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Quick Guide To Jewellery Styles Across The Eras

Jewellery — timeless, elegant, and alluring. A form of art that has transcended time by captivating minds and hearts (mine included) for literally millennia. Each era has brought forth unique jewellery styles, reflecting the societal, artistic, and cultural influences of its time.

Vintage pearl rings on woman's fingers.
YazJewels Vintage 18ct Gold Pearl Ring with Mabé Pearl and Diamonds (worn on index finger)

And if you’re as passionate about vintage and antique jewellery as I am, then you know how it feels to step into a world where every piece tells a story of its own. A tale of opulence, romance, rebellion, and artistic expression that has shined and sparkled across the ages. 

So join me on this quick journey through history as we explore the dazzling and diverse jewellery design periods that have shaped the way we adorn ourselves.

Victorian Jewellery (1837-1901) - Stepping Into an Era of Opulence and Grandeur

The Victorian era was an enchanting time, characterised by romance and sentimentality. Jewellery of this period perfectly captured the emotions of love and affection, with each jewel crafted to express profound sentiments. Some Victorian jewellery pieces boasted elaborate filigree work, a delicate metalwork technique that added a sense of grace and elegance.

YazJewels gold and turquoise brooch from Victorian jewellery styles
YazJewels Victorian 14ct Gold Brooch/Pendant with Turquoise Cabochons
YazJewels Victorian starburst brooch to pendant to hairpin in original case.
YazJewels Victorian Starburst Brooch to Pendant/Hairpin Converter in Original Case

The use of precious stones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires added an extra touch of luxury and splendour. Queen Victoria’s love for jewellery and fashion largely influenced the time’s jewellery styles — for example, the popularity of heart, flower, and snake motifs. Hearts symbolised love, flowers represented natural beauty, and snakes conveyed eternal love and wisdom. Secret compartments and acrostic, mourning, and hair jewellery were also widespread.

Belle Époque Jewellery (1871-1914) - A Celebration of Elegance and Lightness

Step into the graceful world of Belle Époque-era jewellery, a time of elegance and luxury. Also known as the Edwardian or the Gilded Age, this period was all about the French bourgeoisie and nouveau riche. Notorious Parisian courtesans dictated the era’s jewellery styles, later replaced by the stars of the then-emerging Hollywood scene. Designers used precious stones like emeralds and sapphires coupled with precious metals like platinum to craft spectacular jewels, such as the “garland” style necklaces.

Woman wearing Belle Epoque jewellery styles
Belle Époque dog collar jewellery styles

Imagine delicate, lightweight designs adorned with pearls and diamonds to create an ethereal dance of light and grace. Motifs like bows and ribbons often followed these exquisite pieces, whispering tales of femininity and romance. Crafted with extreme attention to detail, Belle Époque jewellery pieces embraced the lightness of being, reflecting a golden era of charm and refinement. 

Art Nouveau Jewellery (1895-1910) - Embracing Nature's Artistic Expressions

The Art Nouveau movement marked a radical departure from the ornate jewellery styles of the Victorian era. Instead, it embraced artistic expression and the beauty of nature’s organic forms, breaking free from the constraints of traditional design and challenging the ever-growing mass production. Visionary artist and jeweller René Lalique played a crucial role in popularising and turning this artistic revolution into the iconic jewellery era we recognise today.

Antique Brooch/Pendant With 14ct Gold And Diamond Lady Portrait
YazJewels Art Nouveau Brooch with 14ct Gold and Diamond Lady Portrait
Antique Art Nouveau Brooch/Pendant worn on modern woman's neck
The brooch can also be worn as a pendant.

Soft, mystical, and romantic themes, along with flowing lines and pale or muted colours, embody the essence of Art Nouveau jewellery design. The female form and nature-inspired motifs — especially dragonflies and butterflies — were central to the short-lived period’s thematic repertoire. Art Nouveau also introduced unusual materials such as glass and horn, as well as innovative enamelling techniques like the plique-à-jour and basse-taille.

Art Deco Jewellery (1925-1935) - The Roaring Twenties Meet Geometric Elegance

The exuberant Art Deco jewellery era was a celebration of life and optimism, emerging after the darkness of World War I. Bold, glamorous, and geometric designs defined this period, reflecting the post-war spirit of the Roaring Twenties. Jewellery styles called for perfect symmetry, straight lines, and contrasting gemstones in vibrant colours — the perfect recipe for creating a striking visual appeal.

YazJewels Art Deco Necklace
YazJewels Art Deco Platinum Necklace with Diamonds and Rock Quartz Crystal
Art Deco diamond engagement ring
YazJewels Art Deco 14ct Gold and Diamond Openwork Ring

The aesthetics of Art Deco draw inspiration from diverse influences, ranging from the time’s industrial progress to the lively rhythms of Jazz music. Egyptian hieroglyphs and Cubism also left indelible marks on this classic 20th-century jewellery style. Other common features of Art Deco jewellery design include the use of the mystery setting, synthetic materials, and radiant precious metals like platinum, white gold, and sterling silver.

Retro Jewellery (1930s-1950s) - Glamour Amidst Wartime Limitations

The Retro jewellery era emerged as a response to the challenges of World War II, symbolising hope and optimism in the face of adversity. Nostalgia played a significant role in Retro designs, harking back to earlier periods but letting go of the 1920s extravagance. Classic Hollywood glamour influenced the creation of statement jewellery pieces adorned with large precious stones and bold colours.

YazJewels Retro Tank Bracelet in 18ct Gold
YazJewels Retro Tank Bracelet in 18ct Gold
YazJewels Italian hinged earrings of the Retro jewellery styles in 14ct gold and diamonds
YazJewels Italian Hinged Retro Earrings Stylised in 14ct Gold and Diamonds

During this period, gold and pearls took centre stage, adding that timeless touch of elegance to Retro jewellery styles. However, for the majority of women who couldn’t afford genuine gold jewellery, a wide range of costume pieces expertly crafted from inexpensive materials became widely available. Also popular during this period were convertible jewels, parures, and patriotic motifs.

Modern Jewellery (1960s-1970s) - Rebellion Against Tradition

The Modern era saw a liberation in design, giving rise to more individualistic and avant-garde jewellery styles. Designers embraced experimentation, incorporating unconventional materials like plastic and alternative metals. Jewellery pieces inspired by the time’s hippie and counterculture movements celebrated simplicity and free form, reflecting the changing societal norms and values.

YazJewels Vintage 1960s Glass Ball Drop Earrings
YazJewels Vintage 1960s Glass Ball Drop Earrings
YazJewels cocktail 14ct gold coral ring from 1960s-1970s jewellery styles
YazJewels Vintage Cocktail Ring with Coral Cabochon in 14ct Gold from the 1960s-1970s

Influential Hollywood figures, the Kennedys, and the vibrant 1970s disco scene all left their mark on Modern jewellery trends. The Space Age’s cosmic motifs and second-wave feminism also played a significant role in shaping the era’s loud designs. During this period, pioneering designers like Elsa Peretti and Yves Saint Laurent pushed the boundaries of jewellery design, leaving a lasting impact on the industry.

Contemporary Jewellery (1980s-Present) - A Canvas for Self-Expression

The Contemporary era celebrates individuality, with different types of jewellery styles that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. In the bold and vibrant 1980s, neon colours and a culture of excess gave rise to the power-dressing code, fueling a demand for flashy costume gold jewellery. Popstars like Madonna and young royalty like Princess Diana had a tremendous influence over the period’s jewellery trends. As the 1990s dawned, minimalism took centre stage, embracing simplicity and clean lines.

YazJewels Contemporary 18ct Gold Cocktail Ring with Blue Sapphire Cabochons
YazJewels angel wing earrings of contemporary jewellery styles
YazJewels Estate Angel Wing Earrings in 18ct White Gold with Pavé Diamonds

Modern jewellery became a canvas for self-expression, allowing individuals to personalise their looks with original styles like grunge or R&B. The era also saw a surge in the use of non-traditional materials such as titanium and recycled metals, reflecting an eco-conscious approach to jewellery design. In response to growing environmental concerns, designers have started embracing more sustainable practices, ensuring that beauty doesn’t come at the cost of the planet. And adopting the circular economy concept, vintage jewellery stands as the original form of recycling.

After all, what is vintage but an ongoing expression of sustainability?

Timeless Treasures: Reviving Past Jewellery Styles Today

Our quick journey through the different styles of jewellery periods reveals the captivating evolution of this exquisite art form. From Victorian romance to contemporary individuality, jewellery has reflected the ever-changing facets of human creativity. It also remains an enduring form of self-expression that resonates with people across generations. So, whether you’re drawn to the grandeur of the Victorian period or the sleek minimalism of modern design, explore the timeless jewellery styles of eras past and find the one that speaks to your soul. 

YazJewels open butterfly ring dated from contemporary jewellery styles.
YazJewels Contemporary Open Butterfly Ring in Blue Titanium with Diamonds

Why settle for ordinary when you can own extraordinary? Step into a mesmerising world of vintage and antique jewellery, where each piece carries a unique story. You see, collecting period jewellery not only lets you express your individuality but also allows you to be a custodian of historic craftsmanship. So why not embrace the ageless artistry of the past and embark on a thrilling journey of collecting one-of-a-kind treasures that have stood the test of time? After all, these timeless jewels are more than just accessories; they’re gateways to a bygone era filled with charm and elegance.

YazJewels Double-Strand Black Onyx Beaded Necklace
YazJewels Contemporary Double-Strand Black Onyx Beaded Necklace with 18ct Gold Clasp
Woman wearing a vintage double-strand black onyx beaded necklace

Come explore the dazzling world of YazJewels, and start your own collection of vintage and antique jewellery today! Step back in time, unleash your inner connoisseur, and let the jewellery styles of the past breathe new life into your fashion identity. 

Begin your journey now at YazJewels — where elegance meets history.

Shine on,  

Yaz X

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