A Tiny history of Jewelry in the Western World
Holloware: Tea Sets, Claret Jugs, Trays, Waiters, Vestas, Humidors, Card and Cigarette cases, Candlesticks, Vases, Object of Vertu, Spanish Colonial Frames, statues, Baby Gifts, Ecclesiastical Silver,
The beginnings of Empire in Britain ushered in an age of travel, wealth and trade previously unimaginable. As the English garnered wealth, they became enthusiastic consumers and collectors of elegant jewelry in specific styles and materials.
Rose cut diamonds mounted in silver topped gold, cameos, garnets, pearls, turquoise and pink topaz graced the necks, ears and wrists of women, and men were heavily ornamented, too, with fobs, rings, golden quizzing glasses, walking canes, and bejeweled buttons found their way in to shops and collections.
Victorian:The 19th century was dominated by the power of Britain, and its
influence on markets worldwide. The snake, symbol of eternal love mixed with other sentimental, classical and romantic themes, evolving into a style of heavier gold jewelry, set with colored stones, in symbolic motifs, evoking literature, myth and legend.
The untimely death of Prince Albert threw the British Empire into a mourning period for decades, and brought the concept of mourning jewelry and accessories from a necessary personal situation into a public display in jet, hair jewelry, bog oak, and enamel.
The requisite tour of Europe which prepared young men, and later young women for a life of culture and refinement also brought more riches of coral, cameos, and granulation from Italy, enameled gold from France, garnets from Bohemia, Renaissance revival jewels from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Further Afield, Moghul Diamond and colored stone jewelry from India, Jade from China, Ivory and Diamonds from Africa, silver and agate from Scotland, filigree from Spain, pearls from the Indian oceans and the south seas, Jewelry mined from the gold hills of California and Alaska, were coveted and collectible prizes.
The diamond industry, with its newfound riches, cutting expertise, and distribution ability, selected a handy quote from the Poem, "the Fairie Queen", and convinced people worldwide that opals were bad luck and a diamond the only stone for an engagement ring.
The Edwardian Period: 1901 ushered in a new century, and a new, enlightenment, with progressive ideas about child labor, voting and property rights, and the literal "Loosening" of women's clothing, society's rules, and other social progress, the market for jewelry expanded at an increasing pace, tools and machinery improved. Platinum became practical in the first decade of the 20th Century and the look of Jewelry “lightened” up, lacy designs set with the newly available South African diamonds and modern cutting techniques opened up a revolution in jewelry accessibility, supply, and wearability.
Art Deco: The Jazz age, with cars for the masses, buildings that scraped the sky, and renewed industrial vigor also promoted votes , cigarettes, short hair, and revolutionary clothing for women.
The mass consciousness reflected a view of industry and progress as savior, and the jewels of the era kept step with the times. Diamonds set in architectural platinum mountings bedecked women and men alike.
The other silver that changed the world of jewelry was the silver screen. Silent stars became idols, and were copied by the rich and poor. Even the Crash of 1929 and the ensuing world depression did not kill the Hollywood glitz and Busby Berkeley inspired masses worldwide with the Art Deco ethos. Soon after the introduction of “talkies”, the movie musical took its place, with the gowns, jewels, and a “Dinner at Eight” ethos that encouraged glitter and glitz.
Retro: Airplane Manufacture demanded Platinum for its combination of strength and lightness, so the precious metal became rare, even before it was commandeered for war work. Grandmother's gold came out of the vault to be transformed into a new look in jewelry. Large polished surfaces of gold graced jackets, wrists, and accessories for the modern woman of the 1940's. Lorraine Day, Loretta Young, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth sported witty brooches, and cleverly designed Cigarette cases.
At the end of the War, redistribution of borders, wealth, and commodities entirely changed the economics of the jeweler’s art and trade. The GI bill, suburban expansion, and the explosion of a middle class market for engagement and wedding rings demanded mass jewelry merchandising in all price categories.
Hollywood continued to influence America's taste in Jewels, with platinum returning, inspiring new generations of designers.
The Movements Moderne
Taxco, Mexico perches on an enormous deposit of silver ore.
As early as the 1930s, inspired by designers worldwide, William Spratling set up shop in Taxco, added his own inimitable flare and attracted a community of remarkable silversmiths whose work is still timeless.
Artists including Margot de Taxco, Antonio Pineda, Los Castillo, Hector Aguilar, created a wave of inspiration and an extraordinary legacy of home furnishings, table accents, jewelry for men and women, and a truly modern aesthetic in silver, copper gold, stones and wood.
Your place in History: The expert sales staff at Things Finer would be happy to help you find just the right pieces from any era to complement your personal style and aesthetic…or to find it.
Appearance isn't everything, but great confidence can come
from accessorizing with the perfect jewelry choice-jewelry, in which you feel
comfortable, but maybe a bit more together, maybe a bit more you.
Table Silver: Whether you prefer Simple Adam Lines, or the complexity of
Repousse, and Victorian elegance, Things Finer stocks flatware and tableware of every sort.
We can commission engraved Bolivian 18th Century Style Service Plates, and engraved silver gifts from Reed and Barton.
Including Chalices, Monstrances, and Ciboria can all be found in our varied inventory most of the time.