Importance of Antique and Estate Jewelry

Since the beginning of time jewelry has always played a part in man’s life. Through time jewelry has been used to express religious beliefs, love, power and medicinal purposes. Even today, jewelry continues to express love, social status and wealth.

Jewelry periods are not an isolated event. Periods evolve as a result of changes in industrial developments, cultural changes, politics, fashion, wars, and available materials. The dates on estate jewelry periods will often overlap as jewelry preferences take time to change. Jewelry periods are not generally labeled until many years later.

Historical Jewelry Periods

Georgian Estate Jewelry 1714 – 1830
Styles created during this period were named in honor of King George III of Great Britain. At the start of the Georgian Jewelry Period, only royalty and nobles could afford to wear elaborate jewelry. It was during this period that diamonds would be set without a foil background, although foil would continue to be used to enhance the intensity of colored stones. Significant motifs include bows, floral sprays and feather brooches. Designs would appear flat in design. At the end of this period, Greek and Roman antiquities would influence style. Acrostic jewelry, words spelled with the first initial of the gemstone, were popular at the end of this period.

Victorian Jewelry 1837 – 1901
This romantic, grand and esthetic period would be influenced by the taste and life of Queen Victoria and her Albert. The quest for natural look would give life to Victorian Jewelry. Flower, hand and evil eye jewelry would be popular motifs. Victorian Jewelry would become more three-dimensional and natural looking. Coveted jewelry types were sentimental woven hairwork jewelry, coral to protect children from disease and seed pearl jewelry.

The Mid-Victorian Jewelry Period would bring mourning jewelry in respect for Prince Albert. This black jewelry would be made from jet.

The Late Victorian Jewelry Period would bring sporting, animal and bird motifs. Japanese motifs would become coveted. Jewelry would become smaller in design and worn in greater quantities.

Edwardian Jewelry 1901 – 1910
Edwardian Jewelry was named for King Edward VII of Great Britain. This period symbolizes a time of social change and a creation of an extraordinary wealthy upper class. Edwardian Jewelry is characterized by its use of fine pearls or diamonds set in intricate platinum designs. Popular jewelry was monochromatic and usually white. It was made with a romantic lacy design. Platinum was the metal of choice as it could be crafted into intricate, filigree designs.

Art Nouveau Jewelry 1890 – 1915
Art Nouveau jewelry is known for intense creativity, nature inspired designs and free flowing lines. French designers began to use Asian inspired enamel techniques. Trained jeweler and designer Rene Jules Lalique’s artistic designs were in vogue. Interpretations of exotic flowers, insects and reptiles were used in soft muted tones. The Art Nouveau Jewelry Style ended with the start of World War I.

Art Deco Estate Jewelry 1920 – 1930s
The term “Art Deco” was never used during this jewelry style’s creation. The origination of the term came from the large Paris exposition of 1925, The Exposition Internationale Des Arts Decoratifs. The exposition emphasized the importance of design. Bold, contrasting colors, geometric designs, concise straight lines that intersect curves and circles make this style easy to recognize. Art Deco Jewelry’s design is influenced through cubism, King Tut and the Russian Ballet.

Retro Modern Estate Jewelry 1930s – 1940s
Designs representing the past and the future characterize the designs of retro modern jewelry. Jewelry would become larger, curvilinear and more three-dimensional.

Popular motifs were bows, buckles, rockets and wavy-folded-flag-look. Bi-color and tri-color gold colors settings would be created. America’s patriotism would be shown in red, white and blue jewelry with patriotic motifs. Machine age designs would be reinvented in multi-gold tones. Wide strap bracelets would be crafted in repeating patterns.

Contemporary Estate Jewelry 1950 – present