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Jewellery Styles by Decade: Trends Through the Ages

Jewellery Styles by Decade: Trends Through the Ages
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Throughout history, jewellery has remained a powerful expression of personal style, status, and cultural identity. Jewellery trends have evolved dramatically over centuries, reflecting cultural shifts, technological advancements, and artistic movements of specific jewellery designers.

This isn't just good news for the fashion-forward, but it also means that many of us are potentially sitting on a treasure trove of jewellery. From modern jewellery and cocktail rings to earrings, diamonds, and gold bangles, it's likely that you might have a variety of jewellery styles and designs from multiple eras simply gathering dust in a jewellery box. So, what kind of jewellery designs are typical of each era, and which are worth selling? Let's take a closer look.

Victorian Era Jewellery (1837-1901)

Victorian Era jewellery, spanning from 1837 to 1901, reflected Queen Victoria's reign and societal values. Intricate designs, often incorporating gemstones, pearls, and enamel, symbolised sentimentality and romance, while only the wealthiest of Victorians possessed gold jewellery. Mourning jewellery, featuring black onyx and jet, was prevalent. Despite the time that has passed, Victorian jewellery is still prevalent today.

Key Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Mourning jewellery
  • Cameo brooches
  • Lockets
  • Chatelaines

1910s-1920s: Art Nouveau and Art Deco Jewellery

The transition from the Victorian era to the 1910s-1920s marked a shift in jewellery design, moving from the ornate and sentimental Victorian style to the more geometric shapes and abstract aesthetics of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Art Nouveau embraced flowing lines and natural motifs, while Art Deco favoured bold geometric shapes and vibrant colours, reflecting the modernist spirit of the time. Art Nouveau, with its emphasis on organic forms and fluid lines, represented a departure from the rigid structures of the past. Inspired by nature, motifs such as flowers, vines, and insects adorned jewellery pieces, imbuing them with a sense of grace and elegance. Art Nouveau jewellery celebrated the beauty of asymmetry and sought to capture the essence of the natural world in its designs.

In contrast, the Art Deco movement embraced the sleek sophistication of modernity. Characterised by geometric shapes, sharp lines, and symmetrical patterns, Art Deco jewellery exuded a sense of glamour and opulence. Influenced by the technological advancements and cultural shifts of the era, Art Deco pieces often featured bold colour contrasts and striking combinations of materials such as platinum, diamonds, and colourful gemstones.

Key Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Art Nouveau floral motifs
  • Filigree rings
  • Long pendant necklaces
  • Art Deco geometric shapes and bold colours

1930s-1940s: Early Hollywood Glamour and World War II Era Jewellery

In the 1930s-1940s, jewellery design underwent a notable transformation influenced by both Early Hollywood Glamour and the backdrop of World War II. Yellow gold remained a popular choice for jewellery during this period, complementing the glamorous styles of Hollywood starlets and adding a touch of luxury to everyday wear.

Additionally, the De Beers diamond company played a significant role in creating the popularity of diamonds during this time, with their successful marketing campaigns promoting diamonds as symbols of love and commitment. This contributed to the widespread use of diamonds in jewellery, particularly engagement rings, further shaping the aesthetic of the era.

Metals such as platinum, gold, and silver were prominent, often crafted into elegant yet understated pieces reflecting the prevailing mood of austerity during wartime. Despite the challenges, jewellery continued to serve as a beacon of style and sophistication amidst adversity, blending elements of luxury with a sense of resilience and solidarity.

Key Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Statement cocktail rings
  • Rhinestone brooches
  • Utility jewellery made from alternative materials
  • Diamonds

1950s-1960s: Hollywood Icons, Pop and Op Art and Mod Era

1950s-1960s jewellery styles epitomised the eclectic mix of Hollywood glamour, Flower Power, the hippie movement, and the Mod movement, with jewellery becoming a canvas for expression, reflecting the era's dynamic cultural shifts and innovative spirit.

Influenced by iconic figures like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, jewellery became a symbol of elegance and sophistication. From dazzling diamonds that glittered on black and white screens to bold, colourful designs, this period encapsulated a fusion of classic glamour and avant-garde experimentation, mirroring the cultural shifts of the time including pop art and even space age influenced jewellery.

Key 1950s and 1960s Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Charm bracelets
  • Layered necklaces and bold colours
  • Bakelite jewellery
  • Bib necklaces
  • Yellow gold pieces

1970s-1980s: Flower Power, Bohemian and Glam Rock Jewellery

In the vibrant era of the 1970s-1980s, trends, and new jewellery styles were deeply influenced by the Bohemian and Glam Rock movements. Boho styles celebrated free-spiritedness with natural materials like leather, beads, and feathers, reflecting a love for nature and self-expression. Necklaces adorned with turquoise stones, macramรฉ bracelets, and layered beaded accessories became emblematic of the Boho aesthetic, capturing the essence of a carefree lifestyle.

Meanwhile, influenced by the flamboyant stage personas of musicians like David Bowie, Marc Bolan, and Freddie Mercury, Glam Rock jewellery embraced excess and theatricality. Chunky statement pieces adorned with crystals, rhinestones, and metallic accents became synonymous with the era's glitz and glamour. From oversized hoop earrings to elaborate choker necklaces, Glam Rock jewellery exuded confidence and extravagance, serving as a visual representation of the era's hedonistic ethos.

Key Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Long pendant necklaces with natural stones
  • Chunky oversized bangles and cuffs
  • Statement earrings
  • Punk-inspired spikes and chains
  • Oversized hoops

1990s-2000s: Minimalism and Bling Era Jewellery

In the dynamic period spanning the 1990s-2000s, jewellery designs experienced a fascinating dichotomy between Minimalism and the Bling Era. Minimalist styles favoured clean lines, understated elegance, and simplicity, reflecting a shift toward subtlety and sophistication.

Meanwhile, the Bling Era celebrated opulence and extravagance, with flashy, ostentatious designs adorned with diamonds and precious stones capturing attention. Additionally, the rise of celebrity culture significantly influenced jewellery trends, with prominent figures endorsing luxury brands and setting the stage for aspirational styles and brand affiliations.

Key Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Simple gold/silver stud earrings
  • Delicate chain necklaces
  • Oversized hoop earrings (for the Bling Era)
  • 2010s-Present: Sustainable and Personalised Jewellery

In the 2010s and continuing into the present day, jewellery styles have shifted towards sustainability and personalisation. With growing awareness of environmental and ethical concerns, there's a significant emphasis on sustainable materials and ethical sourcing practices in the jewellery industry.

Additionally, customization and personalisation have become increasingly popular, allowing individuals to express their unique style and story through bespoke designs and personalised touches, reflecting a shift towards more meaningful and conscious consumption in the realm of jewellery.

Key Jewellery Styles You May Have At Home

  • Ethically sourced gemstone jewellery
  • Nameplate necklaces
  • Stackable rings
  • Symbolic and meaningful charms

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, jewellery trends have shifted over the decades, reflecting changes in fashion, society, and technology. Yet, the value of jewellery from any era remains undeniable. Whether it's a vintage Art Deco piece or a modern sustainable design, jewellery holds sentimental and aesthetic worth.

Pieces from the past can be highly sought after and worth selling for cash. Jewellery tells a story and connects us to our history and culture. As we embrace sustainability and personalisation, the future of jewellery promises to be diverse and dynamic! If you have jewellery from any era that you no longer love, want, or use then consider selling it for cash! 

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