The history of jewelry is but a narration of man’s evolving dreams and passions. Ancient societies treated them as charms. Monarchs projected them as symbols of divinity. The modern world uses them as signs of fashion and luxury. All in all, these records just show how jewelry items are in constant change and evolution.
If you’re fond of these decorative items, you might want to take a look at how these fashionable pieces have changed through the decades. Below, we have rounded up the top jewelry trends that defined the 1950s to the present. Check out which decade defined your taste and style.
The 1950s marked the era of idealized femininity, as demonstrated by fashion icons Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. It is the fashion period for pencil skirts and neck scarves, a time for hourglass silhouettes and bouffant hairstyles. As the world recovered from the mess and violence of war, everyone started to crave a touch of class and womanliness.
Consequently, along with the popularity of dainty, sophisticated looks came the boom of pearl jewelry. These white beads were often paired with black dresses and ballet flats to create the picture of an ideal, delicate woman. The pearl trend expanded to cover all accessories, from necklaces, bracelets, to earrings.
Since women were pictured as neat and refined, the period also saw the dramatic rise of the parure. This refers to a set of jewelry that is meant to be worn together. As a result, people are often seen with matching pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.
While the previous decade was all about grace and elegance, the next decade shifted towards freedom and boldness. The modest woman found her way into the liberating scenes of rock ‘n roll and pop. Consequently, the fashion spotlight abandoned the lady-like elegance to focus on tie-dye shirts and shift dresses.
Unsurprisingly, the accessory trend switched from refined pearls to plastic pop-art jewelry. Bangles were treated as fashion essentials. The once perfectly round earrings have taken on funky, geometric shapes. Even necklaces embraced layered, psychedelic designs.
Since the decade also witnessed the rise of the hippie trend, the fashion world found its way back into the natural elements. Jewelry items became mostly handmade. Peace symbols also gained traction as people became increasingly radical and demonstrated anti-war sentiments, even in their fashion choices.
While the 1960s is bold and radical, the 1970s is fearless and revolutionary. It was a cultural moment. The era breathed out a lengthy list of styles, ranging from casual, punk, bohemian to disco looks. Gender norms were abandoned, and androgynous styles became the thing. One can walk down the street and encounter women in jumpsuits, teens in overly tight t-shirts, and men in bell-bottom jeans.
As if to reflect the courageousness of the era, jewelry items were large and dramatic. Large bangles and sparkly dangling earrings were considered staples back then. Mood rings, friendship bracelets, and layered necklaces are also popular.
The 1980s is the decade for everything big. From hair, shoulder paddings, to shirts, everything appeared superimposing. Clothes turned baggier, and blazers embraced larger shoulder paddings. These large blazers and coats were then paired with belts to highlight the wearers’ slender waists. Such fashion elements were especially apparent in fashion icons, such as Madonna and Whitney Houston.
Likewise, accessories were also big and dramatic. The imposing appeal of gold made it a public favorite in the fashion scene. Oversize gold necklaces became the trend. Arms were also filled with layers of sleek bracelets. Earrings were often designed in a pair of gold and platinum to provide a high-contrast effect.
The 1990s is an explosion of styles. It was the era of grunge style, hip-hop, and preppy fashion sets. During the early part of the decade, bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden spawned the rise of grunge style. This is mostly characterized by leather jackets, ripped jeans, and flannel shirts. Naturally, this led to the popularity of chokers, cross-shaped earrings, and silver rings.
The decade also witnessed the rise of hip-hop culture. In contrast to grunge, this style trend is brimming with colors. The typical hip-hop fashion icons, mostly rappers, are often seen with baggy clothes, glossy jackets, and snapback caps. Extra-large gold necklaces that spell out expressions and statements especially enjoyed popularity. Silver hoop earrings were also preferred to project a cool, hip-hop look among women.
Movies such as Clueless also signaled the comeback of preppy fashion styles. This led to high demand for Oxford shirts, Khaki slacks, and blazers. At the same time, beaded bracelets, pearl stud earrings, and shell necklaces became popular jewelry essentials.
2000s – Present
The 2000s to the present are all about teen power and choices. The traditional ‘American Dream’ was abandoned for arts and happiness. The beginning of the millennium saw the rise of teen pop stars, such as Britney Spears and Hilary Duff. As a result, fashion became mostly fun and fresh. Popcorn shirts gained popularity, along with low-waist jeans. Likewise, jewelry items were young and genuine. Bracelets with colorful beads and candy necklaces with smiley pendants became popular. Chunky, rainbow rings were also preferred. Resin bangles and waist chains are especially on demand.
Come the mid-2000s, handmade and colorful accessories became overshadowed by designer items. Prada, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and other luxury brands dominated the fashion scene. Series, such as Sex and the City, affected consumer behavior and triggered demands for high-end bags and jewelry items.
At present, fashion is all about activity and comfort. Sportswear found its way into everyday fashion. Bike shorts and sweatsuits became the staple wear for everyone. At the same time, these comfy clothes were paired up with luxurious jewelry items. Gold became the metal of choice. Gold chains were paired with almost everything, from off-shoulder tops to hoodies. Gold bangles were also often worn in bundles.
Which Decade Are You?
Impressed with how jewelry pieces evolved through the last decades? Which era do you think matches your taste and style? Revive these jewelry trends and make a statement for yourself.