Vintage & Antique Jewelry Periods: An Overview

Jewelry has transformed throughout the ages following changes in fashion, material, and reigning royalty. Each time period has specific characteristics, notable innovations, and a unique depiction of the popular taste and preference. Before we delve into each one, let’s touch on the most prominent defining features of six time periods.

Georgian brooch with emeralds and ruby

Item #: 145-2708

Georgian (1714-1830) – This period marks the reign of King George I, II, III, and IV. Native table-cut diamonds and foiled backed gems with tinted and silvered copper sheets were prominent during the time. In addition, iron and cut steel jewelry and mourning jewelry that often included the hair of a deceased loved one were popular. The functional chatelaine, which was equipped with gold-topped perfumers, opera glasses, covered mirrors, and keys were often worn by the lady of the household.


Item #: 198-116393

Victorian (1835-1890) – Named after Queen Victoria, this era featured large gemstone brooches and continued the traditional mourning jewelry. Ladies sported cameos crafted from coral and black stones such as jet, onyx, ebony, choker necklaces, and stick pins celebrating Queen Victoria’s reign.


Item #: 198-113506

Edwardian (1890-1915) – This period receives its name from King Edward, and showcased delicate feminine lace in garland, ribbon, and bow designs. They were often set in platinum with diamonds. Millegraining became a popular technique, and elongated-outline rings were highly sought after.

Art Nouveau_198-114980

Item #: 198-114980

Art Nouveau (1895-1915) – This notably French designed jewelry included lavaliere necklaces, and Beaux Arts elements such as lions, tigers, nature and floral elements. There was a late introduction of white gold, and the jewelry designs featured flowing lines and feminine curves.

245-7780_Art Deco

Item #: 245-7780

Art Deco (1915-1935) – Known as the period between the two World Wars, this period fashioned jewelry in geometric shapes, experimented more with white gold, and later created more symmetrically cut diamonds that were used to punctuate jewelry design. This period also receives credit for the innovation of invisible settings gemstones.


Item #: 198-115885

Retro (1935-1950) – Jewelry during World War II welcomed the return of flowing lines and curves in snake chains, as well as bow and scroll design elements, colored synthetic gemstone accents (diamonds, rubies, and sapphires). Rose gold made its official debut. Charm bracelets and ballerina brooches were also trendy during the era.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series! We will be taking an in-depth look at each jewelry period, and continue our discussion of jewelry’s magnificent history through the ages. By the end of the series, you’ll possess valuable knowledge that enhances your appreciation of vintage and antique jewelry.


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