Cast your mind back to 2009. Florence and the Machine released their debut album, and suddenly names like Florence, Verity, and Ada were cool once more. This is where it all began. The rebirth of all things vintage. Brands like Cath Kidston capitalised on the new market for florals and tea dresses and the rest is history.
Today, however, we’re going to be talking about vintage jewellery. And not just the 1940s and 1950s classics like pearl earrings; the return of vintage jewellery has meant that everything from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and even ‘90s is now peak vintage style.
And what’s great about buying vintage jewellery? Well, it’s pre-loved of course and much better for the environment. Choosing to buy vintage jewellery instead of brand new jewellery will mean less pollution caused by production and transport of new items, as well as less clothing and jewellery going to landfill.
You can find vintage jewellery in dedicated vintage clothing stores, antique shops, charity shops and online marketplaces and e-stores that sell vintage goods.
1960s vintage jewellery
The vintage styles that are cropping up all over from the swinging sixties are all about being ‘groovy’. Oversized gemstones and lots of yellow gold feature prominently. The decade represented an explosion of colour in many aspects, and jewellery was no different. Use of gemstones like citrine, tourmaline, and garnet were utilised to create lots of richly-saturated oranges, purples, and browns of a range of shades.
Today, popular ‘60s jewellery that’s on the rise is oversized bangles, usually made from a plastic or gold, made with bright pops of colour. Graphic designs using bold colour blocking and (sometimes) clashing colours work together to make something almost ironic in its ugly-beauty that is undeniably gorgeous.
1970s vintage jewellery
What distinguishes the jewellery of the 1970s from that of the 1960s is largely colour and shape. The ‘70s saw a time when there was a definite departure away from the swirling rounds of the 1960s, and more structured designs were favoured. Colours were still bright and largely earth-toned, but the inclusion of cooler colours like blues and greens was beginning to occur.
The most popular pieces of ‘70s jewellery on the high-street today include: gold chains, hoop earrings, and all things oversized. Yes, big was still definitely best in the 1970s. Clusters are especially popular from this era. A focal gemstone like emeralds or sapphires is surrounded by diamonds either on a ring setting or around the circumference of a bracelet to stunning effect.
1980s vintage jewellery
It would be a mistake to talk about the 1980s, its fashion, and its jewellery without talking about Princess Diana. Iconic throughout the ‘80s and beyond, Diana’s influence on contemporary style as well as modern style cannot be understated. Her popularity was aided by her unique style and accessory choices. No piece was more iconic than her engagement ring, however, which inspired a trend in the 1980s that was reignited in the 2010s when Prince William used her ring to propose to Kate Middleton.
The ring in question, a sapphire and diamond cluster ring, sparked a huge revival of vintage sapphire rings as engagement rings, and the trend is still going strong today. Beyond this, the ‘80s saw some real fun being pumped into jewellery. Bright, neon colours, acrylic, and geometric shapes dominated the decade, and are popular with those today who want to channel their inner Madonna or Cyndi Lauper.
1990s vintage jewellery
For most people today, enjoying culture classics from the 1990s is a combination of nostalgia and irony, coming together to commemorate various stages of their youth. While the punk scene was on the rise and skater culture reigned supreme, jewellery was split in two directions. One side saw chokers and butterfly hair clips and yin yang symbols, and the other side was more ‘futuristic’, for the ‘90s anyway.
A lot of luxury jeweller especially was focused on being more minimalistic than the previous decades. Jewellery was more appropriately sized, often with smaller designs being preferable over the oversized looks of the past. Today, both sides of this spectrum are adored by popular culture. There isn’t a teenager out there at the minute who hasn’t at some point sported a ‘90s style choker, and minimalism is the new normal when it comes to all things jewellery, fashion, and design.
While the only constant is change, it’s certainly clear to see how each decade influences the ones that come after it. Every now and then, there are real change-makers who stir up the pot, like Florence Welch, and have us reaching to the past for inspiration for the future.
The return of vintage jewellery is great news for the planet. Choosing to buy true vintage items means clothing gets a second chance (and even third and fourth) meaning less damage is done to the environment and making buying jewellery a more sustainable choice.
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