Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jewelry by the Decades

This month's Jewelry Artisans Community blog carnival topic is "Decades of Jewelry".  I thought long and hard about how to write about this subject and after rejecting several ideas, decided upon an approach.  I'm not a fashion expert and I don't follow trends, which leaves me rather unqualified to talk about jewelry fashions throughout the decades.  But, I do have a jewelry collection that takes me back through the decades and it made me realize how jewelry can create memories, allow us to express our individual selves and mark the important events in our lives.

It's not a large collection, but I would like to share it with you.

My grandmother's wedding ring is an example of the style of the late 1920's - early 1930's.  New technology included machines that could cut faceted gemstones which contributed to making gemstone jewelry affordable to the middle class:

Aluminum jewelry came on the scene in the 1940's due to precious metals such as gold and silver being scarce during WWII.  It's light weight made it possible to design large, chunky jewelry and also made it a status symbol.  Usually silver colored, it was also often gold plated.

I remember my mother wearing this choker when I was a small child in the early 1960's.  The blue rhinestones gave it a touch of glamor reminiscent of the Hollywood stars of that era:

Damascene is the art of decorating non-precious metals with gold by engraving patterned cuts into steel, placing gold foil into the cuts and hammering until the gold penetrates the engraving .  Originating in the in the Middle Ages from artisan work done in Damascus, Syria, it has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries.  The "Arabesque" style consists of geometric designs while the "Renaissance" style features variations of birds, flowers and other objects  Each piece is oxidzed to create the black background. Toledo is the world's largest center of production of Damascene or "Damasquino".  Dating from the 1950s, this charm bracelet was one of my mother's favorites.

Another example of Damascene, these earrings belonged to a friend's grandmother:

With the arrival of the 1960's, macrame and hand formed beads strung on materials such as hemp came on the scene.  I wore this necklace as a young pre-teen/teen:

1970's styles include this elaborate necklace given to my grandmother by my aunt who brought it back from a trip to Europe:

This simple, yet elegant opal ring was a high school graduation gift from my grandmother in 1976:

 Long dangly earrings on French ear wires were wildly popular in the 1970's.  I still wear this pair!

 By the 1980's, studs or post earrings were in.  Big, bold and colorful were popular choices:

So were tiny and dainty:

My own jewelry designs contain features from many of the past decades from long dangly earrings to detailed beaded necklaces to creations that consist of wire, gemstones and often found or recycled/upcycled items:

 Whatever the decade, humans have had the need and desire to create beautiful things to adorn their bodies and their surroundings since the earliest recorded history.  It's an endlessly interesting and fascinating topic and I hope readers have enjoyed this glimpse into my personal jewelry history through the decades.

To see what other members of the Jewelry Artisans Community have to say on this topic, please click on the links below:

The Crafty Chimp

Cat's Wire


  1. That's a great post. Thanks for taking us through the time!!

  2. What a beautiful collection and such happy memories to go withthem.

  3. Love this post! From the Aunt familiar with the wedding ring, 70's necklace and grad ring.

    1. Thanks, Auntie M! It was a treat to recall our family history through the jewelry collected over the decades.