Turn Of The Century Antique Jewelry



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Much older jewelry is too close to our own time to look like anything but, well, old jewelry. Jewelry old enough to reflect ideas that are returning to fashion gets the title antique jewelry, an honor that reflects its beauty and history.

Art Nouveau

The ‘90’s brought art nouveau into fashion. The look was characterized by sinuous lines and the use of natural elements like grass and seaweed. Jewelry of this era became more stylish and concerned with form. For hundreds of years before this, jewelry was all about the stones and the precious metal was only used to form a setting. Antique jewelry of the art nouveau style is about the flowing forms and features enameling along with opals and semi-precious gems. The dragonfly became a popular shape for brooches as it has again today. Precious stones became less fashionable and molded glass, horn and ivory were used.

Art Deco

Decades later, art deco made itself felt. Antique jewelry from the 1020’s and 1930’s has a more streamlined, geometric look. Instead of the sinuous lines of art nouveau, art deco features straight lines and sweeping curves. Chevrons and sunbursts defined the look. Materials like stainless steel and aluminum reflected the interest in manufacturing and modern building, Lacquer and inlaid wood were used instead of precious stones. Hollywood became an inspiration for art deco. The look was sleek and clean like the skyscrapers that fascinated the people of the time. The Chrysler building in New York City is a perfect example of art deco.

More Hollywood

Hollywood remained an influence on antique jewelry from the 1940’s and ‘50’s. In Europe and America, designers copied the look of the movie stars both on and off the silver screen. During this time, World War II caused rationing of metals which led to the rise of costume jewelry. The combination of glamour with mass-produced, inexpensive jewelry is a mark of this era’s antique jewelry. In spite of the age of this period’s antique jewelry, the large number produced and the inexpensive materials makes it very collectible.

Whether you appreciate antique jewelry for its value, beauty or collectibility, you can learn much of our history by acquiring pieces of different eras. Antique jewelry is one way to trace the evolution of fashion and the affect of international politics on style and materials. In addition, the realization that no matter how crazy modern styles may seem, there’s something similar to be found in the old, sedate past.

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