Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > Design Periods > 1940's

Vintage earrings of the glamorous 1940’s and 1950’s

Article from Berganza

The 1940's signified a shift in jewellery design. Jewellery made in this period was predominantly yellow gold, which was quite a change from the whiter art deco pieces. In the first half of the decade, the use of platinum was prohibited and was used exclusively for the war effort. The scarcity of gold and precious metals meant jewellery making in general slowed. If required, older gold jewellery would be melted down to be remade into new, but even this process was taxed by some countries.

After the war, the population celebrated in style and required bold, striking jewellery to match. As this period was post art deco, right angles, strong lines and new cuts of stones were still prominent. These art deco features, combined with yellow gold and a love of big jewellery developed into what we refer to as ‘cocktail' jewellery. These strong lines were combined with opposing feminine curves, for example in the form of fans, shells and scrolls which were all popular, and also bow and ribbon motifs.

Earring styles tended to be big, sculptural and abstract, as studs, clusters and hoops.  Often set with big colourful gemstones such as citrine, aquamarine, topaz and amethyst; these weightier earrings were held in place with secure clip fittings. Small calibré cut rubies and sapphires were also used to create intricate rows of colour and interesting shapes.

Soon after, into the 1950's, we see the return of platinum designs. Resembling art deco, bursts of colour were again contrasted with diamonds in white metal. However, designs were generally more naturalistic and less geometric than previous times. Lines were freer flowing and softly curved. Yellow gold was still used for daytime jewellery, with platinum and diamonds preferred for evening wear. Earrings from the 1950's often mimicked the shape of the earlobe, and were more fluid and open than previous styles. Popular designs included shells, rosettes and curled leaves. These beautiful, big clusters with clip fittings and a mix of stone cuts have a bold elegance, which shout Hollywood glamour. Often the earring would be fitted with an articulated pendant motif or lavish cascade which would flow beautifully with movement.

In the 1940's and 1950's, clip earrings prevailed, showcasing art deco influence combined with softer naturalistic curves in big glamourous designs. At Berganza we have some striking examples of vintage earrings, with colourful gemstones and shimmering diamonds.

J. E. Caldwell sapphire clip on earrings berganza hatton garden
J. E. Caldwell sapphire cluster clip-on earrings, American, circa 1945.
Ref: 26181
Sapphire and diamond cluster earrings berganza hatton garden
Sapphire and diamond cluster earrings, circa 1950.
Ref: 26493
Drop emerald Cabochon and diamond earrings berganza hatton garden
Drop emerald Cabochon and diamond earrings, circa 1970.
Ref: 15854
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Updated 24/07/2024 at 5:00PM

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