A History of Jewellery
The Oldest Form of Jewellery
Jewellery has been made from many different natural or man-made materials for centuries. Shells, stone and bones were all made into bits of jewellery in the Ancient Jewellery Era. Early Jewellery examples were often considered to be worn as protection from everyday dangers, or as a mark of status or stature.
The introduction of metal work in the ancient world was a significant step in the development of jewellery as an art form. As history developed along with metalworking techniques, jewellery became more sophisticated and the decoration of such a lot more detailed and intricate.
Medieval Era 1200–1500
Medieval Europe’s influence on jewellery was an important step in the development of jewellery as a status symbol, or to showcase a hierarchal rank. The society reflected at the time was intensely hierarchal and status-conscious. Noble men, along with Royalty, wore gold, silver and precious gems. Ranks just below wore base metals, such as pewter or copper. The colours of the jewellery at the time, provided by precious gems, stones and enamel, were highly valued.
Gems were usually polished instead of being cut. The size and depth in colour determined their value at the time, and goldsmiths for the time came up with a range of techniques to create effects on jewellery which are still evident today. Enamels allowed goldsmiths to colour their designs.
Renaissance Movement 1300 - 1600
The Renaissance cultural movement had a big impact on the popularity of luxurious jewels. Jewellery was now sort for its splendour, and enamels often covered both sides of the jewel. The enamels had become more elaborate and more colourful. The glitter of stones on the jewellery had also been increased due to advances in cutting techniques.
The 17thC saw a change in fashions, which had an impact on the styles of jewellery. Dark fabrics required elaborate gold jewellery and new soft pastel shades became graceful backdrops stones, such as gemstones and pearls. The growth of global trade and its expansion had made gemstones and other stones more widely available. The continued advances in cutting technique had further increased the sparkle of gemstones.
The end of the 17thC saw the introduction of the brilliant-cut diamond with multiple facets. Diamonds were beginning to sparkle like they had never sparkled before, which meant they came to dominate jewellery designs in the 18thC. Jewellery was often set in silver to enhance the stone’s colour.
Few diamonds from this period survived due to being sold on, or the gems being reset into more fashionable and more modern designs.
The 19thC saw a huge period of change, both industrial and social, but with regards to jewellery of the time, the designs were often focused on the classic, old fashioned designs of the past. These classical styles were very popular, and evoked past histories.
Interest inspired by the jewels of the time of the Medieval and Renaissance periods grew. The popularity of naturalistic jewellery, which was often decorated with flowers, fruit or leaves, grew in the 19thC – many pieces of jewellery from this era highlight the naturalistic-style demand. At the same time, flowers were used to show love or friendship. The colours in nature were matched by the colour of the gemstones.
Arts & Crafts Jewellery
The Arts & Crafts era at the end of the 19th century was influenced by the growing industrialised world. Jewellers and makers of all types of items were revolting against the machine-led factory system, and instead concentrated their efforts on hand-crafting individual jewels, a process which they believed would improve the end design. The style of the Arts & Crafts jewellery saw the repetition and regularity of familiar settings replaced with figurative designs or curving. Large, faceted stones were avoided, and jewellers instead focused on the natural beauty of cabochon gems, which were shaped and polished.
Art Nouveau jewellery 1895–1910
The Art Nouveau styled contributed to a shift in jewellery design, reaching a peak at a round the dates of 1900, which was reflected by its triumph at the Paris International Exhibition at that time. During the Art Nouveau period, many created organic jewellery whose undercurrents of eroticism and death were far away from the floral motifs of early generations. Art Nouveau jewellers distanced themselves from the conventional precious stone and instead used the subtle effects of materials such as glass, horn and enamel.
Art Deco Jewellery
Jewellery design between 1920 and the 1950s maintained both innovation and glamour despite the impact of the depression and the wars. Sharp, geometric shapes and patterns celebrated the development of the machine age. While exotic creations inspired by the near and Far East showed the international development of jewellery fashions. European jewellery houses could sell as far as New York and the Indian subcontinent.
Dense concentrations of gemstones are characteristic with the Art Deco style of jewellery. From the 1930s gold had returned to fashion due to being cheaper than platinum. The Art Deco jewellery movement gathered pace with artists and designers from other fields becoming involved in the design of jewellery. It is said, that their unique work impacted the new directions jewellery would take.
Since the 1960s jewellery has been continually redefined, most so by the growing use of non-precious materials, including plastics, paper and textiles, that have overturned the notions of status traditionally implicit in the form of jewellery.
Antique Jewellery is not only beautiful and unique, but it also allows the wearer to appreciate the styles, craftsmanship and history of a past era and it can also be a great investment.