HISTORY OF FASHION JEWELRY
Probably the first time fashion jewelry appeared was in the early 1700s. That was the era of glass blowing. Once the method of making different shapes from glass was perfected, it was just a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of using the technique to make jewelry. Starting with earrings (which only real skilled artisans could blow – and they were pretty costly owing to that) and moving on to pendants, glass became the material of choice in the manufacture of fashion jewelry.
Let’s pause here and go further back in time, we all know that the concept of jewelry itself is almost as old as the history of man. All through the early man phase, people have been using items as unique as bones and teeth to decorate their bodies; but we will not consider them as fashion jewelry as it was not intended that way! After gold and diamonds started ruling the roost, jewelers have always been on the lookout for something more economical so that everyone could afford studded jewelry. Thus came the concept of semi precious metals and stones.
Diamond prospectors from across the world were finding uniquely colored stones in the rivers and river beds that were being turned upside down. Since they were not really so rare or anything, they were given the term semi-precious stones – as polishing them and cutting them to shape required a lot of skill. For those who could not afford real diamonds, these semi precious stones became the next best alternative. In fact, these became so popular that jewelers included gemstone jewelry as part of their mainstream selling items and they were studded in precious metals like Gold and Silver. This became real popular in the 1800s and that holds true even today.
In the 1930s, a whole new concept of fashion jewelry came into existence with the usage of Rhinestone in its making. Named thus as they were originally gathered from the Rhine river, Rhinestones became the natural substitute for diamonds and people from all over the world immediately fell in love with these stones. They became so popular that they found their ways into the tiaras of crowns on the heads of queens all over, and even into engagement rings of the time! The prime reason was that you could afford a much bigger rhinestone at the price of a tiny little diamond. You can read more about Rhinestones here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhinestone
If there is one person who should have a place of pride in the history of fashion jewelry, it has to be Coco Chanel. This designer-par-excellence made the use of this style of jewelry very famous, and she could be seen more often in fashion jewelry than real diamond stuff. Coco is specially remembered for making pearls fashionable. She has been listed on the Time 100, and you can read that article here – https://www.time.com/time/time100/artists/profile/chanel.html.
Coming to the modern times in the history of fashion jewelry, we come into the machine made era. Though the romantics feel that the machine has spoilt the beauty of the hand-made costume jewelry, the truth is that the machine has made fashion jewelry more affordable and has enabled people to produce enough to fuel the interest of millions of ladies from all around the world. Probably the most influential and popular fashion jewelry designer in the modern times would be Kenneth Jay Lane.
Finally, there is one thing that is very interesting and we should mention it here. Fashion jewelry is an extremely collectible item, and also acquires vintage status with time. There are several cases of vintage fashion jewelry auctions going into hundreds of thousands of dollars!
So the next time you are out buying fashion jewelry, feel happy and in fact, proud that you are out to get a product with a colorful history!