The trend of embracing vintage looks in fashion and of mixing the fashion icons of periods in the past with modern or classic pieces is alive and well. Some of these jewelry trends bring an automatic association with a specific time period. Vintage costume jewelry can be from a variety of eras.
The term costume jewelry started to be applied to jewelry made from non-precious metals and stones in the 1920’s. The practice of wearing this type of jewelry had been in practice for much longer. Throughout history, jewelry has been worn as a way to display wealth and keep it close to you. The 1920’s brought about a trend of wearing jewelry as simply a fashion item to express individuality.
Most vintage costume jewelry is from the time period between the 1920’s and the early 1980’s. However, there is costume jewelry that dates back into the 1600’s in Europe. Though referred to by some as “fake” because the materials are not precious metals and gemstones, this type of jewelry can be of excellent quality and design.
Some artisans who created costume jewelry maintained a level of excellence and creativity that was above that of some artists working with more precious materials. Therefore, some of the vintage jewelry of all periods is very valuable in spite of being classified as costume jewelry.
Victorian looks are a common theme in costume jewelry from the first half of the twentieth century. Flapper looks in the twenties included long strings of beads and fringed items. Art deco designs extended to jewelry as much as art and architecture.
Vintage costume jewelry in the designs of animals such as frogs and fish were very popular as well in the twenties. Through the thirties and forties, Bakelite hard plastic jewelry was very popular, especially wide bangle bracelets that were stacked on the arm. At the same time, intricate rhinestone work was also embraced.
The fifties and sixties brought about matching sets of jewelry, including earrings, brooches, necklaces, and bracelets. Charm bracelets were a trend embraced by many, including celebrities. The seventies and eighties brought mood rings, puzzle rings, jade and turquoise looks, and more. Some forms of vintage costume jewelry were prestigious even when first created. Some fine jewelers branched out in to upper crust costume lines, using Swarovski crystals and metals plated in quality gold or silver to make high quality jewelry pieces that mimicked the fine jewelry looks of the day.