20th Century Jewelry

The twentieth century was a time of great creativity in jewelry design. Early 1900s jewelry reflected trends from Art Deco with an emphasis on bold, geometric designs. Lines were straight and linear, and the shape of gemstones often reflected this as well. In the late 1930s, Hollywood became the influence of Retro Jewelry, which is easily identifiable by the use of bright, highly polished yellow, rose and green gold. Common design themes from this era include wide gold bracelets, oversized dress clips and the use of flowers. The time after World War II was a decade of prosperity and a growing middle class, and jewelry designs reflected this new found wealth. As American women returned to their desires for femininity and classic glamour, jewelry of this era featured an abundance of gemstones set in flashy, dramatic designs, with a large focus on diamonds. As platinum became more accessible after its scarcity throughout WWII, it became the most common metal for jewelry settings, which is a style that still remains popular today. Along with classic designs, this modern era in jewelry also showcased a greater variation in textures and introduced the style of long necklaces, medallion pendants and oversized earrings. The most influential makers of 20th century jewelry include Van Cleef and Arpel, Bulgari, David Webb, Harry Winston and Kutchinsky.


20th Century Jewelry is featured in Edition: The Best of the Met

"The Third Fake Maharaja" Brooch, William Harper (1986)
Albert Paley, Ring (1974)
Bruno Martinazzi, Eco Ring (1992)
Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, Timepiece (1988)
Peter Skubic, Brooch (1995)