Thursday, November 15, 2012

A history trip down Jewelry Lane

To all of you jewelry lovers, you may know that kind of necklace you’re holding, what era is it from, but do you know the back stories? Materials and design were not whimsical, they had a reason, or at least a trend to respond to. As far as jewelry styles, here’s a little history.

The name refers to Queen Victoria and it ranges for about 60 years (1837-1901) which is how long she was in her throne for. It consists of three periods:
Early Victorian was when the Queen had just gotten married and was deeply in love. To celebrate this, jewelry was very romantic and included such items as lockets and stones that spelled Dearest. Each letter would represent a stone: Diamonds, Emeralds, Amethyst, etc. Also popular were snake rings and bracelets for they represented faithfulness in love. Engagement rings had gemstone instead of diamonds.
Mid Victorian was after Albert’s unfortunate death in which Victoria spent 40 years mourning. Jewelry was essentially bracelets, necklaces and brooches, all black or dark materials.
Late Victorian has more variety in colored stones. Mainly with gold, bangle bracelets were popular.
Even though the prince himself did not wear the jewelry, it is referred to his name and not to Alexandria who made it popular between 1901 and 1919. Pearl dog collar chockers necklaces were very popular. Bangle bracelets were still popular now with lions figures with stones in their eyes and mouths.
Art Noveau
It originated in France and developed around the same time as Edwardian. It was made popular by young beautiful women with long hair that would wear rings, brooches and lockets that represented foliage, vines and flowers.
Arts and Crafts
Also around Edwardian and Art Noveau, this style represents its name. Jewelry was much simpler, it included pieces made of plain hammered silver and wooden beads that imitated nature.

Art Deco
The period between 1920 and 1939 was a revolutionary era in many ways. A lot like architecture and decoration, jewelry took rhinestones and set them in geometric patterns, but not for that less flowing.
During the first part of this period rhinestones were clear or white, but then multicolored stones were used. It was a strong era for women because of their right to vote, so they allowed themselves to wear more “scandalous” styles, including jewelry.  Plastic jewelry also became popular.
During the 1940s and out of necessity, retro jewelry was born. Since most metals were used in war to make weapons, jewelers had to go back to the classic: gold. They were simple pieces, large amounts of gold with just one stone. Rhinestones were not easy to obtain since they were imported from Germany.  

When the war was over, the rhinestones came home along with the soldiers. The US was helping former enemies recover so Japan produced a lot of pearls and Germany exported glass beads.

The beginning of the decade had a more conservative flow to it. Sets of matching gold necklaces, earrings and bracelets were popular. But by the late sixties, around the revolution (every revolution!) long necklaces made of beads were popular too, similar to the Arts and Crafts style.

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