The Popularity of Vintage Jewelry

It has been said that fine jewelry never goes out of style, but it is only the categories of fine jewelry that are in style that may change. This explains why the popularity of vintage jewelry has never seemed to lessen! Let’s learn more about vintage jewelry and how you can best add it to your collection!


The Definition of Vintage Jewelry


The terms vintage, estate, and antique jewelry are all used interchangeably but if you ask a professional jeweler they know the difference. Estate jewelry is defined as any jewelry that has been previously owned. While many jewelry collections are passed down from generation to generation, estate jewelry is often also correctly defined as vintage and antique. Antique jewelry is defined as jewelry that is one hundred-plus years old. Vintage jewelry is defined as jewelry that is less than 100 years old but more than 50 years old. 


Truly vintage jewelry today would include jewelry that was created between 1921 and 1971. This includes the Art Deco Era(1915-1935), the Retro Era(1935-1950), and the Modern Era(1950-1990). 


Styles of Vintage Jewelry that We LOVE….


The art deco, retro, and modern eras all include vintage jewelry that we love and style regularly. Here are a few of our favorite styles from each time period.


Art Deco Era Vintage Jewelry


The art deco era of vintage jewelry is where jewelry really began to take a turn to fun, playful styles. It was no longer worn for only practical (but beautiful) purposes but instead, it was worn to show off each person’s unique style. The 1920’s brought the Flappers who are known for their long strands of layered pearls and extravagantly colored beaded necklaces. As the era progressed the necklace length grew shorter and shorter and even brought “dog collar” necklaces. Dog Collar necklaces are several gemstones in heavy casing that are worn shorter and closer to the neck. Necklaces and earrings were worn often with pendant styles and large colorful gemstones. The style was fun and flirty and many experimented with different ways to wear jewelry. (Imagine the long necklaces draping the bare backs of low V-cut dresses!)


As styles progressed in the art deco we saw the rise of colorful geometric designs and the popularity of platinum, white gold, and silver metals. These “white metals” were paired with diamonds. The “round brilliant” diamond cut was created which maximized sparkle in the gorgeous gemstones. Diamonds became the go-to gemstone during the art deco era. 


You can see why many of these vintage jewelry styles are still popular today! Long pendants and earrings, layered pearl necklaces and bracelets, bangle bracelets, and bold cocktail rings are all current jewelry styles that are influenced by vintage jewelry trends of the art deco era. 


Vintage Jewelry from The Retro Era


The retro era saw shifts in jewelry design and style because of wartime. Platinum was no longer available so metals shifted to yellow gold, rose gold, and even green gold. Times were hard and many wanted their jewelry to be eye-catching so the larger and bolder the better. Gemstones included synthetic rubies and sapphires, citrine, and aquamarine. Diamond engagement rings used elaborate illusions settings to make the smaller stones look larger and more brilliant. Ribbons, flowers, and oversized geometric shapes were formed with bright colorful gemstones. Jewelry was meant to be bright and eye-catching to bring joy and happiness to some otherwise hard times!


Today’s jewelry styles influenced by the Retro Era include the right-hand ring trends, charms on link bracelets, oversized gemstones in bright colors, and bold gold jewelry


Vintage Jewelry from the Modern Era


The 1950s and ’60s were filled with a fascination of space exploration and this fascination also influenced jewelry designs. Bold colors in geometric shapes, starbursts, and other atomic designs graced necks, ears, and fingers. During this time, women began shifting their jewelry choices to more formal “evening” jewelry and less formal and more fun, “daytime” jewelry. Gone were the days of wearing your most elegant gemstones for a day of work or running errands. They were saved for special occasions and nighttime events. Costume jewelry that included elaborately decorated themes from nature was also popular. 


Some of us can remember these styles and may have perhaps even worn them! We see the modern era vintage jewelry styles today in our daytime strands of elegant pearls, reserving specific fine jewelry for nights out on the town, and our love of long gold chains and gold necklaces. 


Isbell’s Vintage Jewelry Collection


Over the years the jewelry styles have never truly gone out of style but have simply ebbed and flowed with the fashion runways. Isbell jewelers carry a large selection of vintage jewelry from all eras and we would love to help you choose the perfect vintage necklace, bracelet, ring, or pair of earrings to show off your personal style. Stop by our showroom or browse some of our collection online to see the lovely vintage jewelry we carry! 


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