What Are The Different Types of Antique Jewelry?

It is said that art imitates life, and this is true for jewelry design. Throughout history, the events of the times left a definite impact on how designers used metals and gemstones in their jewelry creations, as well as what motifs and features became vogue. In analyzing jewelry, the themes are clear and speak to the story of how jewelry evolved with the ages.

What Is Considered Antique Jewelry?

A piece gets the “antique” label if it is more than 100 years old, so every year, more pieces become antiques. Read our quick guide on the different types of antique jewelry.

Victorian Jewelry

Victorian Diamond Pendant Necklace , achieved $2,250 at our February 2020 Fine Jewels sale

The monarch Queen Victoria inspired many of the tastes of this period. These pieces are considered sentimental and include brooches, link bracelets, fans and hair jewelry.

Early in her reign, pieces took floral inspiration or were otherwise symbolic of flowers. Gold was a popular metal since different plating techniques had been invented. Designers used gemstones including amethyst and garnet.

In the mid-century, when Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria went into mourning. Jewelry made during this time was black with bold designs and gold with black enamel. After this, jewelry styles from the Renaissance and Gothic periods came into favor.

Later in the century, silver became the popular metal, and diamonds and pearls became the popular gemstones.

Art Nouveau Jewelry

Art Nouveau Diamond and Enamel Pendant Necklace, achieved $10,000 at our December Magnificent Jewels sale, 2018

This period includes the dawn of the 20th century and its first decade. Designs were rebellious against the excess of the Victorian-era styles. Designers used unconventional materials, such as glass or enamel, and created pieces by hand, setting aside the ways of the industrial age and discourage mass production. Many jewelry designs were likened to works of art in the hands of a sculptor.

Pendants, necklaces and hair ornaments were the famous pieces of this time, and their designs were inspired by natural elements. Dragonflies, flowing hair, female figures, plants and flowers were common. These designs favored curved silhouettes and incorporated elements like silver, enamel, moonstones, horn and natural materials.

Art Deco Jewelry

Cartier Art Deco Colombian Emerald and Diamond Bracelet, achieved $237,500 at our sale of the Estate of Bo Legendre

This style thrived in the years between World War I and II and reflected the opulence and extravagance of the Roaring Twenties. Music and art inspired the design of pieces. The Jazz Age prompted the use of color and shapes, as well as oriental and exotic elements presented in simple, angular, geometric forms.

White gold and platinum were common metals, and diamonds were heavily utilized to create utterly stunning pieces that glittered with every square inch. Popular pieces included long earrings, rings, stacked bracelets and flapper beads, often worn together shirking any attitude of “less is more” leftover from the War, and replacing it with “joie de vivre.”

Retro Jewelry

Van Cleef & Arpels Retro Diamond Bracelet, achieved $43,750 at our December 2019 Important Jewels Sale

World War II left an impact on this period of jewelry design. While the men were off to war, women found jobs in the workplace. With the rise of the working woman, jewelry and fashion became popular. Before the 1940s, platinum was the popular jewelry metal. However, the war made it scarce. As a result, designs from this period favored the usage of gold and rose gold.

Pieces from this era use bold and chunky designs of floral patterns. Colored gemstones like aquamarine and topaz were common, and clip-on earrings that were close to or just below the ear became trendy.

Buy or Sell Antiques With Fortuna Auction

Fortuna Auction is the only no-risk fine jewelry and watch auction house in the world. Our transparent methods make buying or selling antique jewelry secure and enjoyable.

If you want to purchase a lovely antique jewel or sell a piece through us, contact our specialists today!