Vintage Jewelry Design by Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox explores jewelry design styles from 1890 to modern designs of today. Period photographs show models wearing the pieces through the years.

Vintage Jewelry Design, by Caroline Cox, explores different designs of jewelry from ten different time periods: 1890-1910, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and modern tastes from 1990 to today. At the end of each time period, Cox reviews the key looks, with color photographs and commentary.

History Through Jewelry Design

Cox illustrates popular jewelry and what was popular through each time period through photographs and historical information on the designers. The photos are in both black and white and color, and show models wearing the rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Since the models are also wearing the clothing of the times, readers can see how the accessories were actually worn, as well as make-up details and hairstyles.

Changing Styles and Women's Tastes

At the end of the 1800s and the early part of the 1910s, architecture played a large role in jewelry. The French were interested in Rococo and incorporating delicate and feminine features in jewelry for the newly wealthy middle class. Jewelry became art, and Art Nouveau influenced designs with organic forms and sensual styling. By the time the 1920s and 1930s came around, chic styles with the new Hollywood glamour became the rage. Pearls, diamonds, and simple filigree patterns were key looks for both decades.

During the 1940s, the economy and rationing for the war inspired fake jewelry, and some designers, such as Chanel, glorified plastic rather than try to mimic the real stuff. Rhinestones, faux pearls, plastic beads, and Bakelite were popular materials. Bracelets and jewelry etiquette ruled supreme in the 1950s. Cox refers to The Well-Dressed Woman by George Henschel, published in 1951, which advised women to use long pendant or drop earrings only for evening or very formal wear. For everyday, The Well Dressed Woman advocated small clip or stud earrings.

The 1960s and 1970s were influenced by the hippie movement and human body art. Futuristic shapes and contrasting colors were key, as well as geometrical patterns and textures. Modern pieces from the 1980s to current times involve powerful women and glamour, as well as both extravagance and restraint.

Recommended for Historical Information and How to Shop for Jewelry

Cox describes different pieces throughout many different time periods, with photographs of the times. Notable jewelers and jewelry artists such as Cartier, Faberge, Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Harry Winston, Kenneth Jay Lane, Butler & Wilson, and many more, are highlighted with historical briefs on how different artists began their careers in jewelry. The back of the book has information on shopping and collecting vintage jewelry, as well as how to spot fakes and how to care for jewelry.

Book Information:
  • Vintage Jewelry Design: Classics to Collect and Wear; by Caroline Cox, Foreword by Gerda Flöckinger
  • Lark Crafts, an Imprint of Sterling Publishing; 2011
  • ISBN13: 9781600597145
  • Hard cover in jacket, 224 pages

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Renee Shelton.