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Jewelry Periods – Modern Jewels

I  signed up for the Christies History of Jewelry Design course. The course is delivered via Canvas, an online learning platform and is facilitated by Vanessa Cron, an independent Jewelry Historian who delivers the course over 6 bite sized modules covering the History of Jewelry design from 1880 till today.   

Over the course of 6 weeks, you go on a discovery journey uncovering some facts, stories and geopolitical context around the history of jewelry design from the Belle Epoque era all the way to the contemporary period. 

This is the 5’th blogpost in this series, all about Modern Jewelry with lots of familiar pieces that are extremely popular till date..

5 – Modern Jewelry – 1960-1970

The Jewelry of this period depict the post war air and the rebellious vibes lead by the young and wild generation. Freedom of choice and expression was reflected in the design aesthetics of this period both in fashion, jewelry and the arts. This is the time of statement heavily beaded jewelry and the peace sign going viral!

Jewelry combined boldness in design and styling. Women did not fear mixing fine with costume jewels.

Color contrasts in fashion called for the same in jewelry. Opaque gemstones were popular including coral, onyx and lapis. 

In the 60’s, the Parure (Jewelry suites) saw a comeback both in colorful and grand manner (all white) forms. Cultured Pearls were widely accessible and the manufacturing of imitation pearls meant that all women can afford a triple strand pearl necklace similar to the iconic ones of Jacqueline Kennedy, who never seemed to take them off. Fun Fact, Jackie’s pearls were in fact faux pearls made of painted glass!

The 70’s were all about the big and bold. Yellow gold was back in fashion and diamonds became more accessible. Jewelry designers experimented with yellow gold set with diamonds for the first time, contrary to the traditional white jewels, which seemed too traditional and cold. 

Oversized hoops for the short hair, oversized cuffs and long chains were a 70’s staple.

It was during the modern jewelry era when many classic and timeless designs, highly popular today, were introduced by renowned designers and jewelry houses. 

Aldo Cipullo’s “love” and “Juste Un Clou” bracelets, Elsa Peretti’s “Bone” cuffs, Paloma Picasso for Tiffany, Van Cleef’s “Alhmabra” collection and Boucheron’s “Sperpenti” are to name a few. 

Of the magnificent jewels of the 1970’s was Liz Taylor’s 40th birthday present given to her by her husband Richard Burton.  The gift was an incredible Bulgari Sapphire and Diamond Sautoir featuring a massive octagonal pendant festooned with a 65-carat sugarloaf cabochon Burmese sapphire and encrusted all over with diamonds and smaller sapphires.

This necklace is currently part of the Bulgari Heritage collection after being bought back in Auction for a whopping $6mn in 2011. 



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