The new jewellery styles of the 1940s heralded the end of the Art Deco period, which had been the prevailing style of the previous two decades. During the 1940s daring jewellery creations emphasised adventurous colour and design choices, often in sculptural three-dimensional forms. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Europe went straight from the Great Depression directly into World War II. As most of the platinum and a great deal of the gold and silver were needed to fund the war, this meant that coloured gold was back in contemporary use for the first time in several decades.
Bracelets were wide and three-dimensional in the early 1940s, these included linked bracelets and bangles which were worn both over gloves and on unadorned wrists. Necklaces were typically worn high up on the neck, while brooches were large, usually worn on shoulders of day and evening attire. Large finger rings with square-edged stones and layered or stepped edges were popular, substantial forms in textured gold are synonymous with this style.
Precious gemstones became very rare in the period, due to the difficulty of procuring them during the war. However in the 1930s hundreds of new gemstone deposits were discovered in Brazil. These newly discovered mines brought a cornucopia of larger coloured stones which were set into 1940s jewellery with a wonderfully polychromatic effect. These included amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, kunzite and topaz.
As the 1940s progressed and the war ended, changes which had occurred in society were echoed in the production of jewellery, with design features such as textured gold formed into scrolls, ribbons and bows in particular. While clothing had become more masculine, jewellery became more feminine. In addition to stylised flowers, birds and animals, popular motifs included buckles or fabric-like folds such as drapes and pleats.
The post-war period was a time of regeneration and renewal. While austerity continued, the mood was buoyant resulting in jewellery that was bold and confident in design. This is where modernist style truly evolved into the mainstream, exemplified by iconic designs from the great jewellery houses of the time; Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, Garrard, Harry Winston, Mellerio, Tiffany and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Intrigued by bold and beautiful designs set with a rainbow of gemstones? These vintage jewels are the perfect accessory to compliment any ensemble. Browse and shop our extensive collection online, or visit us in store.