Whether modestly small or unabashedly oversized, pear-shaped or princess cut, diamonds have a timeless appeal that lends itself naturally to necklaces. After all, this is where they can best flatter a woman’s décolletage. Diamonds, like any other accessory, are susceptible to the whims of fashion trends, and as long as the shiny gems have been made into pendants, there have been designs and styles preferred over others. Becoming familiar with the many fascinating eras of diamond necklace trends is about more than discerning between vintage and vintage-inspired. Here are the essential time periods of which keen buyers should be aware.
From circa 1700 to around 1840, Georgian-style jewelry was the favored look. Each piece was handmade and therefore unique, making any item from this era particularly valuable. Short necklaces with classical motifs, like laurels, wreaths and repeating patterns and small portraits, were commonly worn. Rare and uncommonly colorful, Georgian jewelry often featured rose diamonds, garnets and topaz, and they are highly sought.
One of the more recognizable eras, Victorian, which spanned from before 1840 to around 1900-during the reign of Queen Victoria-features opulently-styled pieces, including diamond pendants, that are eye-catching and elaborate. The fine detail appeals to many jewelry buyers because it has a decidedly feminine air. Colorful, with bright gemstones and gold filigree, vintage Victorian pieces are highly romantic.
With a touch of Asian influence and a never-ending parade of whimsical flora and fauna, Art Nouveau designs entranced wearers from the 1890s until about 1915. Heralding from France, the movement presented items that focused on natural themes and curving, organic lines rather than leaning on bright baubles. Finding a diamond Art Nouveau necklace is difficult, though not impossible.
One of the great eras for diamonds, the Edwardian period, which spanned the late 1890s into the early 1920s, was as extravagant as the Victorian age, but designers opted to highlight the almighty colorless diamond first and foremost, with precious and semi-precious gems like pearls, rubies and sapphires serving as accents. The hallmark of Edwardian pieces is the elegant, lacy look of filigree.
One of the best-known eras for jewelry, Art Deco diamond necklaces are long with geometric patterns, Egyptian imagery or African themes. They boast plenty of gold, semi-precious stones and even glass beads, among other decorative flourishes, and they often showcase combinations of stones for a bright, abstract effect.
The Retro era is the final period of note. Beginning in 1930 and trailing off around 1950, Retro was ostentatious and playful, with a noted emphasis on semi-precious stones. Large-scale diamonds are a bit harder to come by, but diamond necklaces accented with gold, intricate designs and semi-precious stones are still readily available.
Though modern diamond necklaces tend towards minimalism, with clean lines and a single central focus of one or three stones, vintage pendants are far more glamorous and striking, with colorful gems and decorative touches meant to steal the show. Authentic vintage pieces are sometimes hard to find, but vintage-inspired and custom-made options are widely available and offer a similar look.