Jewelry at the gym: Everyday glam or accident waiting to happen?

At some boutique fitness classes, solid gold Cartier bangles and diamond-flecked necklaces are as common as Lululemon leggings.
At some boutique fitness classes, solid gold Cartier bangles and diamond-flecked necklaces are as common as Lululemon leggings.

Summary

At some high-end fitness studios, women are working out in stacks of fine jewelry. But if you want to wear platinum while pumping iron, you should heed a few practical guidelines.

“I WEAR EVERYTHING to work out," said Dr. Jaime Knopman, a Manhattan reproductive endocrinologist, describing her jewelry strategy for morning group workouts and  private training sessions at the Limit, a high-end studio. 

By “everything" she means a haul of gold and precious stones:  a pair of diamond studs plus two additional Foundrae fob earrings in her left ear; an emerald pendant and a gold chain necklace; a stack of five gold, diamond, and ruby bracelets; and, on her fingers, four  gold and diamond bands plus a Spinelli  Kilcollin ring.

Other women are also accessorizing for the gym with the kind of fine jewelry once reserved for special occasions. At some New York and Los Angeles fitness studios, diamonds are becoming as common as Alo Yoga matching sets. 

Check your alignment against the woman on the reformer next to you at Pilates and she may well be sporting Cartier Love bracelets stacked up to her elbow a la Iris Apfel’s bangles.

“Clients always have a new shiny piece that they add to their stacks," said Liana Levi, an instructor who runs five Forma Pilates studios in L.A. and New York. “Every person is wearing jewelry in class," reported Krissy Jones, founder of the New York yoga studio Sky Ting. “In down dogs, it’s just rings, rings, rings, rings."

Since everyone’s in all-black—pants or leggings and a workout top—jewelry lets women project a more individual style at the gym. Wearing fine jewelry while exercising brings everyday glam to the studio. 

“I wear my body chains and my ‘everyday Jacquies’ during my Pilates workout," said L.A. choreographer Eboni Nichols, referring to three anklets, three bracelets and two necklaces by Jacquie Aiche, all in gold and diamonds. “These are pieces I never take off."

To some, this trend is a real head scratcher. But even if you want to try lifting weights while wearing carats, you might wonder what pieces are safe to sweat in—for you and for the jewelry. What styles might catch on a reformer Pilates machine; what shouldn’t interact with perspiration?

At the Soho store that jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher opened in 2022, customers often pose those exact questions. “We have people that are like, ‘I’m not going to take this off when I go to Tracy Anderson,’" she said, referring to a global chain of  fitness studios. 

She steers such women toward fine jewelry over fashion jewelry, explaining that water-resilient precious metals are naturally safe to sweat and shower in, while materials like plated brass can more easily tarnish and corrode.

Consider the equipment you’ll use in class, Fisher says. For her own sessions at Flatiron Pilates, Fisher avoids dangly earrings that could get caught in springs, opting instead for the smallest size of her signature huggie hoops, called the Lilly, or ear cuffs that snugly hug the lobe. 

As long as they fit tightly, most bracelets and rings present few problems, though she’d avoid rings for strength training or any activity where you need to pick things up or grab onto something.

She also recommends avoiding multi-charm necklaces, instead opting for necklaces with a shorter 15- to 17-inch chain and at most one small pendant. “You don’t want something that’s going to hit you in the face when you’re bending over," Fisher said.

The strength of a jewelry piece’s clasp is the main criterion for Beth Nicely, founder of the Limit, a vigorous workout program that combines box jumping and dance cardio with strength training and toning. 

She favors sturdier items like gold herringbone and diamond tennis necklaces from Anita Ko. “It sounds so funny to be like, ‘It’s a really good brand to wear when you work out,’ but it’s the truth," she says. “The hardware is not going to fall off."

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