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A brief history of jewellery

  Jewellery has been worn for centuries, from the ancient world up until modern times, and has long been used as an indicator of social status or wealth. Jewellery in the very early days, in its most basic form, was created using local materials such as shells, feathers, wood and even skeletal remains of both humans and animals – some of which were considered spiritual.   In modern times, jewellery is worn more for its art and design elements and the whole social status is no longer relevant. Thanks to relatively recent advancements in the development of materials and the ability to transport precious stones from different parts of the globe, desirable and high quality jewellery has become available to everyone.   Looking back at the history of jewellery, we can see subtle artistic transitions from one period to another – from the Victorian period between 1850 and 1901, Art Deco period between 1910 and 1930, right up until modern jewellery which hasn’t changed too much at all since the 1960’s. This month, Brown’s Family Jewellers have decided to dedicate a blog post to have a brief look at which jewellery has had the biggest influence on the modern day pieces we know of today.   Victorian (1850-1901) During the Victorian period, Queen Victoria was setting fashion trends in both dress and jewellery during her 63 year reign. Due to the sheer amount of portraits the queen was featured in, people were strongly influenced by her and emulated the queen’s style. From sapphire and diamond wedding brooches to a sunray necklace – Queen Victoria wore jewellery liberally and abundantly.   Edwardian (1901-1910) The Edwardian era would be the final jewellery period to be defined by a British Monarch, reined by the English King, Edward VII. During the Edwardian period, we saw huge advancements being made in the techniques that allowed jewellers to easily work with platinum, with it now being possible for entire jewellery pieces to be made from the precious metal. This led to the strength of platinum being fully exploited by creating sophisticated designs which allowed for a decorative technique called Mille graining to be used – which added a texture effect to jewellery pieces.   Art Deco (1910-1930) A lot of the jewellery in this era had harsh angles and geometric lines which is why the jewellery was sometimes referred to as ‘cubism’. This was made possible by the machine age, which allowed for cleaner and rigid lines to be incorporated into the designs. Of course, this time was blighted by the First World War, which led women to ditching their fashionable clothing and jewellery so they could concentrate their efforts on the hard physical work in the absence of men. However, mainly due to the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922, jewellery drew massive inspiration from archaeological discoveries - leading to renditions of ancient artefacts, such as scarabs, being incorporated into many designs.   Modernism (1930 – 1940) After the Art Deco era, there was a brief period where modernist jewellery became fashionable. Jewellery produced in this time incorporated some very colourful and beautiful designs – although it’s sometimes ignored as an actual style due it being an evolution of Art Deco jewellery. However, the straight lines and geometric shapes had been softened and curved, which makes us agree that modernist jewellery should be considered a movement in its own.   Since the 1940’s, jewellery has seen subtle design changes influenced by mid-century modernism. Through using advanced techniques and developments in the manufacturing processes, jewellery has become affordable and accessible by everyone. With so many variations and styles available, it really is just down to personal taste, with some people preferring the timeless vintage classics and others preferring ultra-modern pieces. All of which are available from Browns Family Jewellers.