Good morning, my darlings! Today we’re going to talk about the noble necklace: more specifically, notable styles of necklaces throughout history, as illustrated by the glorious inventory of renowned jewelry dealer, M. Khordipour.
We’re starting with two fantastic (and very different) examples of Victorian necklaces! The first one is a wonderful example of the sentimentality of the Victorian era. In a time when what one said out loud was carefully regulated by societal rules, inanimate objects – like what one wore and how – took on great meaning.
This black enamel and diamond locket is a wonderful example of Victorian sentimental jewelry. It was probably made to hold a likeness or a memento of a loved one – a miniature painting or a lock of hair. The black enamel suggests that it may have been a mourning piece, worn in tribute to a loved one lost. Whatever its original intention, the vivid contrast of the yellow gold, pristine black enamel, and bright diamonds makes it a striking and wearable piece.
The second Victorian piece we’re looking at fits into a category of jewelry that you know I adore: archaeological revival.
In the mid 1800’s, an Italian jeweler named Fortunato Pio Castellani, perfected the technique of creating jewelry in a style inspired by the ancient Etruscan jewels of the past. He’d been interested in designs inspired by antiquity for some time, but his personal style really flourished after he and his sons were given access to a large collection of artifacts by the papal bank, which had seized them from a bankrupt collector.
When the Victorian world – already in love with Egyptian revival styles – saw Castellani’s Etruscan-style jewels, they feel in love. The style became wildly popular, influencing the designs of other makers of the time.
This exquisite Victorian Etruscan revival set (I know earrings are off topic, but I couldn’t resist including them) is by French goldsmith, Eugène Fontenay. He was also known for his work in the archaeological revival style – and for creating this emerald and diamond tiara for Empress Eugenie.
The invention of the oxyacetylene torch in 1903 meant that platinum jewelry exploded onto the scene in the Edwardian era, inspiring the creation of designs that took advantage of the strong, bright, beautiful metal’s unique properties. Edwardian jewelry is delicate, with lots of flourishes, garlands, bows, and lace-like platinum openwork frequently embellished with diamonds.
Edwardian jewelry is not hard to love.
Above, you can see two M Khordipour beauties from the Edwardian era. The pendant on the right is a perfect example of the airy, spun-sugar delicacy that was made possible in the Edwardian era by advances in platinum-working technology. This piece features the textbook Edwardian platinum openwork, accented by onyx, pearls, and diamonds.
The other necklace – more accurately called a collier-de-chien because of its tight fit – is so spectacular we needed to see it twice. This close-fitting style was in vogue in the Edwardian era as well, a trend imported from France.
Just LOOK at those diamond bows. Can you even?
The Art Nouveau aesthetic movement flourished between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and is characterized by soft, flowing lines and a reverence for nature (animals, plants, and the female body, in particular).
The two necklaces above encapsulate the Art Nouveau look in the rounded fullness of their curved gold links and the way the chain would have caressed the body when worn.
The all-gold necklace dates to 1890, and its links – although not specifically foliate – feature a fecund curvaceousness that reveals its era. The other necklace, with gold links, pearls, and green jade beads, dates to 1910 and is the product of an English offshoot of the Art Nouveau movement called Arts and Crafts: the same Art Nouveau interest in nature is present, along with a fascination with craftsmanship.
Art Deco! The 1920’s – 1940s. An era of daring hemlines, vibrant colors, global inspiration, and the dawn of the machine age.
Indian inspiration! Bold color juxtapositions punctuated with black onyx! Clean lines and dramatic, geometric motifs! Baguette diamonds, Mughal emeralds, longer necklaces to go with shorter dresses! So much to love, I can’t even discuss it coherently.
I try not to play favorites – and there are certainly things I love about the necklaces of every era – but you know I adore Art Deco. There were a lot of trends that are considered iconic of the Art Deco era, and so many of them are represented at M. Khordipour. Here are direct links to the two above: onyx and emerald, and turquoise beads.
Mid-century jewelry – which is typically means pieces from the 1950’s and 1960’s – is big, bold, and often sculptural. Think Betty Draper at a cocktail party. Florals are big, as are bright color combinations using stones like amethyst, turquoise, coral, rubies, and sapphires alongside diamonds.
Yellow gold is huge, especially in the 1940’s (retro jewelry) and carrying over into the 1950’s, since the US Government declares platinum to be a “strategic mineral” during World War II, which prohibited its use as a jewelry material. The white metal look takes a while to come back into style. This set by Van Cleef and Arpels features shades of coral in yellow gold with diamonds.
1970’s – 1980’s
In the 1970’s, jewelry goes funky and free right along with fashion – this distinctive art glass necklace is a wonderful example. There’s an explosion of new materials, increasingly sculptural forms, designs that look like nothing that’s come before. Necklaces are often long and/or layered; gold is big, as are chains, color, and pieces with movement.
Gold stays into the 1980’s, but gets chunkier and more industrial as shoulder pads are added into power suits.
After that: contemporary jewelry! Necklaces into infinity and beyond.
I love seeing the way that jewelry trends evolve, and there’s no better way that looking at similar pieces through time all together. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour through necklace styles of history with M. Khordipour!
Here’s a few of the pretties from EDJ, because you know I can never resist an opportunity to look at antique engagement rings. You can find these beauties (and many more) here.
This post is brought to you by M. Khordipour.
Don’t miss your chance to enter my giveaway! You could win a rose gold and diamond ring by Jennie Kwon.