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What Shapes the Jewelry Industry in World Cultures? Part III

May 13, 2018

What Shapes the Jewelry Industry in World Cultures? Part III

The first decades of the nineteenth century were highly influenced by Eclecticism, with a revived interest in Medieval and Renaissance jewels. The Industrial Revolution drastically altered the concept of jewelry as a status symbol, creating a market for high-quality jewelry at affordable prices for the burgeoning bourgeois class.

The Victorian Era in Jewelry

The Victorian period in jewelry, starting from Queen Victoria's coronation in 1837 until her death in 1901, is characterized by its distinct periods. This era witnessed the use of varied motifs and styles, ranging from Egyptian and Etruscan to Gothic and Renaissance. The Romantic, Mid-Victorian or Grand Period, and Late Victorian eras each had their unique jewelry styles influenced by societal changes and cultural discoveries.

Tiffany & Co.: American Jewelry Renaissance

In the United States, Tiffany & Co., founded in 1837, marked a significant point in American jewelry history. The company brought an “American style” to the luxury jewelry market and achieved international recognition, especially known for its diamond jewelry and a variety of colored gemstones.

Art Nouveau Movement

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of the Art Nouveau movement, which brought a dramatic change in jewelry design with its emphasis on nature, flowing lines, and mystical themes. This period favored materials like glass, horn, and enamel, with a focus on soft, romantic styles.

The Emergence of Art Deco

Following World War I, the Art Deco style emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by geometric shapes, parallel lines, and symmetrical patterns. This period saw a mix of influences from various world cultures and a preference for platinum, white-gold, and brightly colored gemstones.

The Retro Period: 1935-1949

The Retro Period, lasting from 1935 to 1949, blended Victorian motifs with modern romantic designs. Influenced by Hollywood, this era in American jewelry was marked by showy and colorful pieces, with the use of different gold colors and a variety of gemstones.

The Modern Jewelry Movement

Beginning in the late 1940s, the modern jewelry movement focused on "wearable art." The 1950s saw a demand for jewelry as both everyday items and luxury evening wear, with a trend towards full sets of jewelry, cocktail rings, and daytime pearls.

Contemporary Jewelry: A Blend of Past and Present

Modern jewelry represents a blend of historical styles with current trends. Technological advancements have introduced new materials and manufacturing methods, with a growing interest in artisanal and culturally diverse designs.


This comprehensive overview offers a full insight into the jewelry industry's evolution, covering significant design periods and styles from the 19th century to contemporary days, highlighting the changing function, symbolism, and social context of jewelry.

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