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Jewelry Time Periods: Retro Era


Bold gold, Hollywood starlets, huge gemstones and cocktail rings, all characterize the Retro time period of jewelry. Spanning from 1940-1945, this coincides almost exactly with World War II. With that said, platinum use in jewelry was no longer available. Gold made a comeback, this time in rose and even green gold. Everything in regards to retro jewelry was oversized. Rubies were the most prominent gemstone, followed by large, rectangular cut citrines, aquamarines and amethysts.

Hollywood glamour, as depicted in movies, was popular and let Americans escape from their thoughts about the war. As a result, people tried to mimic the bold jewelry seen in Hollywood spotlights. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were looked upon for their large collection of bold retro jewels, often decked out in Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier.

After this period ended, jewelry during this time period was often used as scrap gold, being melted down, while destroying its rich history. As a result, Retro jewelry is highly collectible and will continue to be sought.

Some motifs and distinctive elements of this time period:

  • bows, florals, scrolls, fans, ribbons, ruffles
  • Hollywood glamour; oversized jewels, cocktail rings
  • huge, rectangular cuts of aquamarines, citrines, amethysts, with ruby or sapphire or diamond accents
  • Patriotic themes; flags, eagles, military
  • post earrings, no dangle; flower earrings
  • birds, baskets, sprays of diamonds, shells, hearts
  • Retro mesh buckle bracelets
  • Cartier’s animal jewelry
  • Yellow, rose and green gold

Important People of the Time: