Vintage jewellery styles in modern jewellery are very popular right now. For instance, contemporary engagement rings are often designed with influences from a particular era, such as Art Deco, Victorian or Belle Epoque. But what do these names mean? How do you tell design influences apart? In this blog post we’ll take a look at some of the most popular vintage jewellery characteristics – and how you can incorporate them into your style today.
Byzantine Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
The Byzantine period was heavy with 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, and one of the characteristic design features were thick, woven chains that resembled rope.
Rings were usually made of gold and decorated with intricate engravings, relief work or multiple gems.
Romanesque Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
In Gothic Europe from around 1000 AD, people often wore jewellery to show their religious devotion. Crosses and images of saints dominated design.
Gemstones were mainly polished into smooth oval or round shapes called cabochons.
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 Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
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 Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
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, ribbons or baubles. Diamonds were the most popular gemstone of the time.
Victorian Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
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 Queen Victoria’s time is romantic and nature-inspired. Motifs like fruit, animals, hearts and flowers were common – as were lockets, which were often used to keep a lock of hair or a tiny portrait of a loved one.
Those who could afford gems, would choose emeralds, rubies, sapphires and pearls.
Cameo brooches, pearls, turqoise, onyx and enamel jewellery was slightly more affordable, and therefore very popular at the time.
Diamonds were not that prominent during the first two Victorian 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 Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
King Edward began his reign in 1900. Jewellery styles were becoming increasingly intricate.
French Belle Epoque jewellery, where pearl drops, diamond halos, intricate silver lace work and enamel on precious metals were 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 Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
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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