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Mid-Century Modern Jewelry

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The Mid Century Modern period in jewelry spanned from the late 1940s to the end of the 1960s.Tastes shifted drastically and, as a result, the major jewel houses adopted a fresh new approach to precious metals, gemstones and design. During this era, wealthy American women flocked to Paris to obtain the very latest in innovative designs. The leaders in fashion included French houses such as Van Cleef & Arples, Mauboussin , Boucheronand Cartier.

“Invisible” settings by Van Cleef & Arples captured the imagination with seamless displays of precious stones such as rubies, sapphires and diamonds specially cut to form a blanket of gems with no setting visible to the viewer. The “ballerina” setting by Cartier set major colored gems as center stones and rimmed them with numerous tapered baguettes forming a ballerina skirt surrounding them. These were just a few of the innovations. Jewelry became wearable art.

The tastes of the wearer also dictated when and where an item could be worn. Basically, daytime was for yellow gold with perhaps a few semi-precious stones, and evening was for white diamonds and more elaborate formal designs. Harry Winston’s designs incorporated threads of platinum to hold cascades of gems, all seemingly sprinkled on a web of wire to dazzle the viewer. Long yellow gold chains worn together framed the face. Reproductions of Victorian jewelry made a small resurgence on a short-term basis. The artists Braque and Picasso influenced more geometric expressions of fireworks, satellites and galactic motifs.

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