Once Upon a Time, when I thought of antique jewelry, it meant Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau and maybe, just maybe, Art Deco. Not for me the flash of anything modern. Anything made after 1929 was definitely beyond the cut-off point. Head high, eyes averted, all of that post ’29 gleam was like the tree falling unheard in a forest — it might as well not exist as far as I was concerned.
How could you possibly compare the fine, classy act of 200 year-old handcarving, filigree, setting and workmanship of any kind with the brash flash of anything made within living memory? A foiled pink topaz or aqua with a great big glitzy blitzy bauble? No way! I was a purist and antique means antique. End of story.
Then slowly, the rot crept in. First I discovered the excitement of vintage retro design. Angles and arrows and starbursts that were joyful and boisterous. Designs that are pure fun and excitement. When I heard how difficult it is to find retro pieces my interest was even further piqued about that type of vintage jewelry. Should I admit to harboring an inner secret snob or is it the challenge of the hunt?
And then, horrors! I began looking at post modern items — sculptured and exciting, works of art to wear on your body.
I love parts that move and sculptural jewelry.
My old fine art training must have come through, as I (pant pant pant) fell in love with a newer (post post post) era, for the beauty of its invisible settings and its mysterious, novel and marvelous expression. Some jewelry today combines great technique, exciting visuals and innovative design. And it is getting even more exciting with every day of the 21st century.
And, just as I exude over my latest discovery of the 2nd decade, 21st century, my eye goes to a little box. Inside is a necklace, a pair of earrings and a pendant brooch — all in foiled pink topaz and gorgeous cannetille.
Maybe 1820 and 2013 have something in common: great beauty and great workmanship are ageless, whenever they were created.
First, I became enamored with Art Deco. The marvelous simplicity of geometric lines and primary colors are a primal attraction to the eye. It's not half a step from early Modernism and Deco to Retro, with it's continuation of the theme, but bigger and better, with flaring rays, fanning gemstones and various colored gold.
Finally, despite years of snobbish snide remarks about gauche glitz, I finally learned that there continue to be makers out there creating true items of art and beauty. Superb workmanship and imaginative design are not a thing of the past, but live on in exquisite jewels made to this very day.
So express your love of particular eras of antique jewelry making. Collect it, wear it, love it. But don’t be afraid to open your eyes even wider to the eras you may not be that familiar with or to the wonders still being created around you.