Estate jewellery collectors have branched out from Victorian and Art Deco pieces to items from more recent decades. 1950s jewellery is getting some serious attention from auction houses and discerning buyers. While the 50s saw a rise in costume jewellery thanks to brands like Coro and Trifari, fine jewellery also took off in popularity. How do you know the estate jewellery you find is the real deal from the 1950s? These features can point you in the right direction for classic examples and help you decide if your discovery would make an excellent addition to your collection.
The Fashion Influence
When you think of 50s fashion, a traditional hourglass silhouette may come to mind. A fitted bodice and full skirt were all the rage thanks to Dior, and jewellery reflected that timeless elegance. Ladies liked to match their purses and shoes and wear sweater sets that coordinated in colour or pattern. Jewellery sets known as parures reflected that synchronicity, with rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets in the same shape and style.
The 1950s saw an increase in movies filmed in Technicolour, and audiences loved the vibrant styles and jewel tones. Jewellery took on a more colourful role, both with semi-precious stones and gems as well as bright chunky plastics. Costume and fine jewellery replicated some of the pieces worn by popular actresses on and off the screen. A new technique that brought even more sparkle to costume jewellery was Aurora Borealis. This style involved a special coating on rhinestones for a sophisticated, shimmery look that mimicked the real thing.
Diamonds and Pearls
Piggybacking on Hollywood glitz went beyond bright colours. With choker necklaces, brooches, and cocktail rings, opulent diamond jewelry reflected the designer pieces seen on the red carpet. At the same time, pearls were everywhere as women wanted to emulate the fashion sense of Audrey Hepburn and other stars. Ladies wore strands of pearls and other beads with everything from little black dresses at parties to housecoats at home.
Gold on Gold
White, rose, and yellow gold all existed in the 50s, but yellow gold was the winner. It’s not unusual to find yellow gold estate jewellery with motifs that include leaves, flowers, tassels, or abstract shapes. Textures and finishes added a bit more pizzazz as well. Anytime you see bangles or rings from this era, you may notice a brushed texture or delicate hatching almost etched into the gold that tells you this is a 50s piece.
Here is a fun fact not everyone knows about 50s jewellery: most women did not have their ears pierced then. That decade followed a more proper path, and piercing and tattoos did not fit with that image. Earrings from the 50s typically had a clip-on or screw-on mechanism to attach the jewellery to your ear lobe. Pierced earrings did not become the norm until the 1970s and later.
Throughout the 1950s, charm bracelets were a mainstay for women of all ages. The golden link bracelets had room for charms and pendants that reflected the wearer’s interests or travels. They also made an easy gift idea. Once a lady had the bracelet, she could receive charms for any gift-giving or sentimental occasion. It’s not unusual to see charm bracelets wherever you find estate jewellery, and some of the charms may feature gems or intricate details.
50s Estate Jewellery That Shines
Colonial Acres Coins offers estate jewellery for collectors looking for pieces in gold and silver from the 50s and other eras. Visit our website to see what we have in stock. Be sure to check back frequently or contact us if you have pieces of fine or heirloom quality jewellery that you want to sell.