Jewellery Design. A Brief History.
I thought it was time to update our knowledge of the history of Jewelry design. As usual… we are taking you on the journey with us. To follow is a pictorial stroll through time with brief descriptions of what has influenced jewelry design through the years.
P.S. Don’t even get me started on whether I should use “jewellery” or “jewelry.” For SEO and keeping everyone happy purposes, you are likely to read both in this post.
Renaissance (1300 – 1600)
In the Renaissance period, cultural evolution with the spreading of new “humanism” principles promoted the idea that man was the centre of his own universe. It encouraged people to embrace education, classical arts, literature, and science.
Impact on Jewelry Design:-
- Three-dimensional design
- Devotional jewels and religious symbolism
- Portrait miniatures and cameos
Georgian (1714 – 1830)
During The Georgian Period, Britain Ditched Its Medieval Past. It Shifted Away From Monarchical Power And Moved Toward Parliamentary. The Industrial Revolution Resulted In A Decline In The Rural Economy, And Booming Urban Industrialism. Jewelry Returned To Being Worn Primarily By Nobility And The Upper Crust Of Society.
Impact On Jewelry Design:-
- Rococo Style (Asymmetrical Patterns, Motifs, And Scrollwork)
- Suites Of Matching Jewelry
- Bow Flourishes
- Acrostic Jewelry (Words, Poems, Sentimental Notes)
- Bright Gemstones With Foiled Backing.
Victorian (1837 – 1901)
An important era to include in Jewelry Design A Brief History. Queen Victoria championed change and development. This Victorian era saw advances in medicine, science, and technology. Patriarchal family structure, centred around hard work and respectability, was the norm. However, this age also saw the spread of political movements such as socialism, liberalism, and feminism. The great love between the Queen and her Prince had a profound and sentimental influence on jewelry of the time. Travel and “grand tours” resulted in souvenirs being encased within jewelry pieces.
Impact on jewelry design:-
- Hearts and Flowers
- Crescent Moons
- Serpents (symbol of enduring love)
- Micro mosaics
- Pictorials of sights and cities
Art Nouveau (1880 – 1910)
As industrial production became widespread, the decorative arts were dominated by poorly-made objects imitating the style of earlier periods. The Art Nouveau movement sought to revive good workmanship and to abandon historical style, with a move toward modernism. Art Nouveau practitioners believed the function of an object should dictate it’s forming, rather than the excessively ornamental designs of the past.
Impact on jewelry design:-
- Undulating asymmetrical style
- Delicate and sinuous natural objects
- Linear rhythm
- Clarity of structure
Art Deco (1920 – 1939)
This movement in architecture and the decorative arts took its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925, where the style was first exhibited. The style went beyond modernism and encompassed everything from mass-produced homewares to handcrafted luxury items. The Art Deco style was anti-traditional with sleek elegance which symbolised wealth and sophistication.
Impact on jewelry design:-
- White diamond and platinum
- Inspired by speed and skyscrapers
- Softened geometric lines
- Vibrant gemstones
Scandinavian (1945 – 1950)
Scandinavian design influence came into play in the 1940s, with simpler and more affordable shapes and durable materials. The world sought to move away from the “totalitarian” international style which – thanks to Bauhaus architecture and philosophy – had been linked to Germany. Denmark was ideally placed for success in design. A new design aesthetic swept from Scandinavia across to Europe and America. The style was angular and handcrafted by Nordic silversmiths. Scandanavian jewelry design is still very popular today, and thus important to include in Jewelry Design A Brief History.
Retro (1950 – 1970)
There was much variety and change in jewelry design during the retro, now often referred to as “vintage.”
In the 1950s the end of WWII brought improved living standards and increased consumerism. This jubilant era resulted in a more expressive, colourful and “contemporary” style. Women’s fashion enhanced the curvy female form and the lowering of necklines meant there was more skin to be adorned.
Plastic jewelry became all the rage in the 1960s. The lower cost of materials allowed for layering and stacking of bright colours and oversized shapes. The hippie invasion also resulted in peace signs, flowered patterns, and psychedelic colours.
Examples of Jewellery from the 1960s
The 1970s saw bold pieces with darker and more natural colours. Beaded jewelry was very popular. The mixing of materials such as hemp and leather with non-precious metals was also widely adopted.
Contemporary (1980 to present)
Big was beautiful! Mixing and matching with a more eclectic approach became prevalent. The punk rock movement also had a big influence on the jewelry style.
Mood rings, chokers and trends like alien rings made this a fun decade for jewelry. It included everything from hemp beads to yin and yang emblems.
New technologies and non-previous materials have put aside jewelry as a status symbol. It has developed into wearable art with influence taken from all previously discussed historic styles.
Next time you stroll into a jewelry store or start searching for a new pair of earrings online, consider which period of design has influenced the jewelry style you like best.
To follow are some examples of our jewelry collection available in the Jimmy Hornet Shop.
Further research links for your further reading:-
Jewelry Design A Brief History
Jewelry through the centuries
The Art Nouveau Movement
Scandinavian Design Craze