Jewellery is one of the oldest forms of decorative arts and has been made and worn from the earliest civilizations. Even from prehistoric times, necklaces and bracelets made from ropes with carved stones, bones and shells have been found. These were probably a primitive way to mark a person’s status or rank, or perhaps worn as a good luck charm to ward off evil spirits.
Much influenced by social and economic trends, medieval, 17th and 18th century precious jewellery was worn by the privileged and wealthy. By the mid Victorian era the incomes of the middle and working classes began to rise, which allowed them to buy mass produced, machine-made, inexpensive jewellery.
Trifari, the American costume jewellery company which was set up in early 1920 is a good example. They created and designed high quality pieces that were mass produced. The founders Gustavo Trifari, Leo Kurssman and Carl Fischel were known as the ‘Rhinestone kings’ for their use of imitation jewels. Although their pieces were aimed at the mass market, Trifari are still very collectable.
But then with the birth of the Art and Crafts movement in the second half of the 19th century, jewellery designers began to fight back against mass production, and instead they created unique handmade pieces that were rare and sought after.
Over the years, jewels and ornaments have continued to captivate us with their mystery and elegance. This has been much influenced by royalty and Hollywood stars such as the glamorous Elizabeth Taylor, whose third husband Mike Todd once said to her, "You’re my queen, and I think you should have a tiara". She wore her diamond tiara to many events.
So how can you introduce vintage jewellery into your wardrobe without looking like you’ve stepped off a period drama set? Well, here are my tips on how to incorporate these jewels into everyday dressing. For sparkle and opulence, look no further than vintage costume and designer jewellery.You’ll find everything from branded logo Chanel stud earrings, to stunning statement enamel treasures.
To uplift a smart coat or favourite cashmere jumper, why not add a brooch? Brooches are a much overlooked accessory which is a shame as they are so versatile and suit everybody. They’re also less fussy than wearing long drop earrings or a bold necklace.
But if you’re looking for something with that extra special sparkle as a gift, or even as an engagement or wedding ring then, Mitch Preston’s fine vintage jewellery is perfect. The collection features beautiful diamonds and precious sapphire stones set in white or yellow gold settings. As Mae West once said: "I have always felt a gift diamond shines so much better that one you buy for yourself".
But one of the main reasons for wearing and appreciating vintage jewellery is that these are unique one-off items, so once they are bought, we won’t be restocking them. And wearing a piece of history, with a story adds a certain eminence. For sophisticated jewels like square cut topaz stones, to cushion cut amethysts or marquise cut emeralds studs, the Sharon Mills range is ideal. From her regal tear drop earrings to art deco styled pearl set ring, you’ll know this jewellery is made to last and will be treasured for generations to come.