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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 in our Advanced Learning section.