Retro Era Jewelry

Retro era jewelry can be referred to as pieces made in the 1940s all the way up to the 1980s, and features materials such as gold, silver, plastic, ribbon, rope, glass and porcelain. The styles of these pieces vary greatly during this period in time depending on the current trends during that decade – from the elegant and classic looks inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age all the way to the edgy punk styles of the 80s.

Everything and anything was possible when it came to vintage accessories during this period making it an exciting time for fashion enthusiasts.

The 1950s was marked by a shift away from previous decades style with bolder and bigger statement pieces made out of eccentric materials like lucite. Designs such as colorful butterfly pendants on chains or hoop earrings with dangling red roses became popular among fashionista’s of that time. However, not all pieces were eccentric as classic pearl necklaces also enjoyed a resurgence due to the influence of iconic style icons like Grace Kelly.

During the 1960s new technologies like acrylic plastics allowed people to hand craft unusual shapes for jewellery which sooner became a trend in its own right, creating a futuristic look. Popular items during this period included dramatic geometric pins featuring hard edges in both bright colors or transparent hues.

Besides being functional these objects had an avant-garde appreciation by modern art lovers who oftentimes collected them like art pieces because they embodied creative expressionism through design at that point in time Jewellery made out of beads like cascading necklaces were also deemed fashionable due to hippie culture’s wide influence.

In conclusion retro era jewellery covers a plethora of different styles based on their respective cultural circumstances at one point in history, even though trends certainly change throughtout years there is always something special about grabbing hold onto something from times gone bye no matter if you are after an eclectic look or just drawn towards vintage nostalgia. Therefore it is no surprise why seeing these magnificent artistic creations still remains awe inspiring even today.

Retro Jewelry Designers

Retro era jewelry was heavily influenced by a variety of fashion designers, from the famous Coco Chanel to the not so well-known Ruth Garfinkle. Below are some of the most influential designers who contributed to the look and feel of retro-style jewelry.

  • Coco Chanel – Chanel is credited with popularizing costume and fashion jewelry in the 1920s to 30s when she began producing necklaces, rings and earrings made of gold and crystal beads as an affordable option for her clients. Her iconic designs remain popular today.
  • Victor Velyan – In 1934 Victor Velyan founded his company based out of Los Angeles and became for known for his vibrant colored pieces featuring pearl encrusted motifs. He found early success creating pieces using semi precious stones such as jade and amazonite.
  • Hattie Carnegie – This Austrian born designer launched her American business in 1907 which quickly flourished due to her hand crafted necklaces, bracelets, brooches and hair ornaments made from intricate rhinestone set designs.
  • Ruth Garfinkle – Ruth launched her first jewelry design “strand” in 1955; it consisted of lucite necklaces with matching earrings that were marked with an ‘RG’ logo. The strands took Hollywood by storm, being worn by celebrities such as Lana Turner and Sophia Loren.

This just scratches the surface surface as a number of other influential designers had a impact on Retro Era Jewelry design. Among them include Christian Dior whose timeless loves knot design have become easily recognizable along with Hattie Carnegie’s focus on organic shapes taken directly from nature such as leaves and flower petals.

Also Miriam Haskell who’s beaded peacock feather designs together with Coro’s iconic use of multicolored glass beads gave rise to vintage costume jewelry boom. Finally Bakelite has become a sought after material due its rarity; its bright colors and space age shape dominates mid century modern jewelry design.

Craftsmanship of Retro Era Jewelry

Retro era jewelry is known for its unique craftsmanship. The period in fashion history, which lasted from 1940s to the 1970s, was a time when artisans crafted beautiful items of jewelry by employing stylish new techniques and materials. This article will look at some of the most common techniques used for creating retro era jewelry, as well look at the different elements and designs they utilized.


  • Crystal beads were frequently used for making statement pieces.
  • Lucite was favored as a lightweight material for delicate designs.
  • Textures such as mother-of-pearl shells, cloisonné enamel and Italian resin were also popular choices.


The common design elements used during the retro era included floral motifs, cabochon gemstones, cameos and more intricate handwork that made use of textiles and various metals to achieve a unique look. Creative Wire-wrapping was also employed often, where intricate metal wires would be manipulated into interesting shapes around colored acrylic stones or crystal beads.


The use of rhinestones in jewelry making found popularity in the 1950’s due to their affordability compared with real diamonds or precious gemstones; this technique became widely practiced and created numerous fashionable pieces from costume jewelry to designer signed pieces. Rhinestones are typically cut glass that come in a variety of colors and shapes and are typically set with cups or prongs into metal settings.

Wearing Retro Jewelry

Retro jewelry is one of the more popular fashion trends of late, as people have begun to look back fondly on the iconography and design elements from a bygone era. Many pieces available from this period are often characterized by bold shapes, bright colors, and creative finishes. The iconic pieces still drive the market today and remain one of the most sought after styles of jewelry amongst collectors and trendsetters alike.

The Use Of Color

In past decades retro jewelry typically looked en vogue when paired with small, clustering touches of simple colors such as jade green or sapphire blue. Oversaturated pinks, oranges, reds and yellows were made possible by an infusion in recent years for multi-colored metals that led to this evolving trend.

Karl Austrian Retro Costume Jewelry

The modern color palate has been extended even further with the advent of Cubic Zirconia stones being included in signature pieces. Luxury colored stones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires have replaced some of the more common synthetic ones – resulting in increased demand for these fashionable items worldwide.

Softening Edges

Whilst certain vibes were created due to anatomical curves being used within pins, pendants, earrings and other forms of vintage jewelry; amethyst jewel encased designs softened them through appearing smoother than their counterparts at the time, enhancing yet subtly disguising sharp edges that once stood out as overly angular.

In particular this served to polish off a final touch that helped make this retro styling more sought after for formal outings or office environments which desired something unique but ultimately practical in terms of everyday wear.

Statement Pieces

It has become increasingly evident that statement jewelry is becoming ever popular amongst those seeking to express themselves through wearable art pieces combining both classic longevity with avant-garde edge ready for any occasion wanting a strong impression left upon others.

This communicates through aesthetic usage symbolism created during lasting periods which happily reflect another time when life seemed simpler for many – however also punctuated heavily by larger events ensuing all throughout retro eras history itself From bold lockets symbolic not only then but also now up until right now – vintage era style is back.

Design Elements of Retro Era Jewelry

The Retro Era, or ‘Golden Age of Glamour’, is an important period in the history of jewelry design. This age was a time of dramatic social and economic change, when women would take to wearing oversized outfits and intricate hair styles. Jewelry from this era stands out for its distinct design elements, including specific shapes, colors and forms.

Materials Used in Retro Jewelry

Jewelry that stands out as representing the Retro era is usually made using materials like gold, silver, and other metals layered together with stones or crystals. Bakelite was a very popular material during this time period; it bares resemblance to plastic yet has an ornate look created by ribs and layers embedded within it.

Other materials used include jade or ivory for clips and pins, brilliants (diamond simulants) set within sterling silver or gold filled settings. Using these materials in combination created show-stopping designs that were known for their timeless beauty.

Specific Shapes Encountered During The Retro Era

Designers during the Retro era were known for creating extraordinary pieces with unique details. This can be observed through various shapes that often featured geometric patterns such as curves, ovals and circles.

These figures highlighted the symmetry between curves found in nature whilst making use of sharp angles/pointed edges – which allowed jewelry to shine brighter. Brooches and pins were particularly notable in showcasing these shapes, however they weren’t exclusive to them and could also be found on earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Colors Associated With This Time Period

Brilliant colors gave life to numerous designs throughout this age; they represented both glamour otherwise seen in Hollywood films but also patriotic values shared between many countries at the time due to WWII tensions. Red/pink tones especially seemed to reign supreme during this era as they popularized brooches which featured vibrant & eye-catching floral work – especially meant for occasions such as evening wear parties given by bourgeois families at night brunches/cocktail hour gatherings.

Another color that shined during this time period was green which represented wealth due to its association with banker’s vault entrances; now one can spot magnificent retro pieces adorned with statement emeralds sometimes even diamonds intertwined within them for added opulence.

Values of Retro Era Jewelry

Retro Era jewelry is seen as a special collector’s item due to the design styles that existed during that particular period of time. The Retro Era ran from 1935 to 1950 and was characterized by colorful floral accents, large bold blocks of color, geometric shapes, incorporated plastics, and sterling silver settings.

During the Retro Era certain gemstones also featured prominently in jewelry designs, with pieces sometimes featuring more than one type of stone – turquoise, amber, emeralds, and sapphires were commonly used.

Assessing the value of a piece of Retro jewelry can be tricky. It often involves researching the materials used in its creation as well as any stamps or markings indicating provenance.

A number of factors need to be taken into account when assessing value including age, condition, rarity and collectability. Rarity plays an important part in determining value; if a piece is one-of-a-kind or limited in quantity it will command a higher price than other pieces from the same era which might have been more common throughout the market at the time.

Condition is also important when assessing value – if a piece has become damaged over time through general wear and tear then this will affect its monetary value drastically. Similarly if damage has been inflicted deliberately (such as engraving names etc.)

this should be taken into consideration and factored into any valuation you may undertake. If repairs have been undertaken or original parts replaced over time then these factors will come into play too so it’s always important to research not only who created the piece but also who worked on it previously too.

Given its increasing rarity and intrinsic beauty many consider retro era jewelry to be some of the most valuable items available on today’s market because of their unique history and style – but it can take significant research in order to accurately assess their true worth.

Preservation and Care

Retro jewelry pieces hold a special place in many people’s hearts and remain popular even to this day. Many times, the jewelry is passed down through generations and can become quite valuable due to its historic value. Taking proper care of it and preserving it to its original shine is important for both sentimental value as well as increasing its overall worth. Here are some simple tips on how to preserve your retro jewelry pieces:

  • Keep your items in an air-tight box or container when not wearing them.
  • Constant contact with things like perfume, sweat, water, makeup, etc., should be avoided.
  • Polish the piece with a cloth specifically designed for cleaning antiques or sterling silver products.
Egyptian Revival Medallion Retro Brooch Costume Jewelry

An important part of caring for vintage items is visiting a professional jeweler regularly so that he/she can assess the condition of the goods. Jewelers are specially trained to handle aging metals such as gold and silver and typically have access to higher quality cleaning agents that will help gain back some of the luster lost over time.

Make sure that any replacement parts made of lower quality materials do not affect the authenticity of the item; look for plating, cheap beads, etc., that may have been used at some point during repairs. If you plan on having certain parts replaced with something more authentic – such as replacing cheap stones with antique gems – make sure you find qualified professionals who can perform the job properly.

Products that contain high levels of acidity, such as detergent or alcohol-based cleaners, should never be used; they might end up damaging what little material remains on the surface of your precious antique piece instead. Natural products such as lemon juice or vinegar can be good supplementary alternatives but do tend to dissolve their intended surfaces if left too long without wiping off.

Finally, storing retro pieces in lined boxes stuffed with cotton balls is an extremely effective way to keep them looking great through ages. Cotton balls help absorb moisture from humidity and keep items free from dust; they also provide cushioning which prevents your pieces from banging against each other during transport or simple while being stored away in closets or chests.

Collecting Retro Era Jewelry

Understanding the Retro Era

The Retro Era typically covers the time period from around 1935 to 1950 and is characterized by exuberant jewelry designs created with colored gemstones, diamonds, and precious metals. During this period, commercial jewelry production saw a surge of creativity and experimentation thanks to advancements in manufacturing technology. This allowed craftsmen to create intricate and unique pieces that had never before been seen.

In addition, World War II created a sense of patriotism which was reflected in the simplistic and often muted designs of much of the jewelry from this era. Men’s military-style jewelry also grew in popularity during this period as a way to honor their service.

Developing an Interest in Collecting Retro Jewelry

Collecting Retro Era jewelry is often initiated through random purchases at antique shops or estate sales – providing collectors with the thrill of uncovering vintage gems that they may have never seen before. As interest in collecting builds, it is important for enthusiasts to do their own research on designers and manufacturers from this time period so that they can begin to build more focused collections on specific periods or designers.

Many vintage fashion magazines such as Vogue are available online with detailed information on designer trends from this period which can be extremely helpful when building a collection.

Sourcing Quality Pieces

Retro Era jewelry pieces offer many hidden treasures for collectors however it is important to look past the superficial characteristics of each piece when sourcing quality items. Many original pieces may appear tarnished or discolored however these blemishes can often be cleaned or fixed easily without compromising any structural integrity.

Before purchasing any items, make sure to carefully check for any damages such as missing stones or broken clasps as these issues require more costly repairs to fix. Furthermore; ensure that you buy pieces from reputable dealers who guarantee authenticity – counterfeit retro era jewelry has become increasingly prevalent online so extra caution should be taken when making purchases over the internet.

Final Thoughts

Retro jewelry from the 1950s had a remarkable style and quality, giving it a timeless appeal even today. Jewelry was created using high-grade materials like gold and sterling silver, and also featured bright flowers made of enamel, sparkling gems, and artfully crafted details.

The retro era was an age of elegance and fortune, with glamorous designs inspired by the Hollywood stars of the day like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn. Jewelry could serve as an expression of love between friends or lovers, commemorating special occasions like graduations or weddings.

The cycle of fashion trends is ever-evolving but some retro styles have proven to be timeless. Retro jewelry has been recreated in modern designs that feature all of its classic beauty but with the added touch of modern sophistication.

A simple pair of pearl earrings or a gold necklace can give anyone an elegant look that will surely stand out at any event from birthdays to black tie affairs. Not only are these vintage pieces fashionable pieces for special occasions but they can also be converted into casual everyday looks depending on what you’re wearing them with; from jeans and t-shirts to dressy work outfits there’s something for everyone.

The best thing about recent years is that while re-invigorating these classic vintage styles many companies are also creating eco-friendly versions of their designs by using recycled metals rather than depleting natural resources; this makes them more sustainable and helps protect our environment. The preservation of our beautiful planet will ensure that these amazing retro jewelries will remain to inspire generations to come.

With a plethora of options available out there for anyone looking for a special piece that truly stands out it’s sure to make each wearer feel unique in their own way; after all it’s always fashionable to be stylish.