Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 1987, Vol. 23, No. 1

"Modern" Jewelry: Retro to Abstract

The period between the onset of World War II and the mid-1960s saw the development of several styles in fine jewelry. During the 1940s, Retro jewelry retained Art Deco's bold lines but gradually softened its colors and curved its sharp geometric shapes. These heavy settings were eventually replaced by fine, hand-made wire settings which produced flexible, three-dimensional jewelry shaped by the gemstones themselves. The designers and neo-Renaissance artists of the 1950s created colorful jewels overflowing with faceted gems as well as beads, cabochons, or rough-tumbled stones. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, gemstones became subordinate to the flow and shape of the overall design during a revival in individual craftsmanship that is still evident in contemporary jewelry.