi ideology that was a bit subtle, and would maybe go unnoticed to people who didn’t know what the paperclip symbolized to them. Soon enough, paperclip bracelets and other types of jewelry were made as well, symbolizing Norwegians solidarity against Nazism. Eventually Germans realized that the paperclip was being used as a symbol of resistance, and wearing a paperclip soon became a criminal offense.