The 3 Most Stunning Vintage Jewelry Eras of All Time

vintage jewelry victorian hand gold brooch

There is something exceptionally special about vintage jewelry. The idea that these pieces have a depth of history and have been involved in people’s lives and stories for decades or centuries is amazing. As such this massively contributes to the ability of vintage jewelry to captivate. Across the centuries, different eras introduced stunning jewelry designs and styles, influenced by society at the time. Let’s take a look at some of the most stunning vintage jewelry eras of all time and the influence they continue to have on the world of vintage jewelry.


The 3 Most Stunning Vintage Jewelry Eras of All Time


Victorian, 1837-1901

Queen Victoria loved jewelry, as she regularly designed pieces herself and also gifted it throughout the British empire. The era produced stunning pieces, featuring mostly gold jewelry set with impressive gemstones, with the pieces showing clear links to romanticism through the heavy use of rubies and symbols of love, such as hearts and flowers. 

This period coincided with the Belle Epoque era, which saw the standard of living in the UK increase quite dramatically. In the past, only been Royals or the extremely wealthy could afford the most luxurious jewelry. However, as a result of the improved living standards the demand for jewelry increased, and soon after mass-production began. 

Victorian jewelry featured exceptional quality, as of course mass production of jewelry still involves handcraftsmanship, just on a larger scale. For this reason, these beautiful pieces continue to circulate. 

victorian era vintage jewelry hand brooch gold
A late Victorian era antique brooch made in 1899 in 15ct yellow gold. Jewelry in the shape of hands first became fashionable during the 1830s and 1840s, when they appeared as gloved hands on clasps of gold necklaces.

Art Nouveau, 1890-1910

The Art Nouveau period slightly overlaps with the Victorian period, however, there was quite a significant shift in the style. Soft lines, curved shapes, and designs that reflected nature, such as animals defined this era. The female body was also a point of interest, in a simple and elegant way. 

Experimentation with color was very popular, with emerald, pearl, and enamel being regular features of Art Nouveau jewelry. This was also a period for experimenting with new materials, with shell being introduced to some spectacular designs. The designs were very intricate and delicate. Which is likely to have been influenced by the ornamental style of art that was introduced during the era.

An Art Nouveau enamel, diamond, and pearl pendent necklace, by René Lalique. This stunning design sold in 2017 for $978,400, the record auction price for Art Nouveau jewelry and Lalique creations. Source: Christie's
An Art Nouveau enamel, diamond, and pearl pendent necklace, by René Lalique. This stunning design sold in 2017 for $978,400, the record auction price for Art Nouveau jewelry and Lalique creations. Source: Christie’s

nahema chair by koket - brass hands

Art Deco , 1920-1935

The Art Deco era marked a time of change, which was heavily reflected through jewelry. Following World War I there was a strong sense of optimism for the future, and also a strong feeling of freedom and opportunity. As a result, almost every industry took risks, including the jewelry industry. 

Diamond bracelet, Cartier, c. 1920s. Source: Sotheby's
Diamond bracelet, Cartier, c. 1920s. Source: Sotheby’s

People’s desire to break rules and make a statement transformed jewelry, as sharp lines, bold colors, and strong shapes dominated. Bright, expensive gemstones featured heavily, particularly deep blue sapphires and bold emeralds. Newer technologies also made innovative jewelry possible which helped to embody the new principles that the famous Art Deco jewelry era has been built upon.

An Art Deco Diamond & Multi-Gem "Tutti Frutti" Bracelet by Cartier, c. 1930
An Art Deco Diamond & Multi-Gem “Tutti Frutti” Bracelet by Cartier, c. 1930. Source: Christies

The era produced decadent jewelry that has stood the test of time, as those pieces are still extremely popular. The craftsmanship from the period means that vintage Art Deco jewelry pieces are largely still pristine, one contributor as to why they have held their value so well.

Final Thoughts

These periods have been significant in the shaping of modern-day jewelry. Many vintage pieces from these eras are still circulating and have not lost value, as there is something exceptionally special about the journey vintage jewelry has been on. Buying pre-loved jewelry from these stunning eras is not only a more sustainable option for the environment, but you will get amazing character that is hard to find in modern jewelry.


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