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Vintage Jewellery – A Glittering History

Vintage jewellery is popular on many levels. It's highly collectible and there are real enthusiast collectors of various eras and styles, and most vintage jewellery never really goes out of fashion. It's very desirable for all women who love to look good, whilst still maintaining some individuality. Of course, vintage jewellery is also an investment and will be something that increases in value year on year so is a popular choice for savvy savers and those who wish to keep their money in something other than a bank!

Here we take a look at some of the key elements of vintage jewellery and it's design, components and history...

Art Nouveau jewellery follows organic lines of romantic and imaginary dreaminess, with influences from nature and stunning ethereal beauties. The movement began in Paris and it's influence spread throughout the Western world. The Frenchman René Lalique was the master goldsmith of the era, producing exquisite one off pieces. Magnificent floral and botanical forms often worked in enamel were inexpensive and became the most popular. As an art movement today, the style is still admired by fans of vintage jewellery and copied in many types of reproduction jewellery.

Most fine jewellery in the 1900s was white and made from either diamonds or pearls. Queen Alexandra initially wore dog collar chokers, called a 'collier de chien' to cover a small scar on her neck. This choker style short necklace is still popular and there are many examples in most vintage jewellery collections. For state occasions and formal events she plastered herself in arrangements of various pearl necklaces. The rarity value of real pearls back then was such that an American skyscraper once exchanged hands for the price of a pearl necklace. Pearls are still one of the most popular types of vintage jewellery and are found in vintage necklaces, vintage earrings, vintage bracelets, vintage rings and vintage brooches – some real but many simulated.

TOP TIP - To ascertain whether a pearl is real or not, use the tooth test. Lightly rub the pearl against the front of your tooth and if the pearl is fake it will feel smooth. If it is a natural or cultivated pearl then it will feel gritty with a sand-like texture.

What we class as costume jewellery was sometimes then called cocktail jewellery and was greatly influenced by Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. They both encouraged clients to use costume jewellery and to mix it with genuine gem pieces they already owned. Both designers offered imagination and fun and both often sported fabulous fakes. In the late 1930s Napier of the USA was at the forefront of manufacturing fake cocktail jewels, which offered glamour and escapism without the hefty price tag.

By the 1940s and 1950s American culture was very dominant in Europe. The influence of cinema and Hollywood film stars set trends in make-up, hair and clothing. Ladies were looking to emulate their screen idols with replicas of their jewellery. It was widely believed that Hollywood glamour would rub off on you if you had the clothes and developed the look.

In the 1980s there was a huge revival of costume jewellery after the glitzy scenes from the television soap operas Dynasty and Dallas. Diamanté by day became the norm and earrings reached ridiculous proportions. Vintage jewellery from the 1980s is still highly sought after and worn mixed with modern pieces can create an really edgy, quirky look.

Vintage jewellery, like any jewellery, can really transform an outfit or piece of clothing. Wearing just the right necklace with that dress or just the right earrings with that hairstyle, are the things that turn heads and give you the wow factor at any event.

And whatever your style, you are guaranteed to find something you love in a good vintage jewellery collection – if you've never tried it before you should take another look, who knows what gems you might find...

We sell a full range of vintage jewellery at My Vintage and you can shop for anything from pearl earrings to wacky vintage brooches or 60s daisy necklaces to vintage cocktail rings. As always, you can shop 24/7 from the comfort of your sofa and have a little piece of vintage history delivered direct to your door.

Until next time

Emma x

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