A History of Antique Jewellery

Antique jewellery is a popular choice with the discerning buyer. This article describes how antique jewellery varied in different eras and was influenced by the culture and fashion of that time, each period featuring its own individual characteristics.

Late Georgian Jewellery (1760-1837) – This was a time of worldwide turbulence with wars and revolutions. The style of jewellery was usually small and light pieces, such as short necklaces with intricate motifs. It was also common for the jewellery to include diamonds or other precious stones.

Victorian Jewellery (c 1837-1900) – This was a time of change with the coming of the industrial revolution and social reforms. This era saw the rise of the middle classes who created a demand for jewellery to be produced in higher quantities.

During the mid 1800s, the tendency was for jewellery to be larger. Queen Victoria was romantic in nature and this was reflected in the design of jewellery that featured hearts and flowers. In the late 1800s there were discoveries of large diamond deposits and this led to this type of jewellery becoming more popular.

Art Nouveau Jewellery (c 1895-1915) – This period emerged near the end of Queen Victoria’s reign and was mainly influenced by a return to craftsmanship. There was more of an emphasis on design quality over the material used. This resulted in a trend towards using semi-precious stones such as amethyst and opals.

Edwardian Jewellery (c 1901-1915) – The reign of Kind Edward was a time of fashion, elegance and sophistication and this was reflected in the design of the jewellery during this era. Diamonds, rubies and emeralds were fashionable and jewellery featured elaborate designs.

Art Deco Jewellery (c 1920-1935) – This is a design era which emerged after the First World War. There was a period of wealth after the war and this led to a trend for using precious stones in jewellery. Jewellery design in this period was influenced by Cubist modern art and features geometric shapes and symmetry.

Retro Jewellery (c 1935 – 1950) – This period included the depression of the 1930s, the Second World War and the prosperity that followed it. This resulted in a wide variety of different jewellery designs and themes. Much of the post war antique jewellery is inspired by Hollywood and tends to feature bold and elaborate designs. Antique designer jewellery from this time is also very popular with collectors, such as antique diamond rings made by Cartier and Tiffany.