The History of Jewelry
Postmodern Jewelry was merely practice during the Art Renaissance Intermission

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You won't find another 'History of Jewelry' (and there's lot of them) on the internet anything, and I mean anything, like what you're about to read. None Exist. (unless I've been copied again)

The history and future of Jewelry or anything in the context of time for that matter, are light years apart,  yet remain inseparable, and paradoxically hardly ever considered  as one complete something, if you know what I mean. I guess the Jewelry shoobies  are too busy trading mass produced jewelry to consider the History of Jewelry narrative.

For arts' sake, glance back over your shoulder,  just like the Girl with a Pearl Earring painting masterpiece (top of this page) and Google stalk Jewelry past. You won't have to search very far, as  that's what this entire website is dedicated too. 

If you consider the  Natural Pearl earring dangling from her ear, you can't miss that gleaming light-filled pearl right?  And like examining  the pearl, we examine  our history past,  we shift  the pearl into the present, now in our direct line of vision. The pearl, like Jewelry History,  is  now in the foreground. What has proceeded it, at this point, in Jewelry history, lest we forget, holds great significance for our present and future station.

From this angle, we see Jewelry History as a  Magic Baroda Carpet Ride on the bejeweled horizon of days gone by,  continually being interrupted  by wars and politics, economic crises, black swan events  and yet paradoxically, Jewelry in the context of history has been shaped and propelled by those very same forces.  

It's one big conundrum,  because from her perspective, we sense in fine estate & period pieces created by his master art an enduring reflection through the centuries of the human spirit, in its highest and purest form.  A symbolic expression of  the human love narrative in space-time, expressed as only a  true craftsperson can  express it. As we look in awe and fascination at the work made by master craftsmen of the past,  we know, without a shadow of a doubt, postmodernity was merely practice, during the Art Renaissance  intermission. 

In the great Anthropocene,  might we not just pause, to consider her account, because a woman can sense the Jewelry narrative as only a woman can. 

Jewelry in a World Without War & Economic Crises?

So how will the Jewelry narrative survive in a world without the interruptions of war, economic crises, etc  in the future?

From past Jewelry history, we can determine there hasn't ever been just one  "History of Jewelry" - there's been many Jewelry His Stories,  written in general  from a male perspective.   Histories of the artists. Histories of the designers. Histories of the international Maisons. Histories of the jeweled craft and the histories of the goldsmith's art and so on, and so on.

Antique Jewelry narratives, written in the historical context, mostly  refer  to the different styles and periods and considers the continuing presence or absence of similar features. In this sense, the alterations of stylistic periods are marked by Historical events such as..err... the two world wars of the 20th century, the wall street crash of 1929, the economic boom following the second world war.

From the Famous Jewelry Collections  a Jewelry art historian might arrive at a closer approximation of the origin and nature of the jewel in question, by examination of the metals, the goldwork and the stones they contain; for these alone remains free of Historical bias.  I mean... stones and bones don't lie;)

What's Truly Antique in the History of Jewelry?

Drawing from language, the actual word, 'antique' comes from the Latin word 'antiquus' which means 'old'. The word 'jewellery' is derived from the word 'jewel' from the Old French word 'jouel' in around the 13th century - the word 'jouel' comes from the Latin word 'jocale' which means a 'plaything'.

Antique Jewelry is jewelry that has reached 100 years or more, some argue 70 years only, in both cases, making it is a witness to a previous generation in history.

Historically, however, "antiques" hold a particular reference. Those antiquities from Old Greek and Roman civilizations, known as the 'Age of Antiquity' although considered antiques, the terms applied loosely, not in the true sense of the definition.

In the Pantheon of Jewels,  Antique Jewelry and 20th-century Jewelry is an ongoing commodity,  and yet remains a tribute,  an artistic record, hard evidence  of humanity at its very finest.  Magnificent Jewelry holds special significance in history.  It has strength and  beauty, just roars quality and master craftsmanship and importantly provides a more truthful  account of our history  than many written historical accounts.

Style, Form & Materials Used in Jewelry History

By cross-referencing period styles, forms and the materials used in the history of jewelry, dealers, and collectors can period date pieces with a greater deal of accuracy. After-all, bones & stones, antique diamonds, including the amazing  blue gemstones, and  antique gold work don't lie.

Antique Jewelry and 20th-century Jewelry may be embellished with precious and non-precious gemstones.

Each piece tells it's own story. Many pieces  express great love & intimacy. Local culture and traditions often made it impossible for people in love to express their love openly in the past - here, Jewelry came to the lover's rescue! It offered  an intimate  form of expression with forever lasting quality.

Click HERE to find out more about the sexuality of wedding rings.

Fine jewelry, crafted using jewelry techniques practiced during that period, involved materials that were popular in that same period.

Handcrafted Antique Jewelry was executed with painstaking attention to the finest details, just consider Peter Carl Faberge's most celebrated achievements.

History of jewelry Duchess of Cornwall

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall's Diamond Engagement Ring is a perfect example of the linear perfection in Art Deco Jewelry of the 20s.

A symbol of love in the shape of a  platinum and diamond antique engagement ring has been appointed keeper of the royal flame of love, for over a generation.  History and family tradition, add romance and value  to an heirloom antique engagement ring.

Antique Jewelry Described in Period Style

Antique Jewelry is categorized into separate period styles. Time-traveling into the past, let's take a closer look at each design period...

Our jewelry time-travel journey begins at the dawn of the 18th century and travels towards the present, ending at the dawn of the 20th Century. Our time travel is in Europe.

Premier Jewelry, gemstones, and Natural pearls have answered a deep and personal love of beauty throughout each of the period styles in the history of jewelry.  But that's just half the story.

Jewelry, gemstones and Natural Pearls have also been used strategically in world politics, and quite brilliantly by British royalty and French royalty, such as Emperor Napoleon and the acquisition of fine Jewelry of the Georgian period.

Key points in the Histories of Jewelry:

  • Jewelry existed, very strongly as an art form in which style and fashion were set by the aristocracy.
  • Bourgeois jewelry, peasant jewelry, and jewelry in less precious materials, that today we refer to as Costume Jewelry were often simply imitations of court fashions.

Click on the links below to enter the decorative periods during the History of Jewelry.

  • 1714 - 1830 Georgian Jewelry - named after the four successive English kings, George I, George II, George III, and George IV and it spans most of the 18th and part of the 19th century. On the European continent, this period is called the Louis styles, named after the French kings Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI.
  • 1837 - 1901  - Victorian Jewelry officially starts with the coronation of a very young Queen Victoria. It ends with her death at the age of 82, in 1901.
  • 1895 - 1910 (the peak years) - Art Nouveau Style Jewelry
    Inspiration form mother-nature resulted in the greatest period in English, European and American Jewelry.
  • 1901 - 1914 -  Edwardian Style Jewelry officially begins in 1901 when Edward VII took the throne at the age of 56. Although Edward VII died in 1910, the "Edwardian" style continued until the outbreak of the first world war in 1914. Coinciding with 'la belle époque' fashion era on the continent, a French term which means 'beautiful era'.
  • 1918 - 30 & Art Deco Jewelry -  a relatively short period in the history of jewelry. This was the "Roaring Twenties" and signified an overriding lust for life and the emancipation of women.
  • 1930 - 1940s Antique Costume Jewelry - or Retro- modern jewelry of the 1930s-40s was jewelry to wear at the new 'cocktail' hour. Made for women to show off in. To be glamorous and razzle-dazzle 'em at the new cocktail hour without the fine jewelry heavy price-tag.  

Jewelry in the Future?

So, what sense can  we make of Jewelry in the Future? Does it even have a future?  

Since 1918, few Jewels have been designed for court wear in any country and since 1939, even less. Besides, for political and economic reasons, the West does not encourage the making of such splendid Jewelry anymore.

To every cloud, there is a silver lining. Scarcity increases the demand for fine Antique Silver and Gold Jewelry, Period and Estate Jewelry already in short supply, which  will become even more scarce, and therefore more sought after in the future.

In concluding, Lest We Forget,  the  History of Jewelry has been continually punctuated  by war &  "reeking tube & iron...".

Could we consider,   the Jewelry narrative, in a world without war & economic crises  in the hopefully not too distant future, by also considering the grammar of Her. 

Have You Seen the Jewel of the Month Yet?

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