Diamonds Through the Decades: Jewellery Trends and Styles
The world of jewellery has experienced a vast amount of changes over the last 100 years, with styles and trends going in and out of fashion every few years. As ever, there’s some timeless styles, including pearls, that remain consistent as an effortlessly elegant option for every occasion. Here at Susannah Lovis, we find it fascinating to explore what was popular when, as well as the cultural, social or political reasons behind shift in styles in relation to historical context. Read on to discover the different styles of jewellery that have shifted in and out of style over the last century by decade, and perhaps it will give you an idea for future trends!
Trends of each period is usually defined and created across all forms of art and culture, including graphics, fashion and architecture. The 1920s is often referred to as ‘roaring’ and was mainly inspired by Art Deco, which you can learn more about with our recent blog, Understanding the Art Deco Era. The rejection of Victorian ideals meant that women could now vote, smoke and drink and this prosperity led to various characteristics that inspire the jewellery at the time, including vibrant colours, symmetrical designs, influences from nature and theatrical contrasts.
During the 1930s societies experienced the great depression, and it was this social influence that led to the increasing popularity of costume jewellery. In the absence of materials, resources and excess wealth, simple styles with bold colours and less precious stones made up much of the styles of the time. That said, the rarity of genuinely precious stones only furthered their significance in society, and jewellery was one of the most prevalent indicators of class.
A glitzy period that dazzled despite the on-going shadow of war, notably De Beers Diamond Company began their ad campaign “A Diamond if Forever” during this time. In what was arguably one of the most influential campaigns in the world of jewellery, women in the USA began to feel that a diamond engagement ring was a necessity. Women in Hollywood were bejewelled with dazzling diamonds and necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings were becoming more extravagant, bold and statement. These ornaments often used precious stones and pearls alongside diamonds to create a unique blend, the likes of which make up many of the more experimental vintage jewellery collections today.
As the world began to bounce back from the lasting effects of war, a new wealth began to establish itself. The fashion industry was more liberal than ever, and classic and classy style choices were the optimum of sophistication. As anyone who lived during this time can attest, brooches were a staple part of everyday fashion, and pearls were as popular as ever. This period focused on all things feminine, and elegant jewellery collections were sought after by every woman, while men adorned cufflinks with their suits for both formal and business wear.
The sixties were all about functionality, with plastic jewellery rapidly increasing in popularity thanks to the varieties of shapes and colours available. The dramatic shift from elegant, sophisticated ornaments in the fifties to bold, colour jewellery making the go-to look shows the difference just 10 years can make when it comes to trends and styles. Handmade accessories, peace signs, psychedelic colours and flowered patterns also prevailed during this time, perhaps in reflection of the so-called “hippie era” that struck a chord with the younger generations at the time. Layered necklaces, bangles and stacked rings were all popular in the sixties.
The bold, colourful approach to jewels swept into the next decade but the attitude was toned down with a lean towards darker colours. Beaded jewellery was introduced to mainstream fashion, with many opting for a “go hard or go home” look that was arguably ahead of its time. Large gold earrings invaded runways and people began to mix it up when it came to materials. Hemp, leather and different kinds of metals were all used in conjunction with each other to create a truly unique style that continues to be adopted for those wishing to make a statement in the 21st-century.
The eighties can easily be explained with just three words; big and beautiful. From larger-than-life hairstyles adorned with accessories to overstated items of clothing, the bigger the better when it came to all things fashion. In terms of jewellery, this was the first time people began to clash styles and trends on purpose, in attempt to personalise their jewellery choices and create their own unique style. Matching jewellery sets were few and far between, and any elegant, simplistic necklaces that had survived the previous two decades were well and truly replaced with oversized gems, beads and metals. This era also saw a rise in oversized cocktail rings, a trend that remains cemented in society today for a truly vintage aesthetic.
The nineties saw various trends come and go, but probably the most notable is the introduction of chokers. A versatile accessory that could be worn both by the royal family and a punk rock band, the smaller-style necklace got a thumbs up from nearly everyone, and remains in many jewellery boxes today, be it for style or sentimental reasons. Ankle bracelets and toe rings were not the comfiest of items to wear but proved an innovative new way to wear jewellery.
The 2000s and beyond
This brings us to today. Strangely, we now live in a time where all the aforementioned trends in this blog are at the forefront of fashion styles under the term, vintage. Be it the economic value of vintage jewels, the romantic notion of its past beholders or the ever-prevalent desire to be unique, antique and vintage jewellery has never been so popular. In the last few years, we’ve experienced ear cuffs making waves in the field of fashion jewellery while chokers made a huge comeback and remain in highstreets and high-end jewellers today.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through time, and that it has given you some insight into the range of styles and trends that society has experienced over the last one hundred years. If you’d like to buy an Art Deco treasure for yourself or know someone that is deserving of some Art Deco cufflinks for a special occasion, don’t hesitate to browse our extensive range of antique jewellery online today!