20th Century Style is an amazing diversity of trends and fashions. These days what is fashionable one month is yesterdays old news in jewellery or clothing, art or home design. With the advent of internet shopping tastes change even more rapidly than they did in the past. Throughout the 1900s fashions came and went just like they do now but there were distinct recognisable styles that we can put a name on and which we can use to determine when it was made. Heres a look at 20th-century style
20th Century Style Reviewed
Heres a quick look at the main tends throughout the 20th century and how it can be seen in the jewellery which was made at the time.
With its beautiful sinuous curves, art nouveau lent its self easily to beautiful jewellery. We see this best in pendant necklaces or lavaliers from between circa 1900 and 1915. Enamel jewellery made by Charles Horner is often in art nouveau style. The main points to look out for are:
Tendrils, Flowing lines, curves, ladies with long curling locks
Here are a few examples:
Much lighter than jewellery made in the Victorian era. We see delicate colour stones such as turquoises, diamonds and pearls. Peridots and amethysts rather than the heavy dark mourning jewellery of the 1800s. Simple light and romantic compared with the previous 60 years.
Arts and Crafts.
This was a style reflecting back on earlier times and the values of traditional craftsmen. Pieces are often handmade or look that way. Look for delightful vintage brooches with ceramic cabochons made by Ruskin and set into hand hammered pewter surrounds.
Art Deco 1920s to 1940.
This 20th Century style is one of the best known. After the first world war, things went geometric and primary colours were in. Popular stones were in the colours of the day red, white, blue and green represented by rubies, diamonds, sapphires and emeralds or paste stones in the same shades. The dress clip was a new innovation and other pieces unique to the era include the sautoir which is a long necklace which is mainly worn down the back rather than the front of the body. Big bright pieces of Bakelite were a wow – bangles, necklaces and brooches. Can you see the difference between the straight lines of these Deco pieces and the flowing ones of Art Nouveau? This is the most important lesson to learn the differences.
1920s. In 1922 the tomb of King Tutankhamen was opened and the world went wild for all things Egyptian. Look out for jewellery in the shape of scarabs, pharaohs, pyramids or sphinxes. Colourfully enamelled pieces are particularly attractive.
In the 1930s art deco went floral. The colours softened. Think of the chintz colours popular in fabric and ceramics. In jewellery we see pieces made in Czechoslovakia wrought from filigree metal, enamelled and studded with colourful glass stones which have loads of flower decoration. Also, the Crinoline lady motif can be seen.
Retro / 1940s.
Not much happened in the 1940s due to the second world war but there was a slight change in jewellery taste. The art deco geometric shapes can still be seen but wrought into big bows and flowers in golden coloured metals. Sometimes known as Modern or Retro Modern style.
Furniture was utilitarian – plain brown and boring. Look at these magazines , absolutely everything was devoted to the war and the war effort at home.
A very distinct change after the war. We see space-age motifs such as rockets and start. Cowboys and cactus plants, poodles and ballerinas. The colours changed to red, grey, white. Marcasites came back in style and from the numbers, we still see today the diamante prom necklace must have been worn by every lady. Christian Dior helped with the introduction of the aura with its rainbow shades.
Flower power /1960s and 1970s.
The early 1960s had little innovation in style but as the decade progressed we see flower power coming in with hippy tastes and this lasted into the earlier part of the 1970s. Flower brooches and flowers engraved into silver bangles and lockets were quite hip.
Whilst popular throughout the 1900s, there was a huge influx of craftsman jewellery form the Scandinavian countries in the 1960s and 1970s. Most of these pieces are made of silver, some and enamelled or set with polished cabochon gems. David Andersen, Ivar Holt, George Jensen are amongst the collectable names.
Punk later 1970s and early 1980s.
Punk jewellery was cheap, homemade and disposable. We don’t see much of this about today as it just hasn’t lasted. At the time it was big news though
Art Deco Revival 1980s.
Big bold pieces came back into fashion and we wore lots of it. The jewellery was mainly costume and there is a lot of it about still. Look out for designer named pieces and those which are in perfect condition. 1980s jewellery is currently cheaper than many other eras, perhaps it’s the time to buy it up for the future. You can also find other 1980s style movements such as the New Romantics which tended to follow the fashionable music at the time.
You can see 20th century style is wide-ranging and diverse. I see no signs of this ending in the 21st century and look forward to seeing its evolution. If you have any really stylish pieces it would be great to hear about them, Just pop a comment below or find antiquesavenue on twiter