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Jewellery through the decades: Edwardian, Art-Deco & Vintage

Following on from our recent blog about Georgian, Victorian & Art Nouveau styles, we are continuing our series looking back at the many decades of jewellery. Understanding the history of jewellery is a great way to get more enjoyment from your favourite pieces. Read on to learn about the Edwardian, art-deco and vintage styles that prove to still be popular today.

Edwardian Jewellery (1901-1914)

The Edwardian era, also known as The Belle Epoque, helped establish an international high society in which fine jewellery was a necessary part of the dress code. Many pieces were therefore created to compliment the white silk and lace that was being worn by affluent ladies at that time. One of the most popular materials used in Edwardian jewellery was platinum, which allowed jewellers to create delicate designs with a lace-like appearance. Diamonds also featured heavily and due to their popularity, many new cuts such as marquise, emerald and baguette were being developed and incorporated into earrings and lavaliere necklaces. Rings and brooches were also commonly worn and, in addition to diamonds, many were set with stones such as pearls, amethysts, peridots, blue sapphires and rubies.



Art-Deco Jewellery (1920-1930s)

The Art-Deco period was a glamorous movement that emerged as a reaction against the frugality of The First World War. Originating in Paris at ‘The International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts’ fashions from the art-deco period were dominated by geometric shapes, bold lines and clean cuts. Other notable characteristics of art-deco jewellery include the use of platinum, which had gained popularity during the Edwardian era, diamonds, enamel elements and gemstones in a range of different colours. In contrast to earlier decades, the clothes and hairstyles of the 1920s were much shorter, which leant themselves well to long necklaces and ornate dangling earrings. Other items that became popular were the double clip brooch, wristwatches, lapel watches and cocktail rings.

Vintage Jewellery (1940-1950s)

During the 1940s, the Second World War had a huge impact on jewellery styles. Clothing was inspired by military uniforms, causing it to become more masculine, and as a result jewellery became more feminine. In addition to stylised flowers, popular motifs included buckles bows and ribbons. Sterling silver replaced base metals which were restricted due to war use, and many costume jewellery pieces were made from a plastic called Bakelite.

In the 1950s, the influence of Hollywood dominated jewellery as styles replicating those worn by the stars became highly desirable. For the first time, jewellers were also creating full sets of jewellery, typically made from gold, which included necklaces, bracelets, earrings and brooches and reflected preferences for matching jewellery. However, it was the simple pearl necklace that reigned supreme during the 1950s. Often worn with tailored trouser suits, cocktail dresses or twin sweater sets, they were the perfect addition to complete any look.


At McGowans, we stock a wide range of unique pieces from across the decades. You can view a small selection of our antique and vintage stock here, and we hope to see you in store once we re-open. Keep an eye on our social media channels for updates.