Jewellery Trends of the 20th Century
Game-changing jewellery trends of the 20th century
Jewellery trends can sometimes be overpowered by more obvious fashion fads, from fur to flares. When you think of a classic outfit from the ‘70s, chances are it’ll be the clothes and not the bracelets that you picture. That’s not to say that popular accessories are unimportant, however. More often than we tend to realise, their size and style have driven the bigger trends in the fashion industry throughout history. The 20th century is no exception, so we’ve uncovered some of its most noteworthy jewellery crazes and revealed just how much of an impact they had on fashion in general.
Pearls, pearls, pearls
If we asked you to think of the 1920s, we’d bet good money that images of Gatsby-esque glamour, roaring parties and flapper girls drowning in pearls would cross your mind. Outfits of that decade seem unfinished without a lavish string of pearls or embellished headband, and the jewellery encouraged a bolder style than the feathered hats and delicate elegance of the preceding years.
Two words: Art. Deco.
There was a time when everything from the most fashionable furniture to the most enviable engagement rings just had to be art deco. Characterised by symmetry and geometry, the jewellery in this style from the ‘20s and ‘30s furthered the bold trend set in motion by the pearls. Cheaper stones and better production methods meant that bling really was everything.
Pretty in plastic
With the financial crisis and subsequent Great Depression of the later 1930s, diamonds were in short supply. Plastic production was becoming ever-more sophisticated, however, and the costume jewellery craze was born. Simpler designs but brighter colours were all the rage, and this was reflected in the clothing of the period too. It’s a trend that never really ended, and can be seen in full-force in high street clothing shops today.
Diamonds really are forever…
With a war on, a resurgence in diamond sales might be the last thing you’d expect from the 1940s. Which just goes to prove the impressive power of advertising. Once they were told that this clear stone alone is eternal, nothing but a diamond engagement ring would do for the women of Britain. Their popularity encouraged a more classic, elegant style still associated with the jewel over seventy years later.
The jewellery trends of the ‘60s can be seen mirrored in the clothes, makeup and even the politics of the time. Women wanted total freedom in all aspects of their lives, from their jobs to their jewellery boxes. The matching sets of the preceding centuries were out and anything was possible, from psychedelic colours to DIY hemp bracelets. This tone of rebellious freedom carried on well into the next decade, prompting Vogue to declare ‘There are no rules in the fashion game’ in the ‘70s.
The bigger the better
Everything in the ‘80s was huge — just look at Tina Turner’s ‘do! Chunky, statement jewellery was in, and the hair and outfits were left racing to keep up. A look wasn’t complete without cocktail rings and thick necklaces, and the plastic boom of the ‘30s saw its total realisation here.
A little bit moody
The 20th century wrapped up with some bold style choices, and the jewellery was at the forefront of this. New technologies saw gimmicky pieces like the mood ring really take off, while the thriving alt. scene rocked chokers and septum piercings. Perhaps more than any other decade of the century, the emphasis was purely on having fun and wearing what made you happy.
The shifts in fashion, and more specifically in the styles of jewellery, in the twentieth century were massive. From headdresses featuring bits of birds at the outset, to sleeker, more technologically minded pieces at its close, the journey really is extraordinary. Interestingly, the turn of the new millennium saw a reversion to delicate designs and lots of diamonds. They say that history repeats itself, so we hope you’ll join us in watching out for the return of some of the above trends in the coming years. Although we can’t say we’d personally join in if the ‘80s hairdos make a comeback…
Which was your favourite jewellery trend of the 20th century? We’d love to find out, so let us know in the comments below or via one of our social media outlets.