Jewelry in the Modern World
With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, new materials and methods of production created a vast world of opportunities for jewelry-making. Thanks to the invention of new machines, now jewelry could be mass-produced. Materials like steel were produced in large quantities, making them easy to use in jewelry. The new materials also spread to fashion with shoes and clothing all fashioned with paste, tin or steel jewelry components.
In early 19th century France, Napoleon’s emergence led to a revival of high fashion and opulent jewelry. Greek and Roman classical forms were in vogue again, and their popularity eventually spread to England and Northern Europe. The Emperor helped revive the cameo design, and he sought to have France be a center of luxury goods, including jewelry.
Queen Victoria had a major influence on jewelry during the Victorian Age. The jewelry took on nationalistic tones and picked upon themes from folk art. When the Queen lost her beloved husband in 1861, she fell into a deep mourning spell. Her mood was reflected with her jet black jewelry from Yorkshire. She even ordered that all attendees of her court could only wear mourning jewelry, and glass became a popular material in mourning jewelry.
During the Victorian Age jewelry standards gradually lowered after mass production became commonplace. In addition to European jewelry-producers, artisans in North America and Australia started to influence production and design.
By the 1870s there was a revolt against mass produced jewelry and other goods, leading to the Arts and Crafts movement. Simple, locally made goods that featured Celtic designs, primitive designs or naturalistic forms became popular. The “handmade” aesthetic gave the jewelry a medieval look.
Meanwhile in France, the Art Nouveau developed after the Arts and Crafts movement. It emphasized curves and dramatic and romantic forms. The Art Nouveau is still much admired throughout the world for its beautiful craftsmanship.
The Art Nouveau influenced Art Deco, which was a sensation during the early 20th century, particularly during the flapper era. Costume jewelry, which is also known as cocktail jewelry, became popular during the 1920s after Lalique mass produced and designed high quality glass jewelry.
For centuries, Europe was the primary influence on jewelry and style. But by the 1940s and 1950s, America, in particular Hollywood, influenced Europe and the rest of the world. The fashion statements of movie stars set the style for women all over the world.
The Second World War ended the demand for fine jewelry, as materials like metal were rationed. Costume jewelry became more sought-after, more beautiful and eventually won acceptance as an alternative to glamorous “real” jewelry.
The influence of film and television continued late in the 20th century. Nighttime soap operas like Dynasty, Dallas and Falcon Crest reinvigorated the bold costume jewelry market yet again.
By late century, in the 1990s, diamond, gold and other gemstones surged in popularity.
In the early 21st century, most women prefer a mix of fine jewelry and costume jewelry with high standards.
New gems have also revolutionized the faux jewelry market. Cubic Zirconium, which is imitation diamond, and Swarovski crystals, are accepted. This gives women an opulent look for a fraction of the cost of high-end jewelry.
Today’s women are sophisticated about mixing and matching styles and eras. The availability of both luxury jewelry and costume jewelry in Arizona make the modern era a phenomenal one for women.
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