A Brief History of Jewellery Design

September 5, 2017 12:35 pm

Warning…sweeping statement to follow.

Like most women, I love my jewellery.

End of sweeping statement.

Like many women, I received an engagement ring (princess cut diamond) a wedding band (traditional band). On the birth of my first child I was fortunate enough to welcome more jewellery into the family and over the years I have invested in ‘real’ as well as ‘costume’ jewellery. Although I may have purchased some (the costume stuff), most have been gifts from loved ones. Items that I treasure as they were given with such affection.

This notion of giving jewellery as a gift of love is what the jewellery industry is built on. Whether it be a new charm for your best friend, a special birthday gift or a momento to remember a loved one (I myself wear a ring given to me by my grandma).

Yet recently I have been interested in the history of jewellery. Where did this concept of giving metal, which is all gold/platinum is, originate?

My research took me straight to the Victorians as giving jewellery as a gift or love or friendship became very popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. The history of wearing jewellery as a status symbol can be traced back even further. The Egyptians wore ornate personalised jewellery as a sign of their status. Symbolism was used to design jewellery, such as belief in gods and good fortune.

Symbolism in jewellery remained important throughout the ages. Jewellery was not just worn to look pretty, there was often special meanings behind the designs, as well as being used as a symbol of status. In medieval jewellery 5th-15th Century, royals and the noble class wore jewellery made of precious metals such as gold and silver, decorated with precious gems. The lower classes wore jewellery made of base metals such as copper and pewter. Pearls were popular and are said to symbolise purity.

An example of a Renaissance ring


During the Renaissance, 14th-17th Century jewellery became more elaborate and yet symbols remained important. Certain stones were believed to protect against threats or to aid an ailment. Religious symbols were very popular.


17th Century

In the 17th Century there was a move towards depicting nature in jewellery and botanical designs became very fashionable. New cutting techniques allowed jewellers to show off the sparkle in stones which had previously been cabochons.


18th Century

It was in the 18th Century that we see the growth of the popularity of the brilliant cut diamond, still the most popular cut of diamond.


19th Century

The 19th Century saw the continuation of nature being used as inspiration for designs. Flowers were especially popular as they symbolised friendship.

20th Century


Arts and Craft Movement

During the Arts and Craft Movement, 1880-1910 small detailed pieces of jewellery were being produced to emphasize the difference between industrialisation and craftsmanship.


Art Nouveau

At a similar time, the Art Nouveau Movement, 1890-1914 made a conscious move away from precious stones in favour of enamel and glass which could be brightly coloured. Names linked to this period are Charles Rene Mackintosh, Aubrey Beardsley and René Lalique.

Art Deco

In contrast to the realistic botanical designs seem in previous jewellery design, The Art Deco period, 1920-1930s was all about geometric shapes and symmetry.


Meaning of symbols

coiled snake- eternity

crescent moon- new relationship

figure of 8- infinity

horseshoe- luck

oak tree- strength

evergreen/ivy- wedded love


Regardless of what the meaning behind your jewellery is, if at all there is a meaning. Jewellery is to be worn and enjoyed. Look after it and it can even become and heirloom.

RepairsByPost.com can repair vintage and modern jewellery, re-design jewellery or create a bespoke design from new.





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This post was written by The Repairs By Post Team