When a new style of ring emerges, or when the materials used in jewellery change, it is often because of a wider social, economic, or political shift. The United States economy was booming in the 1940’s after the end of WW2, and the fruits of prosperity, such as new cars, suburban houses, and jewellery were available to more people than ever before.
WW2 encouraged a social shift, as women came into the workforce en masse, whilst men were away in combat. This led to a new type of evening, where women would socialise after work with colleagues as we do today; mirroring how men would socialise after dinner, over a cigar and whiskey! This was a new generation of independent young women, who had for the first time a disposable income, and the choice to spend it how they saw fit. Many took inspiration from actresses on screen, such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, who wore the most fabulous jewels.
With both the Great Depression, and prohibition lifting within the United States, jewellers took it upon themselves to create a ring to match these exciting times! American firms such as Raymond Yard Inc., Seaman Schepps, Oscar Heyman, and of course Tiffany & Co., were the ultimate in high end fashion and all took up this challenge. Even top European jewellery firms, such as Mauboussin, were teaming up with American firms to get a slice of the action, bringing the trend back to Europe.
New innovations were created to enable ever more unique and incredible designs to manifest! This included the perfection of the invisible setting by Van Cleef & Arpels. This was a style of setting comprised of gemstones that were calibrated to very close tolerances, and cut with grooved girdles that were locked into a thin wire framework. This allowed large areas of the piece to be covered seamlessly with gems in an unbroken display of colour.
Rings were large and impressive, and whilst gemstones were in short supply following the war, to create this eye-catching look, a multitude of semi-precious stones such as citrine, amethyst, aquamarine, peridot, tourmaline, and topaz were used frequently to achieve this desired size. Platinum had been redirected to the war effort in the US, and was substituted by palladium in jewellery pieces, but it was gold that was very much the metal of the era. However, it had to be used sparingly as supply was limited, with a higher content of other metals used as alloys. This saw a surge of rose gold cocktail rings, due to an increased copper content!
For ladies who are naturally drawn to a bolder look, a cocktail design could be perfect for you! Defined as a bold and daring three-dimensional design, these rings certainly make a wonderful accompaniment to any outfit, and for every occasion!
Whilst jewellery has changed over the years, the strong, confident, feminine ideal that came about in the 1940's still remains. The cocktail ring has been found in many guises over the years but it is as relevant today as it ever was, as a bold statement of intent, of a daring to be your own woman and to wear what you want to wear! With the upcoming cocktail season upon us, come and view our collection of cocktails jewels to treat yourself, or a loved one, today.