History of Jewelry

Victorian Period c 1837 - 1901

The reign of Queen Victoria brought an overall feeling of prosperity and peace as well as a new role model for women. Economic growth heightened the interest and desire for jewelry so with the increased demand, goldsmiths reveled in experimenting with gold. Also, the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1867 made diamonds much more accessible and attainable. Because jewelry quickly became an "accessory" rather than just a symbol of wealth, semi-precious stones such as garnet, coral, amethyst, turquoise, opals and pearls also made jewelry affordable and commercial.

Edwardian c 1901 - 1915

With the boom of the automobile, airplane and movie industries, new wealth flowed amongst the upper and middle classes. The metal color of choice during this period of luxury was white, making platinum popular. Platinum was valued for its strength and allowed for the more delicate, intricate and lacy patterns favored during this period. White gold was also widely used and became the substitute for platinum as the more affordable of the two metals, especially during W.W.I.  Filigree in decorative motifs such as flowers, bows, ribbons, tassels and swags depicted the refined elegance and luxury of this era.

Art Nouveau c 1890 - 1919

Turn of the century uncertainty created a sense of mystery and fantasy that was reflected in design. Although much more noticeable in architecture, furniture and textile design, this period resulted in a new approach to jewelry as well, highlighting the designers creativity rather than the value of materials used. The emphasis on femininity and the female form prevailed and nature motifs proliferated. International influences, particularly from Asian cultures, emerged in jewelry as well. Enamel, glass and semi-precious stones like moonstone and opal also featured strongly during this period.

Art Deco c 1920 - 1935

An era of decadence brought with it the footloose era known as "The Roaring Twenties." The discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922 brought forth Egyptian influences with motifs like the scarab, sphinx and falcon. Eastern influences continued to be strong and were evident with the use of jade, coral and ivory. A massive economic downturn, "The Great Depression," was brought on by the crash of the stock market in 1929.  This dramatic shakeup resulted in a new period of transformation that was evident in every aspect of life and society.  A craving for modernity popularized new, geometric cuts that were developed giving gems a distinct look - the Baguette, Emerald, French cut, Triangle and the Shield cut became widely used. With Cubism dictating symmetry and geometry, jewelry takes on a new more streamlined look. The new boyish silhouette was all the rage and was accessorized with long earrings, diamond watches, pearls, beads, and cocktail rings accented with colored stones such as emeralds, sapphires and rubies.

Retro c 1935 - 1950

The glamour of Hollywood had a huge influence on jewelry throughout the thirties and forties. Larger cluster rings, bracelets, watches and necklaces took on new, bold proportions. Wartime restrictions brought popularity to yellow gold again as the use of platinum was limited. Synthetic stones like rubies and sapphires were widely used as they were affordable, largely available and exempt from luxury taxes. Citrine and aquamarine stones were also frequently featured in jewelry of this period, especially in larger, rectangular cuts. Retro jewelry also often combined gold alloys creating yellow, rose and green tones in the metal.

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