Jeweller to the stars Vashi Dominguez (of luxury online brand Vashi.com) has a penchant for vintage gems. Find out what styles rocked in times gone by and learn why making the old new again is fabulously easy with Vashi.com vintage style diamond jewellery.
Vintage is a word thrown about very easily these days and ‘vintage style’ brings up a sea of options. Browsing the dictionary you’ll find definitions of vintage such as ‘the year or place in which wine, especially wine of high quality, was produced’ (noun) or even ‘relating to or denoting wine of high quality’ (adjective).
Wine aside, what do we mean when we talk about vintage cars, clothes, films and, of course, vintage jewellery?
Vintage jewellery refers to second hand (or potentially new) pieces originating from a previous era. When created before the 1920s, jewellery is known as antique whilst jewellery from the 20s to 20 years before the present day is considered vintage. Retro, short for retrospective, or ‘vintage style’/’vintage inspired’ refers to a piece imitating the style of these previous eras. Therefore, you can get a brand new piece in perfect condition, yet with the style panache of a time gone by.
Jewellery lovers often admire an old style but prefer a modern interpretation, which also means a range of sizes can be produced. For example, buyers don’t have to rely on luck if they spot their dream ring as the size and details such as the specific diamond cut or carat can be reproduced in the desired style. Spot on!
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see what antique and vintage jewellery has been discovered:
The oldest known jewellery is thought to be beads made from Nassarius shells, hailing from 100 000 years ago! Sea snail shell jewellery from Africa has been found dating from 75 000 years ago followed by perforated ostrich egg shell beads from 40 000 years ago. Next up was copper jewellery from around 7000 years ago. More established jewellery making began in Ancient Egypt (around 3000-5000 years ago), where craftsmen used luxury gold over other metals alongside coloured glass and precious gems.
As both a religious and status symbol, the jewellery was even worn in death, commonly placed among grave goods. In 1600 BC, the Greeks used gold, gems and shells amongst other decorative items, creating simple designs, which grew in complexity as workman’s skills developed. Pieces were saved for special events and public appearances and also had superstitious value; for instance, precious pieces were dedicated to the Gods or endowed the owner with supernatural powers.
In Roman times, bronze jewellery prevailed and (like today) could be worn as a status symbol. Romans most commonly wore brooches and introduced glass beads and pearl adornments. The Celts are particularly noted for their jewellery, again creating the brooch or amulets and rings using gemstones. Diamond jewellery also leads us to some exciting antique examples. Way back in 1477, the first diamond engagement ring was introduced worn by Mary of Burgundy, who married Maximilian I.
By the Renaissance period, larger stones such as ruby, Red Sea peridot, opal and amethyst were more common. Romanticism followed in the late 18th Century, with the public fascinated by treasures and medieval Renaissance art. Then, the Industrial Revolution led to the growth of the middle class meaning more could afford jewellery (cue the development of costume jewellery).
Next up was Art Nouveau then Art Deco jewellery pieces, both stunningly pretty in design. Art Deco jewels were seen from the 20s to 40s, with the famous gleaming pearl favoured by women in this period.
Post-war by the 50s, more colourful statement designs were regularly seen and in the 60s, fashionable women sported humongous chandelier earrings plus costume jewellery that experimented with fun new materials such as coloured plastic. Larger pieces were also preferred in both the 70s and 80s, from tasselled and beaded hippie jewellery to neon coloured and punk designs.
Of course, it’s not just about how beautiful vintage jewels can be. There’s certainly more to the pieces than aesthetic value. Vintage jewellery is considered a hard asset – in other words, an investment asset with physical form that has quantifiable value. Collectors of vintage jewellery should note that an important contributing factor in the value can also be its provenance.
Vintage jewellery collectors value and record the background of an item. In fact, who wore it and to what occasion can truly increase the interest surrounding the piece… and its monetary worth!
Do you own any precious vintage gems we’d be jealous of? And do you love the antique style? Or are you a modern woman through and through? Join in the jewellery chat and stay sparkly!
For more information on vintage jewels, see Vashi’s feature on ‘‘ on our sister site of