One of my favorite parts of creating an outfit is getting to choose jewelry and accessories to elevate basic looks and show off interesting designs. I’ve curated a large collection of earrings, necklaces, and scarves over the years, and often get asked how I choose jewelry and accessories that don’t aggravate the symptoms of Chiari Malformation or other chronic pain conditions. Here are my favorite strategies for choosing jewelry with chronic pain, and examples of styles that work well with chronic head and neck pain.
Figure out the weight of jewelry pieces
I have a single piercing in my ears and have a mix of stud earrings with straight posts as well as dangle earrings with hook posts. I’ve figured out that I prefer earrings that weigh 8.5 grams or 0.3 ounces or less, and prefer stud earrings to be less than half an inch in diameter. Many websites will list the weight of their products online in the product listing.
For necklaces, I find that the more lightweight they are, the better- I stay away from statement necklaces or items with a lot of gems or beads since these can be difficult for me to wear for long periods of time. Most of my necklaces have a single pendant or charm on them and weigh three ounces or less.
- How To Write Image Descriptions About Jewelry For Visual Impairment
- Making Clothing Stores Accessible For Low Vision
What length works best?
Most of my earrings are two inches long or less, but I have some longer pieces that are particularly lightweight. I don’t like to wear jewelry that hits my neck or that makes noise as I move.
For necklaces, most of my necklaces have 16 inch chains, though I also have a few that are 18 inches and a few longer pendants as well. I avoid choker styles since those sit higher on my neck, but have a few necklace extenders so I can lengthen another chain and make it more comfortable to wear or easier to put on.
All of my jewelry is made of sterling silver, filled gold, or plated gold as I like the aesthetic of these pieces and find them comfortable to wear. I take off jewelry before going to bed and do not wear them in areas where there is a lot of water.
- Low Vision Assistive Technology For The Bathroom
- Getting Dressed With Assistive Technology For Vision Loss
I purchased silicon earring backs that can comfortably keep earrings in place and serve as extra insurance for hook closures to ensure they don’t fall off. I also have a few pairs of leverback earrings, which have a hinged back and are considered more comfortable to wear than hook earrings.
Necklace chains can be adapted with magnetic closures or other chain attachments that can make it easier to manipulate. Almost all of my necklaces use a lobster clasp, which I find easier to use than smaller box clasps. Larger clasps can also be attached to necklaces to make them easier to put on/take off.
What about bracelets/rings/other jewelry?
I don’t wear jewelry on my hands due to neuropathy from Chiari Malformation and a secondary medical condition, so I don’t have a lot of experience with wearing other types of jewelry. When I did wear bracelets, I would often gravitate towards cuff styles or lightweight beads that did not move easily and avoided items with clasps as I found them difficult to close.
- Explaining Chiari Malformation in Seven Words or Less
- Bedding Hacks For Chiari Malformation
- Why Everyone Should Design For Chiari Malformation: My Talk At ID24 2020
A note on scarves
While not technically jewelry, scarves are one of my favorite accessories and there have been times where I have worn scarves nearly every day, especially during high school/college. All of my scarves weigh eight ounces or less, and I discovered that I prefer materials like cotton voile, organic cotton, acrylic, and rayon over heavier materials like wool, metallic/glitter fabrics, and flannel. I also make sure to tie scarves so they are not constricting or pressing against my neck, and avoid knot styles that are close to the neck or throat.
How I store jewelry/scarves
I store my earrings in a hanging closet organizer with multiple clear pockets, organizing earrings by color and metal type so that I can easily retrieve the pair I want to wear. I purchased my first organizer from Charming Charlie, which has since gone out of business, but I have a second organizer from The Container Store that is awesome as well.
For necklaces, I attach Pinhooks to a cork board on the wall to hang necklaces, organizing by length and color. Scarves are tied onto an over-the-door towel holder and hung on my closet door.
- Pinhooks website
- Ten Weird Things I Brought to College
- Organizing A Walk-In Closet With Vision Loss
- How I Decorate My Dorm Room With Low Vision
My favorite places to shop for jewelry/accessories
Here are my favorite stores to shop for jewelry with chronic pain and places to find other accessories at a variety of price points. These links are not sponsored or affiliate links, so I have no way of knowing if someone makes a purchase- I’m sharing them because I love them!
- NOVICA – Home Decor, Jewelry & Gifts by Talented Artisans Worldwide
- Caitlyn Minimalist – Jewelry Crafted with Love
- Home – Delicacies (delicaciesjewelry.com)
- ForgottenCotton – Etsy
- Autumn Equinox Jewelry (autumn-equinox.myshopify.com)
- Charming Charlie Women’s Clothing On Sale Up To 90% Off Retail | thredUP