After two years of turmoil, sales of stress-busting jewellery are booming, maar… Can a £120 necklace really beat anxiety?
There’s no doubt it’s been an unusually stressful couple of years — and as we head into 2022, the latest must-have accessories are a reflection of the frazzled way we’re all feeling.
These pretty pieces of jewellery all double as wearable tools designed to help you manage your anxiety, from rings you fidget with to calm nerves, to necklaces which slow down your breathing and bracelets that diffuse aromatherapy oils.
But do women really need a jewellery talisman to stay calm?
A cynic might accuse brands of cashing in on rising anxiety levels — and I admit that was my first thought — but there is serious thinking behind some of these designs.
Tanith Carey (op die foto) gives verdict on a selection of accessories designed to help you manage your anxiety
Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen says anti-anxiety jewellery can work as a ‘focal accessory’ and give reassurance without being obvious. ‘People need something that can be inconspicuous so they don’t have to say: “Hey, I suffer from anxiety.” ’
But does it work? Much of this jewellery is based on methods that have long been used to create calm, says Dr David Westley, head of psychology at Middlesex University.
'Byvoorbeeld, mindful breathing necklaces are based on flutes used by 17th-century Japanese monks, while worry beads seem to have originated in Ancient Greece and lavender has been used as a calming aroma for 2,000 years.’
They are not cures. ‘These methods may bring temporary relief for some, but they won’t address the root causes of anxiety,’ cautions Dr Westley.
So could the right bit of bling bring you a calmer 2022?
Tilcare Chew Chew Sensory Necklace, £8.99, amazon.co.uk
Tanith said Tilcare Chew Chew Sensory Necklace (op die foto) are impressively tough and quite satisfyingly chewable
According to a study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, one way people have been dealing with stress during the pandemic is by taking up more repetitive habits, including nail biting. But there’s never been a more important time to give up, as immunologists say biting your nails can make you more likely to catch the virus, which is transmitted on the hands.
Enter chew toys for humans. These necklaces feature 10cm-long hexagonal tubes. They are made of tough pastel-coloured silicone, which is safe to bite, but doesn’t sound hygienic to me.
I don’t bite my nails, so I don’t know if they’d break the habit, but they are impressively tough and quite satisfyingly chewable. 6/10
BLING WORRY BEADS
Worry-Not bracelets, £80-£100, motley-london.com
Tanith said Worry-Not bracelets (op die foto) don’t have many beads to play with, but is lightweight and elegant
The concept of worry beads dates back thousands of years to when the Ancient Greeks used them as an aid to prayer and Buddhists used them to help meditation.
Now jewellery company Motley has come up with a contemporary take. Worry-Not bracelets and necklaces are made to ‘be touched and played with at trying moments’ — and the company says it notices a spike in sales every time the country goes into lockdown. There aren’t many beads to play with, but the bracelet is lightweight and elegant — though I’d worry about breaking the chain if I tugged at it too hard. Egter, they are pretty enough, and it’s all in a good cause, with ten per cent of sales going to Mental Health charity Sane.7/10
Phogary Essential Oil Diffuser, £9.99, amazon.co.uk
Tanith said Phogary Essential Oil Diffuser (op die foto) has hopelessly long and confusing straps, reversing any gains in the relaxation department
At first glance, this looks like a watch, but instead of a clock face it has a cut-out outline of a tree.
Unscrew it and you can insert one of ten coloured felt circles, onto which you drop essential oils. Research has shown that good-quality oils derived from plants such as lavender work as a sedative on the nervous system, and when inhaled can calm stress.
When I tried it, the felt tabs kept the scent all day and it was easy to sniff discreetly.
Egter, the straps were hopelessly long and confusing, reversing any gains in the relaxation department. And while I got used to the aroma, and so could no longer appreciate it, anyone who came across me must have thought I smelled like a walking dish of potpourri. 4/10
CONNECT TO CORE
Hamsa diffuser beaded bracelet, with essential oil, £34, boostology.co.uk
Tanith said Hamsa diffuser beaded bracelet (op die foto) worked the best out of all the diffuser pieces of jewellery she tried
This bracelet is made out of porous lava beads, which ‘ground’ you, it’s claimed, because the material comes from the core of the earth. Produced by a small, independent London company, it comes with 2ml of oil containing calming lavender, which has been found to reduce stress.
This is designed to be dropped onto the beads so they act like a diffuser. For good luck, there’s a small Hamsa palm talisman attached, a symbol of protection. Of all the diffuser pieces of jewellery I tried, this worked the best, and looked the most stylish.9/10
Tanith said Silver Fiddle Pendant (op die foto) is perfectly weighted
Silver Fiddle Pendant, £120, wyckoffsmith.com
This ‘fidget jewellery’ is designed to give busy fingers something to do — which experts say can help calm nerves and improve focus.
North London-based jeweller Michele Wyckoff Smith took inspiration from smooth pebbles she found on the beach. Wanting something to calm her own worries, she came up with earrings and pendants designed to fit smoothly between your finger and thumb.
The perfectly weighted necklace — with an adjustable chain — is designed to soothe without shouting about the fact you sometimes feel anxious.7/10
Notch bracelets, from £24, notch.io
Tanith said Notch bracelets (op die foto) feels a little bit cheesy, but studies have shown that repeating similar mantras can help to relax you
Forget wearing your heart on your sleeve, this bangle allows you to have your goals on your wrist.
You can choose a sporty cord or leather for the bracelet, and thread on up to 20 brightly coloured charms engraved with messages you can choose from a long list, including ‘Just Breathe’, ‘Take a rest’, ‘Believe in Yourself’ and ‘Never Give up.’ It feels a little bit cheesy, but studies have shown that repeating similar mantras can help to relax you, and the writing is discreet enough to allow you to keep your words of encouragement private.8/10
Aromatherapy Soothe Jewellery, £38, rockmedesigns.com
Tanith said Aromatherapy Soothe Jewellery (op die foto) had a strong smell that put her off her food and leaked a little
These necklaces are glass vials for aromatherapy oils. The idea is that you inject your blend of choice through a small hole, using a little gadget that comes with it.
Om eerlik te wees, the smell was so strong it put me off my food, plus there was a little leakage. And just because I might like the smell of essential oils doesn’t mean everyone else does.
Maar steeds, for real aromatherapy fans who believe in the benefits, this means you always have your favourite oil at your disposal and at sufficient strength. 5/10
The Shift Necklace, £64, komusodesign.com
Tanith explained that The Shift Necklace (op die foto) was inspired by 17th-century Japanese monks who would blow into bamboo flutes for tranquillity
When we get anxious, our brains go into a state of primal flight or fight. This mode rigs your nervous system to make you take shallower breaths to prepare you to run away, even if you don’t need to.
To counteract that, this necklace comes with a two-inch stainless steel tube that looks like a whistle.
Blow into it and it helps control your breathing, or so we’re told.
It was inspired by 17th-century Japanese monks who would blow into bamboo flutes for tranquillity. Inderdaad, it boldly claims to confer a range of benefits, including decreasing stress hormones, blood pressure and slowing your heartbeat.
The Shift will even tell if you are doing it right. If you’re breathing out properly, you should hear ‘a low tone’, while if you’re blowing too hard you will hear a ‘high-pitched whistle’. 8/10