About Mid-Century Jewelry
Mid-Century jewelry burst with all the optimism and opulence of the post-war world, from the fabulous ’50s through the mid-’60s. Yellow gold jewelry stuck around, but gained rich textures, twists, and turns. Big, gemmy ear clips, bib or fringe necklaces, bangles, bracelet watches, and diamond-encrusted wrist huggers were all favorites of this lavish and eclectic period. Matching sets of jewelry made a comeback, and the classically sweet charm bracelet allowed its owner to customize with as many charms as possible.
Diamond Bracelet Watch
French Plique-a-Jour Flower Brooch
Natural Jadeite, Platinum, and Diamond Earrings
Emerald, Diamond, and Platinum Bracelet
Vintage Car Charm Bracelet
Gem Set Doggy Pin
Pretty pearls went from day to evening seamlessly, and embodied the new ultra-feminine aesthetic, so much so that a pearl choker is still shorthand for a certain traditional look. The Mid-Century preferred single or double (or more!) matched strands, and all the better if their natural refinement is augmented by a massive bejeweled clasp.
Double Strand Cultured Pearl Necklace with Diamond Clasp
Diamond, Cultured Pearl, and Platinum Bracelet
Pearl, Platinum, and Diamond Bracelet
Fun figural and floral motifs only increased in popularity, especially for brooches. These lighthearted creatures keep up the spirit of the period, regardless of subject matter. Flowers, berries, bees, sea creatures, and many other forms of animal and plant life flourished under these new favorable conditions.
18k Gold Fox Pin
Platinum and Diamond Lily Pin
Star Sapphire and Carved Emerald Brooch
The space race and geopolitics of the “Atomic Age” inspired nearly every aspect of Mid-Century design, and jewelry was no exception. “Sputnik” baubles, starbursts, sunbursts, and other stellar styles touched down on the era’s most stylish wearers.
Gemstone “Sputnik” Ring
Platinum and Diamond Rocket Ship Brooch
Diamond Sunburst Earrings
The Mid-Century era is a sumptuous time for engagement rings, when stunning center stones returned to the scene after the lean war years and took center stage. New brilliant shapes developed near the beginning of the twentieth century—such as the chic marquise—rose to stardom in this era, though not to the exclusion of classic round brilliants and ever-elegant emerald cuts!
Emerald-Cut Diamond Ring
Marquise Diamond Engagement Ring
Diamond Wedding Set
Nor were piles of diamonds reserved for engagement rings only. What pairs perfectly with a signature Mid-Century cocktail…? A splashy diamond cocktail ring, of course! Taken straight or with a colored-stone chaser, they never run dry and are guaranteed hangover-free.
Double Pear Shape Diamond Cocktail Ring
Diamond Bow Motif Cocktail Ring
Fancy Platinum and Diamond Cocktail Ring
Marquise Diamond Mid-Century Ring
Yellow Sapphire and Diamond Cocktail Ring
Baguette Diamond Cocktail Ring
In contrast to all this opulence, a growing movement of studio jewelry in the Mid-Century Modern style took inspiration from the pre-war European avant-garde. These pieces of “wearable art” foreshadowed the countercultural movements of the late 1960s and a reaction against conspicuous displays of wealth and luxury.
Emerald and Diamond Ring
Aquamarine and Diamond Brooch
Learn more about the lavish splendor of the fabulous ’50s and the influences behind it on our sister site, Antique Jewelry University.