Jewellery Learning

Know Your Vintage Jewellery Styles

Vintage jewellery is very popular right now. Also called estate jewellery or period jewellery, it’s one of the biggest trends in engagement rings. It’s also highly visible on catwalks and in high street stores.

When we’re shopping for vintage jewellery, we usually mean modern jewellery that looks like jewellery from a particular era. Such as Art Deco, Victorian or Belle Epoque.

But what do these names mean? How do you tell designs apart? In this blog post we’ll take a look at some of the most popular vintage jewellery styles in fashion today.

Byzantine Vintage Jewellery

Ornate Vintage Diamond and Gold Flower Design Ring with Relief Work in yellow Gold and Round Cut Diamonds in a Rubover Setting


Byzantine style gold vintage ring

The Byzantine period was the era of bling. It lasted from about year 300-1400 AD. The name comes from the Byzantine Empire, which followed the Roman Empire. The jewellery throughout this period was lavishly decorated and ornate.

Gemstones were mainly polished into smooth oval or round shapes called cabochons. Chains were thick with woven detail. Rings were usually made of gold and decorated with intricate engravings, relief work or multiple gems.

Romanesque Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Style Amethyst and 0.25ct Diamond Cross Pendant Necklace

Vintage amethyst diamond cross pendant

In Gothic Europe from around 1000 AD, people often wore jewellery to show their religious devotion. Crosses and images of saints dominated design. Gold, silver and precious gems were used in jewellery pieces worn by nobility. The lower classes wore items made of cheaper materials, like copper and enamel. Colourful gems were highly valued because of their symbolism.

Renaissance Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Style Renaissance inspired Sapphire Earrings in White Gold

Vintage Renaissance-inspired sapphire earrings

During the Renaissance, from the 14th and 17th century, jewellery became splendorous. New techniques meant gem cutters could carve diamonds and gems into facets. This brought increased sparkle and radiance to jewellery.

Precious metal settings featured intricate twists and twirls. These patterns echoed the fleur-de-lis, the royal lily symbol of the French Renaissance. More than ever, people wore gold, silver and gems as symbols of status and power. 

Georgian Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Georgian era inspired Chandelier Earrings with 0.33 carats of diamond in white gold

Vintage Georgian style chandelier earrings

Period jewellery from King George’s time is known as Georgian. Pieces made between the 1700 to mid 1800’s were intricate and sparkling. Chandelier earrings, brooches, flowers and ribbon motifs were fashionable.

Filigree, where precious metal strips were coaxed into lacy openwork, was a big trend. Brooches and earrings often featured tiny, hanging tassels or baubles. Diamonds were the most popular gemstone of the time.

Victorian Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Necklace with 9.00 carats of H/SI Diamonds in 18K White Gold set in an intricate late-Victorian period style

Vintage late Victorian style diamond necklace

The Victorian era, named after Queen Victoria, began in 1837. It was divided into three periods: the Romantic Period, the Grand Period, and the Aesthetic Period.

Jewellery from this time is romantic and nature-inspired. Motifs like fruit, animals, hearts and flowers were common, as were lockets, cameo brooches, pearls, turqoise and onyx.

Gems and diamonds were not as prominent during the first two periods. But they came back in a big way during the final Aesthetic period. Late Victorian jewellery was often lavish, with ornate diamond cluster designs.

Edwardian Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Vivara Collection Sapphire and Diamond 9K Rose Gold Butterfly Ring Edwardian influenced

Vintage rose gold sapphire ring

King Edward began his reign in 1900. Jewellery styles were becoming increasingly intricate. French Belle Epoque jewellery, where enamel on precious metals was used to create colourful butterflies and flowers, was all the rage.

Lacey patterns, feminine motifs and Russian rose gold stood out. Coloured gems and diamonds, which had reappeared at the end of the Victorian era, were dainty, multitudinous and sparkling.

Art Deco Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Art Deco style sapphire and 1.50CT diamond bracelet in 18K white gold

Art Deco style bracelet

The Art Deco era lasted from about 1920 to 1950. It featured exotic designs, diamonds and gems set within minimalist lines. Diamond were used lavishly, but styled into strict geometric patterns.

Art Deco designs kept the intricate, feminine feel of Edwardian jewellery, while being modern and edgy. Square and rectangular diamonds with princess and baguette cuts were now more popular than round or oval stones. Women preferred big, sparkling necklaces and bracelets.

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