Below, discover the best vintage jewellery styles in history. Learn to tell the difference between design eras like Art Deco, Victorian and Belle Epoque – and how to identify specific vintage styles when shopping for jewellery.
1. Byzantine Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
From late 300 to 1400 AD
The Byzantine period was heavy with gold and jewels. It lasted from the late 300 to around 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.
Vintage Style Byzantine Diamond Ring
2. Romanesque Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
Around 1000 AD
In Gothic Europe from around 1000 AD, people often wore jewellery to show their religious devotion. Crosses and images of saints dominated design.
During this time, referred to as the Romanesque design era, gemstones were mainly polished into smooth, oval 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.
Vintage Style Romanesque Opal Ring
Romanesque Style Sapphire Cross
3. Renaissance Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
From 14th to 17th century
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.
Vintage Renaissance Style Diamond Ring
Renaissance Style Pink Sapphire Necklace
4. Georgian Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
From 1700s to mid-1800s
Period jewellery from King George’s time is known as Georgian. Pieces made between the 1700s to mid-1800s 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.
Georgian Style Pearl & Garnet Ring
Georgian Inspired Pearl Earrings
5. Victorian Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
From 1837 to 1901
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 a trend – 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, turquoise, onyx and enamel were slightly more affordable and therefore very popular.
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.
Early-Victorian Style Emerald Earrings
Late-Victorian Style Diamond Collarette
6. Edwardian Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
From 1901 to 1910
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.
Lockets were still popular, but now even more intricate than during the Victorian era, often displaying gemstones and other luxurious details.
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.
Edwardian Style Butterfly Earrings
Edwardian Inspired Heart Locket
7. Art Deco Inspired Vintage Style Jewellery
From 1920 to 1950
The Art Deco era lasted from about 1920 to 1950. It featured exotic designs, diamonds and gems set within minimalist lines.
Diamonds were still used lavishly, but according to the new style, they were designed into strict geometric patterns. Thus Art Deco designs kept the intricate, feminine and luxurious 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.
Art Deco Inspired Diamond Ring
Art Deco Inspired Diamond Bracelet
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