Saturday, 20 April 2013

1960s jewellery

Inspired by ethnic African styles, this articulated and textured gilt metal pendant is suspended from a choker-like neck band.


It the 1940s and '50s belonged to the United States, and then the 1960s saw the balance shifting back to Europe. The emerging strong influence of European design was due to several stars of the costume jewelry world, including Coco Chanel. In the late 1950s Chanel commissioned Goossens and Maison Giroux to reproduce crosses and other Renaissance style jewelry to accessorize her clothing lines. Faux pearl bar pins and drop earrings were also especially popular. Along with the general rebirth of costume jewelry in Europe, a new and exciting trend was emerging of bijoux de couture. This form of costume jewelry was generally handmade in very small quantities and commonly designed either for a particular client or a particular clothing ensemble. Some of the early practitioners of bijoux de couture were Roger Jean-Pierre, producing under his own name and later designing for Hubert de Givenchy; and Roger Scemama, who designed jewelry for Yves Saint Laurent.

An interesting take on the hoop earring, the contrasting colours and geometric elements of these triangle earrings are typical of swinging-Sixties style. A veritable Who's Who of names litters the history of costume jewelry of the 1950s and '60s. For example, the Countess Zoltovska, founder of Maison Cis (known Mostly for their 1960s designs), created classic designs under her own brand and for others including Balenciaga. Robert Goossens, while creating jewels for Coco Chanel, also produced for Balenciaga. Maison Giroux, while famed for producing the signature "poured glass “jewels for Chanel, also made pieces for Jacques Fath, Worth, Christian Dior, and Poi ret, to name but a few. Yves Saint Laurent was an important driving force in French fashion in the late 1950s and '60s and costume jewelry was in turn an important part of his collections. His first jewelry collection debuted in 1962 and comprised jet and baroque pearl earrings with jet necklaces. As mentioned above, Roger Scemama had an important role in the design of the fashion house's jewels.

This unsigned psychedelic lime green brooch demonstrates the interesting use of unusual materials, in this case nylon strands making up the frills of the flower, and striking colours in contrasting combinations. That is not to say that no new talent was entering the business; new and innovative jewelry was being created. The old guard of costume jewelry was to be joined by a new breed, ready to break the mould: designers such as Andre Courreges, Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, and Emanuel Ungaro, while commonly learning their trade under masters of the business such as Balenciaga, were quick to set out on their own and reshape the business.

Jewelry designed and produced by Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin in the 1960s was out to shock the traditionalists, but went down a storm with younger clients. The anti-establishment/flower/power/futuristic designs in futuristic materials are classics in their own right, and it did not take long before copyists reproduced them in their thousands. There were cross Atlantic collaborations also. For example William de Lillo and Robert Clark, both famous for their work for Haskell, designed and produced costume jewelry for the fashion house Nina Ricci in the 1960s. They also entered into their own collaboration and produced fabulous jewels under the name"Wm de Lillo", which are rarely signed and very collectable.

This bulbous ring is very space age: made from modern materials and in a futuristic shape, it looks almost alien. A famous costume jewelry house that had grown from humble origins, beginning production in the outskirts of Paris in the mid to late 1950s, started to have an important impact in the 1960s. The name of Lea Stein will be familiar to many collectors around the world - it was thanks to the self-discovered technique of compressing layers of cellulose acetate that some of the most colorful jewels to be found were created. Used for every type of jewelry from rings, bangles, and pins to earrings, necklaces, and even jewelry boxes, the bright colours caught the public's imagination, and indeed Lea Stein jewelry is very collectable today.

For England this decade is a legend in itself. Between Carnaby Street and the King's Road, the younger generation went crazy. Bangles and pendants, slave bracelets and hippy earrings were the must-wear items with tie-dyed clothing and thong sandals. Anti-war movements were symbolized by "flower power and the daisy was a favourite motif, occurring everywhere on clothing prints and in costume jewelry. This decade in England brought vast amounts of cheap mass-produced costume jewelry into the market, such as that made by the Birmingham firm Miracle.

Again in modern materials, in this case a chrome-plated snake chain with an aluminum pendant, this pendant displays aspects of free-form organic art.
In Italy Coppola eToppo still produced magnificent jewels, but instead of glass beads encrusting metal backs, their output included plastic beads woven into necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The firm was also known for using unusually shaped beads, in the form of flowers, bugle beads, carved squares, and rosettes.

Toward the late '60s, the mood for futuristic designs and materials was waning and looks became retrospective. Antique jewelry and second-hand clothes were in. The Beatles went to India seeking their own form of enlightenment and the fashion world followed. Indian jewelry and its style were very much in vogue. Trifari reissued its "Jewels of India “line (dating from the 1930s) and Kenneth J. Lane produced his own Indian-inspired jewels. While Lane was using chunky, bold Fulcodi Verdura forms (see firms such as Trifari were producing contrasting gold-tone pieces in either popular free-form abstract styles or stylized flowers and leaves.


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