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Retro Jewelry

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The Retro Jewelry era began around 1935 and lasted well into the 50s. This span of time encompassed the recovery after the stock market crash of 1929 and the global turmoil of World War II.

Jewelry design departed from the hard-edge cold symmetry of the Deco period .The war effort curtailed the use of platinum; as a result, jewelry designers in the United States turned to gold as a substitute metal. Alloys producing hues of gold in yellow, rose and occasionally green were sometimes employed in the same piece.

The designs were exuberant, bold and larger than before. Hollywood again jumped on the bandwagon; its movie queens, including Joan Crawford, Hedy Lamarr and Rita Hayworth, all wore ostentatious Retro pieces.

The three-dimensional designs of the Retro period featured large semi-precious gems such as citrine, amethyst, aquamarine and garnet, often in huge rectangular cuts.

Stylized, polished bow knots, ribbons, curlicues, flowers and even animals were depicted. Large and bold cuff bracelets in bright high polish showcased stones of 30-to-50 carats with sparkling diamond accents.

Wrist watches displayed ribbon designs enhanced with caliber-cut rubies and parve diamonds. Spring-loaded watch covers served as double-duty jewels, combining a bracelet with the practical use of a wrist watch.

Influential designers of the period included Paul Falto, Seamann Sheppes and Van Cleef & Arpels. Sadly, many fine examples of the period were lost or destroyed during the 70s and 80s as their stones were remounted into more current, and often passé, designs.

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