From delicate, intricately designed Victorian pieces to chunky and large Retro items, antique fine jewelry (British spelling: jewellery) is a popular collectible that represents the different eras in which it was worn. Jewelry has been made for centuries in a variety of materials and styles and is still evolving today. Although specific items (such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and brooches) have remained popular through the ages, they vary in design and materials depending on the era.
Queen Victoria’s rule began in 1837, marking the beginning of the Victorian period, which would last until 1901. During this time, a demand for jewelry in the mass market emerged, and semi-precious stones were often used to keep jewelry affordable. Mourning jewelry and pieces with sentimental motifs became popular.
The Edwardian period, which lasted from 1901 to 1910, produced delicate and elegant jewelry. Diamonds and pearls set in platinum were in vogue, as were chokers, negligee pendants, and long strings of pearls worn as necklaces.
Art Nouveau from the late 1890s until the mid-1910s usually featured natural designs, such as flowers or the female form. Glass and semi-precious stones were often used in Art Nouveau jewelry, and enamel was introduced.
Between the mid-1920s and '30s, Art Deco grew in popularity and featured geometric lines, sharp angles, and bright colors. Diamonds regained popularity and pearls continued to be in vogue, worn in a string as either a necklace or a bracelet.
Certain antique jewelry pieces have significant personal meanings (for example, love, religious devotion, or mourning) or practical applications (for example, fastening or securing) in addition to being aesthetically pleasing.