Vintage and Antique Jewelry Periods
With the incredible popularity circling shows like Downton Abbey , we’ve decided to take a look at the various jewelry movements of the past two and a half centuries. This is when we get most of our jewelry (go further back and it probably belongs in a museum), so you should learn a bit about each jewelry period as you peruse our collection!
The Georgian period is named after the four successive English kings: George I, George II, George III and George IV, and it spans from the second half of 18th century to part of the 19th century. The diamonds in this fashion were primarily of the basic rose and old miner cuts. In addition, we saw a lot of stone settings using a closed back to hide silver foil underneath and give the piece greater – and artificial – brilliance. It is important to note that the Georgian period keeps rising in popularity and continues to be quite rare, no doubt due to the fact that it dates back a few centuries! Unfortunately we currently have no such piece in our collection… sniff.
Jewelry produced during the reign of Queen Victoria of England goes by the… well... Victorian moniker. Pieces from this period tend to be highly emotional, moving through joy, happiness to sadness and despair effortlessly. It therefore comes as no surprise that mourning rings were a very common occurrence back then. Yellow gold, rose gold, enamel, silver and diamonds were plentiful back then, and the jewelry styles so abundant professionals usually must divide the era into three: early Victorian, mid-Victorian and late Victorian.
Art Nouveau (1895-1910)
A short era perhaps, but one that must be given special attention. Motifs typical of the time, and currently very much gaining in popularity, were flowers, dragon flies, free flowing lines, birds and pastel colored enamels. It was back then that enamel pins and brooches were first used with gemstones such as amber, agate opals and garnets. As a direct result diamonds also became less popular.
Belle Epoque (1871-1914)
Overlapping the Edwardian and Victorian era in England and the rest of the English world, this period was their equivalent – though set in France and, to a lesser extent, other latin countries, We see for the first time the mass addition of platinum and pearls in jewelry, as well as the reintroduction of garlands, foliate motifs, lace and bows that were prevalent during the 18th century French royal court. Workmanship is open, delicate and free.
While at the time diamonds once again became popular, this era also saw the use of amethysts, peridots, demantoid garnets, aquamarines, opals and pearls rise tremendously. We tend to see the jewelry of this period as light and airy, undoubtedly due to the fact that filigree workmanship gained in popularity with beautiful and intricately detailed designs.
Art Deco (1915-1938)
Art Deco jewelry can be categorized as bold, sharp and modernistic. For the first time, western jewelers were introduced to such incredible and pure gemstones as Kashmir Sapphires, Burma Rubies and Colombian Muzo emeralds. During that time, platinum also continued its rise in popularity, while geometric shapes, futuristic motifs and the bold combination of colors and abstract patterns became standard. The leading jewelry designing powerhouses of today, such as Cartier and Boucheron, all made their name during this era.
Retro jewelry was produced in the 1940's and early 1950's. When we think of the Retro period we think of old Hollywood and all its glamour. We are introduced to rubies, amethysts, aquamarine, sapphires, diamonds and multi colored precious stones. It is worth noting that clips and brooches became very popular during this time as well.
Mid Century (1950-1970)
Here we start to see the great return of platinum and diamond. In addition, the big jewelers Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier and Tiffany are all suddenly very popular again. Extravagant pieces are created with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls. The design itself changes and becomes more open and curved with very feminine motifs. Gaining popularity is also a suite of matching sets on a much grander scale. It is also Hollywood's golden age which is why this period is often referred to as the "Fabulous Fifties."