There was a time when just about every woman longed to have a piece of jewelry, no matter how modest. It was something personal, and precious to the owner. It might have been handed down in a family, or a gift from a loved one. The fact of its being in an earlier style made it even more special – it had a history.
Now, we tend to look upon jewelry differently. Granny’s necklace may have been stylish in its day, but can I really wear that now? My mother loves gold jewelry from the 1930’s and 40’s but isn’t that out-of-date now?
Every woman should own at least one great and distinctive piece of jewelry. By great, I don’t necessarily mean big, precious stones. I am talking about jewelry that was designed with imagination, and built by skilled jewelers who cared about details. Some of the most interesting jewelry has very little of intrinsic value – it is about great design. We like jewelry that has a “personality” – something about it that is unique, original, eloquent, and that speaks of its period, but in a way that defines the period, rather than merely following it.
Every period of recent jewelry history has beautiful and wearable pieces to offer that transcend the ordinary, be it Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, 1930’s Modernist, 40’s “Retro”, 50’s, with its textured gold, lots of colors, and humorous themes, and 60’s, with it’s bold use of stones and enamels, and it’s new take on Art Deco. The best jewelry pieces are strong and self-contained – perfectly proportioned and designed with care and, often, with humor.
We are now, in fact, seeing a return to certain jewelry styles from the 50’s – bangle bracelets, charm bracelets, button earrings. From the Sixties, we are seeing long gold chains and necklaces, with or without stones, and hoop earrings.
That heavy gold Retro bracelet that your mother bought twenty years ago or perhaps even inherited from her mother is just as striking now, as is that 1930’s cocktail ring. Those hanging Victorian earrings are so distinctive and flattering – dare I say feminine? Sexy? The 1950’s and 60’s produced jewelry that was full of humor and imagination – these things never go out of fashion.
We are constantly lending jewelry to fashion magazines, and we are being asked for heavy gold jewelry from the 1930’s that an elegant woman would wear for an evening out. We are being asked for dramatic yellow gold jewelry of any period. We are being asked for Art Deco diamond bracelets. Fashion magazines are showing glamour and a sophisticated diversity in their choices of jewelry to accessorize an outfit.
Jewelry can be so much more than just a “fashion accessory”. The best pieces of jewelry are artful – they have a certain quality that sets them apart from more mundane pieces, and this is the kind of jewelry that we have been offering to our clients for 40 years. We have seen styles come in to fashion, go out of fashion, and then come in again, sort of like the tides…
Now that so many women find themselves most comfortable in jeans and a jacket, why not wear a distinctive brooch, a smashing bracelet, or an interesting pair of earrings? Every woman should have at least one “signature” piece of jewelry.
There are many areas being explored now in contemporary jewelry design by individual “studio” designers, such as the spare, geometric designs of Giampaolo Babetto, each executed by him in 18k gold, some with textured enamels. Small studios are creating original designs, many in new materials that are fresh and modern, such as the “Superleggere” necklaces and bracelets of GianCarlo Montebello, made from intricately laser-cut steel.
There really is no reason not to explore the fascinating world of jewelry – there is just the right piece out there, waiting for you to discover it, and be it Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Retro, 50’s or 60, or contemporary, it is not your mother’s jewelry – it is yours.
Jewelry images from left to right: Sterle, 18k gold and multi-stone necklace; Buccelatti, 18k gold and yellow beryl ring; Buccelatti, 18k gold and 4 ct. diamond ring; Boucheron, 18k gold necklace that can also be worn as three separate bracelets; Babetto, 18k white gold with red and black niello, pigment; Montebello, 18k gold hoops and three stainless steel pendants.
This article and the images in it are copyright- protected, and may not be excerpted or reproduced in any form without the consent of Audrey Friedman at Primavera Gallery NY.