Jewelry Trends from 1950s to 1970s

The post-WWII years saw a lot of changes in jewelry trends. The United States, along with the rest of the world, was struggling to define its identity, and that struggle often came through in the diverse jewelry designs of the time.

From molded plastics, to classic pearls, to carved wood pieces, vintage jewelry from the '50s, '60s, and '70s encapsulates a time of upheaval, growth, and sustained imagination.

Three Strand Pearl Necklace

1950s Jewelry Trends

The first few years of the '50s, the world was still emerging and recovering from WWII, and several years of austerity. As such, jewelry early in the decade was understated. As time went on, the trend began to lean toward large, ostentatious pieces, particularly rings adorned with faux gemstones, particularly pearls.

In the latter half of the decade, gold-tone jewelry began to gain popularity--the more of it, the better--along with glass bead necklaces, and large, chunky bangles made from Bakelite plastic.

1960s Jewelry Trends

Released in 1961, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" set the tone for jewelry trends early in the decade. Audrey Hepburn's iconic look from the movie's opening scene--the black Givenchy gown, the multi-strand pearl necklace, and the rhinestone-and-pearl hair comb worn tiara-style--started a trend for classic and classy jewelry.

As the decade wore on, and saw the advent of the Beatles, flower power, and war protests, the cultural and societal upheaval had an influence on jewelry design and trends. Jewelry designers began to favor asymmetrical designs, as well as bright colors. And thanks to the moon landing, space also became a popular jewelry motif, producing pieces that emulated stars and boasted space-age, futuristic design.

1970s Jewelry Trends

As the United States moved from a decade of peace and love to one of economic turmoil and gas shortages, jewelry designs once again mirrored the events of the day. Plastics--made from oil and natural gas--fell by the wayside in favor of more natural, elemental materials. Yellow gold was the metal of the day, often adorned with turquoise, lapis lazuli, or malachite.

The mid- to late-1970s saw a surge in men's jewelry in the form of thick gold chain necklaces, most of which stretched to the middle of the chest, sometimes suspending a medallion or charm of some sort. Many men even wore gold bracelets, and these trends were seen as the mark of the "macho man."

Shop our diverse collection of vintage jewelry, and find a piece of wearable history.

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