CALL US NOW: 0207-700-2354
FREE UK shipping on orders £40+ (excl. sale items)

Vintage Jewelry – Styles through time

August 30, 2016


Different countries value jewelry in different ways and in modern society, costume jewelry is just as popular as investment pieces. Antique and vintage jewelry is a popular choice when looking to purchase beautifully classic pieces. Their story and symbolism in history creates an alluring fashionable item, perfect when choosing a piece for gifts or personal preference.


Jewelry is an ideal way to complement an outfit. For thousands of years vintage jewelry has symbolised a range of things from personal adornment to cultural importance. Jewelry comes in several designs including rings, brooches, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Many are made with gemstones and beautiful jewels or beads to embellish an outfit. As with fashion, jewelry has changed throughout time creating iconic styles and trends.

Jewelry styles through time

Ancient jewelry throughout the world

As this form of adornment spans thousands of years around the world, you see a huge variety of materials used to create stunning pieces. In prehistoric times, bones, shell and stone were used and often symbolised rank or status. Many museums give you the perfect viewing of some of the world’s most interesting and important pieces. They often share the story and origins of its creation. During these times, gold was very rare and an extremely high value material. Many pieces were made in gold and encrusted in gemstones came from tombstones and burial sites of people high in status.

Medieval jewelry

During medieval times, jewelry was a symbol of rank, tribe and culture. Royalty wore gold and precious metals and materials such as copper and pewter were worn by the lower ranks. Gemstones had mythical meanings and many thought jewelry protected the wearer for example in times of battle. Vintage jewelry during this period had largely religious or belief significance also.

Renaissance vintage jewelry

The renaissance age had a love of splendour, opulence and colour. The difference in cutting techniques displayed the glitter of the stones providing an elaborate embellishment. Religion was a significant factor during this time and pieces were worn to protect from a variety of things. Different stones symbolised ailments or personality characteristics either providing the wearer with encouragement in these traits or a remedy to banish them.

Changes in fashion – 17th and 18th century vintage jewelry

With design changing and an increase in the accessibility of gemstones, new styles of jewelry were created. Cutting techniques were improved and trends in fashion made matching jewels to an outfit more important for the wearer. Ornate jewels and precious metals adorned the necklines of many women in higher classes. Other vintage jewelry decorative designs came into the mix for example floral pieces and bow motifs proved a popular jewelry choice.

Painted opaque enamel was also said to have been formed during this time by Frenchman, Jean Toutin of Châteaudun.  During the 18th century diamonds were a popular choice in jewelry design and were used in many pieces. Other items were decorated in this period, for example regal swords or gems scattered on clothing.

Delicate design – 19th century jewelry

This age of jewelry design saw inspirations from ancient and medieval periods. There were significant archaeological finds that sparked a revival of previous techniques in jewelry making. Motifs were a popular design and floral or botanical adornment was regularly seen and colours were matched to flowers showing their recognisable characteristics. Flowers during this time also symbolised love and friendship giving vintage jewelry an importance and significance for the wearer.

Vintage jewelry – 20th century design

Trends and fashion were becoming increasingly popular in society. Specific themes or design became a figure in vintage jewelry making. A popular example included the movement of Art Deco. The geometric and precise design was celebrated by machine led jewelry makers.

This era also made jewelry affordable and accessible to many people and many countries were making beautiful designs and selling worldwide. There are many vintage jewelry pieces from the 20th century that are perfect for matching with modern fashion. Towards the later part of the century continued to see innovation in design. New and contemporary items shone through with Avant-garde artists making waves in fashion led jewelry creation.

Modern jewelry and vintage jewelry inspiration

There is a huge mix of jewelry design in today’s market. Much of its inspiration comes from vintage jewelry design. Many people buy investment pieces and items for celebrations and occasions. There is also plenty of costume jewelry to match with your look. Vintage jewelry is a great way to complement an outfit whether you are opting for retro style or a modern twist. Jewelry since the 1900s is available on many retail platforms and during the past 100 years, we’ve seen a huge change in trends and vintage jewelry design. Classic pieces will never go out of fashion and make the perfect investment for your wardrobe.