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History of antique jewelry

A little of Hisory…

Antique jewels are the witnesses of their time. Jewelers are artists and their creations are inspired by the trends of their time. They follow and sometimes anticipate the great movements that affect other arts such as architecture, painting or sculpture.  That's why styles are easily identifiable. 

We consider that jewels are antique if they are prior to the 60s. This is, we acknowledge, a bias but it is shared by most of our colleagues, experts in antique jewelry.

The Art Nouveau jewel (1892-1910) 

At this time, naturism or modern style is in vogue. It reverses the misconceptions about what must be a jewel in the late nineteenth century and therefore breaks with classicism.  Nature is represented in all its forms and sublimated by artisans of great talent. Insects, plants, flowers, reptiles, everything becomes subject for artists.

Jewelers during the World Fair of 1900, such as, Sandoz, Boucheron and Rene Lalique, had a great success.  Nevertheless, in 1902, this movement will be the victim of virulent criticism from many artists who will accuse him of being content to represent nature.

The Art-Deco jewel (1910-1935)

Bague art-deco

In rupture with the Art-Nouveau movement and yielding to the desire of simplicity, symmetry and aesthetic order, a movement emerges and asserts itself from 1910. But it is after the first world war, in 1925, during the international exhibition of decorative arts that the Art-deco style prevails.

This new jewelry is set with precious or semi-precious stones previously unused. Their design follows the geometric shapes of clothing and accessories and platinum is essential. 

Cartier, Boucheron, Van Cleef and Arpels, Mauboussin are at the forefront of creativity during these years.

Here is a beautiful article in Vogue 

Bague art-deco

The jewel of the 40s – The tank period     

Bague Tank

Due to the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, platinum was rare and gold became the metal used by jewelers. Pink gold was often used as well as other color variations of gold to give an effect of contrast (yellow and pink gold).

A new trend is asserting itself and new jewels are making their appearance, the time is for exuberance and imposing creations that emerges from the workshops of the creators. We remain in the abstraction of Art Deco, even if representations of nature survive here and there. 

Large and heavy geometrical gold bracelets, oversized earrings and imposing rings are visible side by side in the windows of the great jewelers of the Rue de la Paix

Bracelet Tank

The jewel of 50's 

Boucles d'oreilles 50's

The post-war period is characterized by a significant economic growth leading to the emergence of a higher middle class in great demand for jewelry. The supply of jewelers of the 1950s reflects this new prosperity by showcasing an abundance of precious stones. Once again, diamonds are needed. It was in 1948 that DeBeers unveiled its still famous advertising slogan "Diamonds are eternal ...

In the 1950s, the jewels retain the spirit of the 40s but their realization is lightened, the bracelets are refined, the frames are made with precious stones.      

Platinum is back and gets a place of choice in the realization of important pieces set with exceptional stones.