What does boho mean in jewellery?

Posted by Stacey Hodkinson on

What does boho jewellery look like to you? Sure, it is layered necklaces and stacked rings but there is much more behind the surface of the look than first appears. Join us as we explore the definition of boho, it's interesting and varied history and what boho jewellery means to us.

What is the history of boho?

The abbreviation boho comes from ‘Bohemian’, a derogatory term given to Roma gypsies by the French people, thought to have begun in Bohemia, central Europe. Boho is the adjective now used in place of Bohemian. It describes someone with a nomadic lifestyle and appearance that exists on the fringe of society. 

A certain time period is associated with Bohemianism. In the 1800s, political and social change was rife. With the recent shake ups of the 1798 United Irish rebellion and the boom of the industrial revolution, many French creatives were becoming increasingly disenfranchised and frustrated with the class system dictated by the bourgeois who denied their right to earn money through their trades.

This came to a head when rising 19th century French poet and writer Victor Hugo’s play ‘Hernani’ was prohibited from being performed at an auditorium. What followed was the Romantic Movement, giving a face and voice to the Bohemianism shift. A huge mass of unconventionally and outlandishly dressed artists and creatives flooded the auditorium on opening night causing an unsavoury view for when the bourgeois arrived to see the play. Despite protests, Hugo performed the play successfully for months.

Naturally, this very vocal and visual statement resulted in a widespread influence of Bohemianism across France, Europe and many other parts of the world until the end of the 1800s. However, it did not die with artists such as Van Gogh and writers like Jack Kerouac keeping the ideologies of the philosophy alive.

What does boho mean? 

A Bohemian is an individualist. They are often creative people such as an artist, poet or performer and do not abide by societal norms. Being bohemian is a lifestyle, a worldly approach, a political stance and a form of rebellion. It is about transience, individuality, creativity and self expression.

The word boho when used in the media has shifted focus slightly to fashion, interior design and personal style. You can design your flat in a boho-chic style, style your hair, or have a boho style wedding. The connotations of individualism, free thinking and nomadism are still there and a modern ethnic and sustainable edge now features too.

Photo by lucas mendes on Unsplash

What is the modern boho look?

The bohemian style resurfaced in modern day boho fashion during festivals in the noughties with famous faces such as Sienna Miller and Kate Moss leading the look. This time, boho was a way to talk about styling, from tousled hair to long flowy dresses, layered clothing and nature-inspired patterns. With a nod to the 60s and 70s hippie style, the look involved leather tasseled bags, gladiator sandals, easy to wear baggy layers and an effortless vintage appearance.

What is boho jewellery?

Boho jewellery is free spirited, earthy and rooted in nature. It often involves the stacking of rings or bangles, layered necklaces, stud earrings or long earrings. The emphasis is on ease-of-wear, natural materials and natural colours. Designs (such as engravings of feathers, animals or plants) are frequent. Check out Aquila’s hand carved Halong Bay sunburst pendant as an example.

The look sees contrasts of statement pieces such as the Kerala ring with minimal precious metal pieces like the beautiful boho-inspired jewellery collection Agonda. Metals are mixed and whilst some are only gold or silver, the more chunky tribal cuffs and chokers contain large gemstones of all colours, ceramic shells and other natural materials. 

Boho jewellery is connected to all the nature around us and to those who love to experience travel. As a result anklets, belly chains and ear cuffs are commonly found with the look too. 


Types of boho jewellery

From fashion led high street designs to luxury designer jewellery, it’s incredible just how many boho style jewellery brands there are in the UK and beyond. 

Below are the categories they can be classified by:

High street

A majority of cheap boho jewellery can be found in UK high street shops. It is trend and fashion driven with cheap prices and inexpensive metals. Items are usually engraved gold or silver plated rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. The fashion styles come from iconography, graphics, shapes, and phrases associated with whatever is trending. Come summer, during the festival months, the trend is often boho. High street chains allow for affordable, seasonal jewellery. An example of this is New Look.


Jewellery wholesalers in the UK buy boho inspired jewellery in bulk. They get a large discount for buying in bulk by the manufacturer. A lot of the time they import boho jewellery from India and other countries. These jewellery items are often statement pieces, oversized rings and necklaces with gemstones, beads and precious metals. The price point is higher than the high street counterparts. An example of this is boho-betty

Luxury Jewellery Designers

This jewellery is made from top of the range precious metals of the highest calibre, expensive gemstones and crafted in their own workshops. They may work in crystals, ceramic and animal materials. The price point for designer jewellery is considerably higher than other jewellery on the market. Such jewellery also maintains a fairly good resale price due to the brand name. An example of this is Chloe

Independent brands

Such brands sell individual jewellery pieces that are usually designed and made by the owners or designed by the owner and made by silversmiths or goldsmiths abroad. They are not made in factories. Brands like these take inspiration from themes such as sustainability, the exploration of the world and natural materials. Due to being crafted by hand each item is ever so slightly different. High quality metals are used such as 925 sterling silver. An example is Aquila Jewellery.

How is Aquila boho?

Our handmade high quality jewellery is boho in essence. Each piece from our range has a special meaning through its connection to a magical location somewhere on this beautiful planet. In a sense, each piece signifies a moment of freedom and a lifetime of not being tied to one path - there are so many paths to explore.

But, while travel is a strong theme for us, our boho inspired jewellery isn’t only about exploring the globe. It’s a tribute to that moment when we escaped the daily grind, we stripped back what we needed to one bag and we just wandered. And that can be anywhere. An open ended flight. A road trip. A walk to the forest. For us, our mixed metal, gold or silver boho jewellery is infused with a thinking that appreciates the little things and looks for the wonderment in life.

We love and wear our own items. They are not factory made, mass produced or fashion driven. We care about the planet and have a recycled metal pledge. Boho to us isn’t a template for our designs, it’s a feeling and a lifestyle.

All in all

Boho jewellery comes in a huge amount of forms. From fast and affordable, high cost and high quality to earthy and sustainable. It is a look that can be as much or as little as you want, as extravagant or as simple as you need. What it really comes down to is the person wearing it and their inner boho.

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