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.
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
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.
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