Retro Era Jewelry
The Retro Era came right after the Art Deco era and all the glamor that was seen in the 20′s and 30′s. However, this was also the time of World War II; women had to go back into the work force to compensate for absent men off at war. Many were taking on what was considered at the time men’s work. Women were seen in factories and wearing trousers instead of dresses. Women on the film screen gave other women dreams of a time where they could wear all the fancy clothing and jewelry they were seeing in the movies. The Duchess of Windsor also had an impact with her bold and unique jewelry.
The Retro Era did combine some of the jewelry found in the Art Deco art. There were some characteristic that were similar only that instead of the angular sleek design of the Art Deco era this era showed more flowing designs and bolder sizes. The war effort took much of the platinum, gold, and silver. Shortages were also seen in pearls and gems due to embargoes, thus more semi precious and synthetic gems were used to create new jewelry styles.
Travel was restricted to European countries, but access to Mexico was easy. Many of the Mexican jewelry makers began to see a huge need in their styles. Mexican jewelry makers such as Taxco, Spratling, Aguilar, and Los Castillos were all the rave.
Elements that were used most often during the Retro Era include multi-colored gold, sculptural designs, 3-D designs, curving, flowing designs such as bows, ribbons, and scrolls, large cut semi precious stones, synthetic stones, pieces of gold, oversized scale, charms, charm bracelets, illusions settings, and patriotic motifs.
The fine jewelry makers of the Retro Era included Carier, Harry Winston, and Van Cleef and Arpels. Major costume jewelers were Coro Dior, Haskell Napier, and Trifari Boucher.
In most cases, jewelry of the Retro era was oversized bold pieces to draw attention. Charm bracelets became very popular with the event of the Duchess of Windsor wearing one on her wedding day. Her charm bracelet dangled with gem set crosses.
Brooches were created in patriotic styles using such forms as military insignia, eagles, and the US flag.
Instead of the long dangling earrings of the Art Deco era, the Retro Era saw earring close and clinging to the earlobe using with screw backs or clips.
Since the majority of European designers were out of reach to the US the popularity of costume jewelry was on rise. Plastic suitable for jewelry was used during the 1920′s and was still popular during the Retro Era mainly Bakelite and Lucite. This plastic would be molded or cast, and then top carved, under carved, painted, or then set with rhinestones. With mass production the use of paste was often used in the past, however, it was more expensive that using plastic which did replace paste during this time.
This was the beginning of costume jewelry, which is still very popular today. Even during times of war, women could wear beautiful jewelry without the cost of the expensive metals and precious stones, which were unavailable.