The first indications of jewelry making began in Ancient Egypt between 3,000-5,000 years ago. Since then, jewelry has been widely used to adorn individuals and show signs of status, power, or attract a potential mate. Jewelry is considered antique when it was made over a 100 years ago. Vintage jewelry is considered vintage when it is at least 20-30 years old, but made within 100 years ago. Within these larger classifications, there are some smaller, more descriptive classifications for jewelry eras. These styles and eras of jewelry include Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Retro, & Modern.
Georgian jewelry style was popular from 1714 to 1830. Georgian jewelry is very rare, and most pieces from this period have been modified to suit the current times. During the Georgian Period, gold was so expensive, so many of these pieces were cast in sterling and 18k gold. Diamond rings were often set in sterling silver with an overlay of gold to prevent the silver from tarnishing. Diamonds were often mine cut or rose cut. The technology of stone cutting machines and devices were not as advanced as today, so jewelry pieces were made to fit the stones that were available. It was very common to have Georgian jewelry with many different sizes of stones. Foil was also used to back the stones and make them refract more light.
The Victorian Era of jewelry spans from 1835-1900. The era is named after Queen Victoria of England, who was very well liked by her subjects, and jewelry styles mirrored her life stages. Fine jewelry became more accessible during this period as the emerging middle class in Europe began to take shape. Queen Elizabeth used an emerald, her birth stone, as her engagement ring, and colored stones became very popular. The Romantic Period, which occurred from 1837-1861, characterized her love for her husband, Prince Albert. Jewelry during this period symbolized love, confidence, and serenity while including flowers, hearts, and bows as common designs. Once Prince Albert died in 1861, Queen Elizabeth began wearing black jet and onyx jewelry to help her cope with morning. Once she came out of morning, Queen Elizabeth began to wear more whimsical styles of jewelry including stars, crescent moons, and dragon designs. As the Victorian Era was coming to a close, there was a mass discovery of diamonds in South Africa, and diamonds became the preferred stone again.
The Edwardian Period spanned from 1901 to 1915. The era is named after King Edward of Britain. Edwardian jewelry is characterized by graceful and elegant designs. The use of platinum in jewelry began to emerge during this time period. Popular designs include lacy, filigree styles with classic motifs utilizing pearls, platinum, and diamonds. White jewelry including platinum and white gold epitomized class and sophistication. Designers pulled many of their ideas from Ancient Roman, Greek, Napoleonic, and the French Baroque periods. The Edwardian came to an end as World War I broke out.
The Art Nouveau Period began around 1890 and ended around 1915. The overall theme of the period was romantic, mystical, and soft. Diamonds were not used very often during the era, but moonstones, opal, agate, amethyst, and amber became popular. Art Nouveau designers focused on hand crafting their pieces instead of mass producing them. Enameling jewelry became a very popular technique to add designs and create a stained glass effect.
The Art Deco Period spanned from 1915 to 1935. The era is characterized by bold, geometric shapes and straight lines. The style embodied the free-spirit mindset of the times. Art Deco was the style of the “Roaring Twenties.” The economy boom made jewelry pieces much more affordable, so the style was extremely popular. There were technological advancements in cutting techniques, which led to the creation of the beautiful round brilliant cut diamond. The use of platinum was still popular, but white gold, which was cheaper than yellow gold and platinum, became the standard of the time period. The Art Deco age changed the jewelry style forever.
Retro jewelry was popular from 1935-1950. The Retro Period was sandwiched between two terrible crises, the Great Depression and War World II. This time period is the golden age for Hollywood, so women saw the big, flashy rings in the movies and wanted them for themselves. Jewelry tended to be much larger than previous styles, because women desired for their jewelry pieces to be eye-catching. The motifs used during the era included bows, ribbons, and flowers. Gold became increasingly more popular due to a shortage of platinum. Designers became mixing different alloys to create rose gold and green gold. Large cut stones like Amethyst and Aquamarine were often accented by small diamonds.
In Baton Rouge, Gold & Silver of Louisiana sees jewelry styles of all eras come through our store. We buy and sell antique and vintage jewelry. We have a great selection of vintage jewelry, so stop by our store in Baton Rouge or call us today at 225-366-1000!