The history of jewellery is a long and fascinating one, with bead artefacts as old as 100,000 years being found. Jewellery is a form of personal adornment and has also traditionally been considered a type of status symbol with some cultures restricting the wearing of some items to those of certain status.
These days, whilst some forms of jewellery do depict a certain financial status, you’ll also find that traditional ‘costume’ jewellery is being worn alongside it’s real counterpart as wearers choose an eclectic mix of designer and low-value pieces that suit their outfit, personality, and event.
The contemporary jewellery movement, also known as modern jewellery really started at the end of the second world war, in a similar vein to the architecture of the time, it used clean lines, geometric and symmetrical patterns and styles to display a distinct move away from previously more detailed pieces.
The pieces of this genre moved from personal adornment to wearable art due in part to the advent of new materials that were created and manufactured around the same time including plastics and artificial gemstones. Additionally other metals were used instead of the traditional gold and silver, such as stainless steel and copper, to make pieces more affordable as well as interesting.
Creators of these pieces have become artisans, sculptors, and designers making jewellery using traditional methods as well as modern techniques. Music has also played a part in the evolution of contemporary pieces, in particular hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and popular music, particularly in the popularity of ‘bling’ which is the term for rather flashy diamante encrusted pieces, a far cry from the pared down style from the 40’s, however popular culture sets the tone for many trends including what we wear.
More recently trends have seen contemporary jewellery incorporate a wide range of styles, materials, genres, and cultures, blending old with new, modern with traditional, and reworking of original pieces into a brand new object. One thing still stands true, and that is the quality and workmanship of these pieces. traditional techniques are still used to ensure high quality, timeless pieces that not only look good now, but will also look good in years to come.
Contemporary jewellery has gone from the traditional rings, necklace, earrings, bracelets, and brooch, through to the incredibly imaginative pieces that adorn all parts of our bodies, including wrist cuff, toe ring, nose stud, belly rings, ‘teeth’ grill, and waist chains. Of course, those worn on our hands still remain a staple favourite.