1960s and 1970s

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After the relatively timid stylistic evolution of the 1950s, the jewellery of the 1960s echoed some of the revolutionary spirit of the decade. Alongside the steadier progress of the high-end market, there was the immergence of ‘Boutique’ ranges of jewellery from the large jewellery houses aimed at the nascent middle market. ‘Haute Joaillerie’ remained largely traditional in inspiration and concentrated on diamonds and precious stones, albeit becoming very angular and favouring marquise- and pear-shaped stones within beaded claw settings. The ‘Boutique’ collections were created for the new brand-conscious self-made client, often women buying for themselves, and mindful of the fear of displaying wealth during the social unrest. Van Cleef & Arpels’ ‘Twist’ parures in coral, turquoise, and lapis epitomise these collections as do the whimsical animal brooches produced on both sides of the Atlantic. As during the late 1950s, Nature was a dominant theme however, mirroring the rejection of conformism and tradition that was seen in the fashion trends of the period, the naturalist jewellery was largely abstract or highly stylised. This inspired the endless variations of textured gold synonymous with the period, often supporting large cabochons, un-cut stones, and later, nodules of chalcedony with crystalline growths. Another iconic manifestation of this inspiration are the large animal bangles by David Webb; the chimera bangles of the 1930s were updated and expanded as snakes, zebras, lions, and horses were added to the genre. The end of the 1960s saw the end of the abundance as economic pressures constricted the luxury markets. Aesthetically the 1970s was a very varied decade continuing much that was seen in the 1960s, but its identity can be defined by the increase of India-inspired jewels. Indian colour combinations and motifs were recreated in elaborate sautoirs accompanied by large ear pendants in a desire to appeal to the Middle Eastern market, even diamonds were set in yellow gold to embrace the trend, a practice which had not been widely used in Europe since the 18th Century.