During the first part of the 1940's the outbreak of war slowed down the production of the vintage jewelry industry in Europe. Precious metals became very rare, platinum was almost unobtainable, and gold was very scarce. The French 'Banque de France' forbade the sale of all precious metals, and those who wished to commission a piece of jewelry in gold had to supply the entire quantity of metal required, and when melted 20% of the fine content had to go to the State. Also the precious gemstone trade routes from South Africa, Burma etc. had been severely disrupted. However the austerity of the war years only marginally affected the fashion for wearing vintage jewelry. In times of economic instability estate jewelry represents a valuable source of portable capitol; and the lack of confidence in paper money merely served to encourage people to search for alternatives, and precious metal and gemstones were purchased whenever available, thus the market for antique and vintage jewelry flourished.
1/ Platinum & Diamond ring with calibre rubies Circa 1940
Although the vintage jewelry business did not cease completely during the war, the production of those years is characterized by a lack of new ideas and designs. Famous antique jewelry houses continued to produce jewels based on pre-war models of straps, scrolls and buckles etc. mainly made of gold and set with diamonds and other gemstones, which were often synthetic (man made) to overcome the scarcity of natural stones. Also the scarcity of precious stones turned attention to semi precious stones. Citrine, Tourmaline, Aquamarines, Amethysts, Garnets and Topazes all became very popular. The scarcity of gold did not influence the shape of vintage jewelry, which remained massive looking and voluminous, but they became lighter, made with thinner gold.
2/ Gold & Carved Coral ring set with Diamonds. Circa 1945
At the end of the war, fashion reacted to austerity of the previous six years. In 1945 French fashion houses presented feminine dresses, characterized by short skirts, generously decollete tops covered up by short bolero-style jackets. Vintage jewelry also changed accordingly; the huge geometric jewels of the early 1940's was replaced by large gold vintage jewelry of a more naturalistic inspiration. Precious stones came back on a large scale, freely set in scrolled and curved gold mounts,pleated, knotted or fretted en tulle. The flat geometric forms of Art Deco jewelry were substituted for voluminous three dimensional pieces.
3/ 18 karat Gold Demantoid Garnet & Diamond Dress Clips. Circa 1945
Gold continued to be the preferred metal of this Vintage Jewelry period, but they started adding other minerals to the gold to give it different tints, and you had white, green, rose, and yellow gold. Platinum was still used in vintage jewelry, but it was no longer the first choice.
4/ Platinum Diamond & Calibre Amethyst ring. Circa 1940
Again Diamond became the favorite choice of gemstones in this vintage jewelry period, but they were very often combined with calibre cut colored gemstones, or semi precious gemstones. The jewels of the late 1940's, shared with the early production of vintage jewelry the tendency towards massive looking ornaments, and foreshadowed the vintage jewelry of the 1950's with its interest in naturalism, and its return to opulence, that was previously seen in Art Deco jewelry from the 1920's and 1930's.
5/ 18 karat Gold, Moonstone, Sapphire & Ruby Ear clips. Circa 1940
At Beverley R Jewelry in downtown Chicago, we have a large selection of Antique and Vintage jewelry from all periods between the 1830's to the 1950's. We have pieces for both the collector of specific antique styles, and also for the person who is looking for a unique but wearable piece of fine jewelry that none of their friends will have. We have very fine antique gold engagement rings, that are handmade from the mid to later part of the 1800's, and we also have original platinum and diamond engagement rings from the Art Deco period. Whatever category you fit into we have something for your taste, which you will find to be not only of the highest quality, but very unique, and one of a kind.
6/ 18 karat x2 color Gold & Citrine Bangle Bracelet. Circa 1945
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