Antique jewelry through the ages: Part one...

By: Carly Hill - Staff Writer • Jul 17, 2012 • 0 Comments

Jewelry has been worn and cherished since the beginning of time.  It is fascinating to take a peek at the history of jewelry and see how its changed over the years.  It’s also interesting to see how jewelry trends come back into style time and time again.  Debbie, owner of Wonders of Woodland in Nashville Tennessee said that antique jewelry is wonderful to collect because it’s a treasure that you can take with you everywhere you go.

Enjoy this quick guide that gives you a brief look at jewelry style in each time period.

Medieval Jewelry

Men had bejeweled weaponry and wore signet rings and women wore all sorts of jewelry.  Grave goods found from the 6th or 7th century reveals a woman buried with a necklace, bracelet, earrings, comb, hairpins, and more.  At this time, Celts jewelry was defined by patterns.  Merovingian jewelry featured animal themes.  In Byzantine jewelry, religious themes were very popular.


Gothic Jewelry

During the 14th and 15th century, human figures were found in jewelry.  Jewelry was worn in excess.  Women would wear rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, etc.  Jewelry at this time was heavily influenced by the gothic architecture. 


Baroque Jewelry

 From 1620 – 1700, a new style of jewelry emerged in Italy and spread quickly.  The style was characterized by “lively, curved, and exuberant forms by vigorous movement, and by rich ornament, based on classical sources.”*  This was the period of “less is more.”  Wearing pearls and gemstones became popular.


Renaissance Jewelry

By the 17th century, gemstones and their setting were the stars.  Rings featured large stones and jewelers produced sets of matching jewelry, such as a diamond tiara with diamond earrings, a diamond necklace, and a diamond brooch.  Costume jewelry also emerged at this time – featuring less expensive glass beads.


Rococo Jewelry

Rococo jewelry was around from 1720 – 1740.  It was a new wave of style, divorcing from the symmetrical gemstone classics and making people expect the unexpected.  Jewelry was made of materials such as feathers, ribbons, and foliage even.  This style was revived in the second quarter of the 19th century and called “revived rococo.”


Empire Jewelry

Between 1798 and 1815, mosaics were prominent in jewelry.  Pietra Dura was a technique used where flakes and chips of colored marble were pressed into hot wax,  Glass mosaics, of course, were made the same way, but with small pieces of glass.


*The antique fire opal and moonstone pendant, circa 1905 pictured above, is available from A la Vielle Russie, right here.

Check back in a few days for the rest of the list.  Now that you’re an antique jewelry expert, can you identify which time period your antique jewelry came from?  If you don’t own any, now is a great time to start collecting.  For now, find a the exquisite collection of jewelry we have here at Latique Antiques…  


*Resource: Antique jewelry glossary