Civilization has been making and wearing jewelry for thousands of years. In fact, the oldest piece of jewelry every found was 75,000 years old, it was a seashell necklace.. People still love wearing jewelry today. At points in history, jewelry was a symbol of status, to some it still is, but most often, it reflects our style, our personality and can often have important meaning or sentimental value.
There have been many different styles of jewellery that have risen in popularity over the years, many them still inspire jewellery makers today. Five of the most influential historical jewellery style are:
Arts & Crafts (1890-1910)
Characterised by it’s rejection of modern design methods and the return to hand made items, arts and crafts jewellery was generally simple and functional (but still nice to look at). Most of the jewellery pieces used inexpensive stones and metals to create and accessible collection, so you won’t be finding diamond engagement rings and platinum chokers.
Art Nouveau (1890-1910)
Art Nouveau jewellery is responsible for influencing so many of today’s jewellery styles. The style was feminine and elegant, often using flours, animals and elegant finishes. The cean feminine lines were a departure from the ften angular jewellery design that had become common.
Art Deco (1915-1935)
Spurred on by the advancements of machine technology, the Art Deco movement celebrated strong geometric and cubist designs and ornate pieces. It still symbolizes luxury and glamour to this day. Popular art deco jewellery included jeweled necklaces and elaborate earrings.
This style of jewellery was named after the British Queen, Victoria, who reigned from 1837-1901. There are many styles that fall under this era including the romantic, grand and aesthetic. This is why the range of styles that fall under the Victorian era are so broad. Jewellery makers at the time took their inspiration from a variety of periods including Greek, Roman, Gothic and Renaissance. The style also extended to other accessories such as hair combs, tiaras and brooches.
Jewellery pieces were elaborate and featured precious metals and stones. After the death of Prince Albert, the Queen’s husband, mourning jewellery became popular. Victorias’s devotion to Christianity meant that many religious style jewellery was made also.
Jewellery making in this era was designed to contrast the understated fashion that became necessary during World War II. The style was big and bold and used inexpensive stones because people just couldn’t afford anything else.
In today’s world, we have the luxury of mixing and matching styles from different eras and cultures. Anything goes. These styles heavily influenced jewellery making for decades and still provide inspiration to jewellery makers today.
Perhaps you are a collector of vintage jewellery, or are lucky enough to have inherited some of these beautiful pieces. These kinds of jewellery often get passed down through families.. Take care of them, they represent the history of jewellery design and will hopefully be delighting and inspiring others for decades to come.