Iconic Jewelry Trends Through the Decades

 Whether it tells a story of a lifelong romance,family history, or is simply a declaration of style, jewelry makes a statement about a person. You wear what you like, and what suits your personality and lifestyle. Just about everything is acceptable when it comes to combining styles and creating unique pieces. That being said, certain jewelry trends define particular time periods. Whether it was the glamorous and retro styles of the 1930s or the bold and beautiful designs that trended in the 1980s, each decade over the past 100 years has been marked by a specific style of jewelry; and those trends are all iconic in their own ways. Let’s take a look at the most iconic jewelry trends over the last 100 years and how they each play an important role in jewelry design today. 


The art nouveau style was brought on by the industrial boom. With the primary focus being a more natural look, jewelry designers garnered inspiration from music, movies, and other creative arts. Common themes in jewelry included leaves, insects, animals, and scalloped metals or lightly engraved pieces grew in popularity. Platinum became a popular metal during this time due to improvements in production capabilities, but because of its scarcity during the war, it became rare and highly sought after in the mid-1910s. The most popular stones of the time included diamonds, sapphires, aquamarines, and garnets, while peacock feathers and lotus blossoms were popular accents in all avenues of style and fashion.


The art deco style of this decade saw classic jewelry stapleslike stacked bracelets, pearl strands, and costume jewelry of various types. Intricately designed pieces and creative mounting styles were incredibly popular during this period. The boom in the economy after WWI brought about a great deal of lavish spending on jewelry and other fashions, leading to designers like Tiffany & Co. and Cartier beginning to make their mark on the jewelry industry. Pearls and diamonds were popular focal points, while colorful accent stone favorites included sapphires, rubies, emeralds, black onyx, and red coral. Geometric designs, linear styles, and asscher cut stones were seen everywhere, with 1920s engagement rings characterized by geometric and linear designs that perfectly exuded the art deco style.


This decade in jewelry trends was greatly inspired by the glamour of Hollywood. Plastic, moonstones, and other inexpensive gems were introduced to the jewelry industry, making the most iconic jewelry trends of the time widely accessible to all. This era in jewelry was characterized by bright and vibrant colors, filigree patterns, and bold three-dimensional designs. Emerald cut stones were a favorite, as were yellow, green, and rose gold metal options. The most popular gems of this decade include amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, rubies, sapphires, marcasite, and rhinestones.


Jewelry trends focused on glamour, but diamonds made an entrance in a big, bold way. Diamonds were worn in every piece of jewelry imaginable, from 1940s engagement rings to wide gold bracelets (the most popular metal) to stunning brooches and oversized dress clips.


The preference for glamour continued into the 1950s, but the focus of jewelry styles became ultra-feminine pieces that contrasted with the polished look of the previous decades. The emphasis on diamonds continued, but more gemstones were included and styles shifted to more dramatic and extravagant pieces. Gold jewelry remained preferable, but platinum and copper grew in popularity. Brooches and stylish pearls remained as classic jewelry staples, but full ensemble pieces were coming into style.


A stark contrast to the previous decade, the 1960s was characterized by practicality and functionality. Handcrafted pieces became more popular, as did milk glass, plastic jewelry, glass and crystal pieces, and non-precious metals. Important influences include Jackie Kennedy, as well as inspiration from East India, Asia, and Egypt. Bohemian styles gained traction, and layered necklaces, often made with bold-colored beads, were a favorite. The princess cut was introduced, floral motifs returned, and stacked bangles and cocktail rings were donned often.


Boldness and individuality led the jewelry trends in the 1970s, as women aimed to embrace international styles and make subdued yet bold statements. Colored quartz, turquoise, lapis lazuli, and coral were incredibly fashionable, as were beaded jewelry pieces and diamante (sequined/rhinestone embellished) jewelry. Large, gold earrings made their debut and the disco movement at the end of the decade brought about more exuberant statement pieces.


Everything in the ’80s was big, and the jewelry was not exempt from this. Mixing and matching styles, materials, and metals was popular during this time as the punk rock style took over a great deal of fashion arenas. The desire to make bold statements and show off one’s personality brought out the need for multi-purpose jewelry and versatility in designs. Gold remained the most popular metal, but other popular materials included faux pearls, gemstones, crystal, glass, and malleable plastic.


The ’90s is characterized by a fun and feisty attitude. Silver, viewed as tasteful and fun, became the most popular metal, and plastic was used regularly in many jewelry pieces as well. Chokers hit their peak, and body jewelry also made its debut. Floral motifs came back into play, and the majority of jewelry pieces were either inspired by the punk rock scene or more energetic and brighter pop music. The ’90s is also the decade where male jewelry first saw a significant rise in popularity.


The rise of hip-hop greatly influenced the jewelry trends of the 2000s, which have been called both flashy and bold. Gold and silver held equal stake in metal popularity, with large hoop earrings being a classic jewelry staple. This decade also saw a rise in plastic and wood making their way into several jewelry trends as the Boho-chic style grew quite quickly. Other iconic pieces included cuff bracelets, layered chain necklaces, cocktail rings, personalized jewelry, and chokers.


This decade, marked by the rise in social media platforms like Instagram, has made individuality and diversity the primary focus. Nearly anything has become acceptable in jewelry design, as consumers have desired jewelry that is innovative and experimental to really make them stand out. The contemporary styles of today include a lot of platinum, colored gemstones, bold embellishments, and bright colors. Multicultural influences have impacted everything from gem choice to production process to jewelry design, and men’s jewelry is constantly on the rise in popularity. Estate jewelry and vintage styles have also made resurgence, as people are more invested in looking at where history has led us, as well as desiring something unique and completely their own.

Whether you’re looking for classic jewelry staplesto pass down for generations or that custom piece to capture you or a loved one’s personality, Roman Malakov understands how jewelry impacts one’s story. Visit our stores or contact us regarding your jewelry needs—we’d love to be a part of your history-making moments.