Don’t search for heart-shaped rings on the internet. It leads you to a series of failed celebrity romances and presumably to a trail of tears: Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill.
As a design element, the heart is more like dots or stripes than it is a visual shorthand for romantic love. If you want romance, try lace or oysters or dead-stock midcentury Valentine’s Day cards or inside jokes engraved on the back of a Swiss-made watch.
Hearts can feel bold and fresh: Think the boxy black Supreme shirt with red heart prints that Timothée Chalamet wore on a late-night talk show several years ago. (If that fact excites you, follow @readytimmywear on Instagram.) Another way to wear your heart on your sleeve would be a Nirvana “Heart-Shaped Box” allover print tee, recently going for four digits on Etsy.
To add just a little heart to your life, try a Deborah Pagani heart-shaped hair pin for Gucci Westman or a Blumarine belt with a heart-shaped buckle. Loewe has sunglasses with heart-shaped lenses, and like everything Jonathan Anderson designs, they’re surreal enough that you can feel safe that no one will mistake you for paying homage to Kubrick’s “Lolita.” You might try to track down some of Chanel’s chunkier costume jewelry with hearts. On the RealReal, you can find things like a red Chanel blouse with a black bow and a quilted heart from the Karl Lagerfeld years.
Even if you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, here are some hearts for the romantics and pragmatists alike.
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Tiffany & Company
Hearts can lean a little bit cutesy, even skewing twee. If you’d rather die alone than give someone a candy heart, or are the kind of person who hates anything sweet (literal or figurative), try this jade pendant with an 18-karat gold mesh chain from the Elsa Peretti Open Heart collection for Tiffany. It’s sexy and just a tad louche. The fresh green of the jade contrasts so well with the slinky 28-inch chain. Wear it with a beat-up vintage denim shirt buttoned so low even Bernard-Henri Lévy would blush. ($4,900)
Remember when Rihanna wore that Yves Saint Laurent heart-shaped fur in 2016? Or maybe you bought the Erin Fetherston for Target heart-shaped bag in 2007? I was just doing some shopping reconnaissance and came across Alaïa’s Le Cœur bag. It’s small enough not to look gimmicky, but large enough to actually carry necessities. The shade of red is the right balance of cool and warm. Or you might consider a less obvious gold or blue one that comes on a gold chain. (from $1,170)
Yves Saint Laurent
No one understood the use of hearts as a design tool like Yves Saint Laurent, who drew them a little asymmetrical and off kilter. Re-See, the Paris-based designer resale site, has the best selection around, particularly the jewelry Robert Goossens designed for YSL. While you’re browsing, there’s a gold heart brooch with “Yves Saint Laurent” printed on it in script — brooches are about to get big again — that would look great on a man. But the coolest present would be a poster from 1989, said to be “from the private collection of one of Saint Laurent’s most loyal collaborators.” Bonus: It’s framed. (2,100 euros, or about $2,300)
Stellene Volandes, the editor in chief of Town & Country, who knows a lot about jewelry, said she was “a heart-jewelry skeptic for years” but is now drawn to them, pointing to lines like Foundrae and Briony Raymond. In that same vein, the jeweler Stephen Dweck, who used to design for Geoffrey Beene, makes the most decadent pair of earrings. You know when people ask you what your love language is? Here’s mine: “Pink Tourmaline, Conch Shell and Diamond Earrings in 18K Gold.” ($28,865)
A hood made of linked metal hearts looks like something you’d see in the armor section of the Met, but also like something the model Pat Cleveland would have worn to a club in the 1970s. (€650, or about $700)
Hearts were big in the late 1980s, with bold, unapologetically big jewelry from Christian Lacroix or Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent. Natasha Ghosn, the designer of the Los Angeles jewelry-fragrance-candle line Mondo Mondo, may be the real heir to that aesthetic. So it’s not surprising that she has a lot of heart motifs. This necklace looks like a piece of jewelry a scorned woman in a Jackie Collins novel would have ripped off her neck and thrown out a window after being betrayed by her man. It comes in silver and gold plate, but the silver feels a little less obvious and little more tender. ($250)