The wearing of an elegant piece of jewelry around one's neck often symbolizes social status, beauty, and desire. A necklace is worn for many reasons: from transporting savings of precious metals, jewels, and coins; to amulets and totems that bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. In western cultures today, most antique necklace wearing is primarily fashion-oriented. However, many have sentimental value, especially if they are passed down or gifted.
What is the difference between an antique and vintage necklace?
The difference between an antique and vintage necklace can often be confused even though the distinction between the two is clear. A vintage necklace is a piece that is 50-100 years old. An antique necklace or antique pendant is over 100 years old. Some antique necklaces can date back many centuries and can be from one of the major eras of jewelry, but what are the different eras of antique jewelry?
There are six main eras of antique jewelry; Georgian, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian, Art Deco, and Retro. However, Art Deco and Retro would be considered vintage.
Georgian era necklaces are often ornate, composed of large jewels that signified regality. The pieces are all made by hand in what was a slow and highly skilled process. These pieces are all unmarked and are a treat to find today especially when in pristine condition.
Named after Queen Victoria, Victorian Era necklaces hold sentimental and superstitious value with pendants and lockets of good luck charms or remembrance pieces containing hair or images of loved ones. Revival styles emerged in this era with designs from Egyptian and Greek antiquity, Renaissance, and the Gothic Epoch, all made from onyx, yellow gold, bright stones, silver, pearl, and diamonds.
Art Nouveau brought in a new style of jewelry with the use of natural and fantastical style motifs. Antique necklaces of this time have designs from nature such as flowers, dragonflies, butterflies, and even fantastical designs of dragons. Rich with pastel colors and enamels, pendants had painted scenery or pictures on them. Elegant scrollwork on yellow or white gold was used in many designs of this era.
The Edwardian Era ushered in platinum metal for the first time and was paired with pearls and diamonds to create exquisite pendants and necklaces. Festoon necklaces rose to popularity and were most often worn with a gorgeous dinner dress.
Vintage necklaces from the Art Deco Era signaled a life of excess. Colored gemstones such as emerald and sapphire, paired with diamond accents and platinum settings made popular in the Edwardian Era. Large gems were often rigid shapes like squares, triangles, octagons, and rectangles and placed onto new, popular flapper necklaces that were absent of the temporarily outdated yellow gold.
The Retro Era brought a market dominance of rose and yellow gold necklaces and pendants set with bright stones such as citrines, topaz, and tourmalines with diamonds used as accents.
Today antique necklaces from every era can be found in both private and public collections. Prather Beeland sources antique and vintage necklaces from each elegant era. Whether bridal or traditional, simple or unique, antique or vintage, we have or can find what you are looking for.