Throughout time jewellery design and the materials used have reflected the current themes in both nature and society. The 1970s were redefining as they encompassed powerful social transitions such as the feminist and hippie movement giving rise to the slogan, ‘flower power’. These redefining concepts were beautifully echoed in the jewellery designs of the time and went against the norms of the establishment.
The general theme of the 1970s was statement jewellery. Pieces were large and attention grabbing in both scale, design and the gemstones chosen. Beloved of Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand, 1970s jewellery was epitomised by Van Cleef & Arpels’ lustrously gold chains which were worn in multiples, adorned with large intensely coloured gemstones often featured in bombé designs. Yellow gold was the preferred choice of precious metal in this era as it was distinctive and also practical. Gold prices were very low post 1971 due to President Nixon dissolving the gold standard in the US.
During this era new techniques were pioneered. Sterlé (1905 - 1978), an important Parisian jeweller, who designed jewellery for both Boucheron and Chaumet established his own company in 1934. His jewellery is known for being technically advanced as he challenged conventional jewellery manufacture by finding new ways of manipulating metals. Organic materials were incorporated into jewellery in the 1970s, pieces that featured wood, stone, shell and pearl emerged. The use of organic material is also evident in the work of Fred of Paris, who used wood and pearls integrated amongst other gemstones to create truly one-off pieces of jewellery.
Large and long earrings such as hoop designs were popular in this era to compliment and indeed be visible under the large array of afro and bee-hive hair styles. Large hoop design earrings may have been born in the 1970s but are still a popular choice today.
Fancy adding a statement piece of jewellery to your collection? At Berganza we have a large selection of unique pieces of vintage jewellery that will make heads turn, all are available to view in our shop or online.