What is Estate Jewelry and The Different Time Periods We Hear About?

A few terms you will hear in period jewelry: Vintage-meaning at least 20 years old; Antique- pieces at least 100 years old; Estate Jewelry- any jewelry that is second hand (can be antique, vintage, or modern).

Time Periods:

Georgian (1714-1837)-A major hallmark of Georgian jewelry is stones of varied shapes and sizes. Jewelry was made to fit a particular stone, not the other way around. Often the stones were set with foil to bring out their sparkle and brilliance. Rare to find in decent condition.

Edwardian (1901-1915)- It was during this time that platinum began to appear in jewelry. Due to its light weight and strength, platinum could be used to create airy, light, and highly detailed pieces. This period also saw the invention of the Milgrain technique, which creates a “beaded” look on the edges of jewelry settings.

Victorian (1837-1901)-This ushered in the popularity of mourning jewelry, often set with dark onyx and featuring macabre motifs such as skulls and skeletons. When the Queen’s mourning period came to an end, jewelry featuring lighter themes came into style. Flowers, animals, insects, and stars were some of the most used motifs.

Art Nouveau (1890-1914)-Art Nouveau period began in Europe. Soft curves, fluid lines, and natural themes were the hallmarks of this style. Common motifs were the female nude, butterflies, poppies, orchids, and dragonflies. Hand-crafting techniques such as enameling became immensely popular during this period.

Art Deco (1920-1939)- Highly sought after in today’s market. First appeared in France and was focused on geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetry. Art Deco jewelry of this period displays use of colored gemstones, and vibrant motifs. Diamonds were used prolifically, and the metal of choice was platinum. Jewelry of this period features Old European Cut Diamonds, as well as sapphire, emerald, and ruby accents. Retro (1940s-1950s)- Big and bold cocktail rings and statement pieces. Large gems of amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, ruby, and topaz set in gold. The use of rose, yellow, and white gold gained popularity during this time period.

Modern (1970-current)- Many mid-century pieces were bold and bright, and drew the eye with textured metals and jagged lines. Abstract, organic-shaped and richly textured yellow gold jewelry, dotted with colorful gemstones, were the norm. In the late 1970s, disco-inspired jewelry was very popular. Disco jewelry featured flashy designs and lots of sparkle. It was common to see women wearing long, dangling earrings, layering necklaces, and chokers.