Visualise fine jewellery, and dazzling images of gold platinum and precious stones immediately spring to mind. Pieces are uniquely original, handcrafted and heavyweight… and have price tags to match.
Traditionally, that’s spot on. But as we shift into a new era, the lines that define high-end jewellery have become increasingly blurred.
Fine jewellery classified
In the past, fine jewellery was carefully classified as hand
-made, limited edition and crafted from the apex precious metals of platinum and gold. Rings, brooches and necklaces were only set with rare, flawless and brilliantly cut natural gemstones – diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds.
Karats were counted and stones inspected for the tiniest of flaws. Only the wealthy had the privilege of wearing fine pieces of jewellery.
As time progressed, gems like aquamarine, jade and pearl – naturally formed and cultivated – were accepted by jewellers as high end and valuable. Precious metals were used in solid form, and only gold of 10 karats or more was deemed good enough for the well-heeled who’s who.
Bright young things
In the 1920s, the era of bright young things extended to jewellery. It was a decadent, flamboyant period of history that followed the misery of the Great War.
In true Bohemian spirit, women of all social classes were adorning themselves in slinky, dropped waist outfits, outrageous hats, colourful headscarves and feather boas.
In keeping with the trend of bold and beautiful, inexpensive rings, brooches and necklaces, made from inferior metals, were plated in gold and silver to create 1920s bling. This was the first example of costume jewellery that featured large chunks of crystal, glass, tanzanite and rhinestone to add dazzle to the shine.
Costume jewellery comes of age
In the 1940s, retro jewellery was in. Classic pieces made way for lavish designs defined by the extravagant use of manufactured gemstones. As the shadows of World War II grew longer, precious metals were replaced by low cost alloys; enamelled for effect.
Cool, creative and affordable to the masses, costume jewellery came of age and has endured, in one form or another, to this day.
The crossover begins
Contemporary jewellers are turning convention on its head by fusing the concept of fine jewellery with that of costume or fashion jewellery. Flawless top karat centre pieces are being surrounded by manufactured stones and vice versa.
Settings vary from solid high end precious metals to brass, copper and sterling silver, dressed up to impress. Although this melange of genres has broken a generations-old jewellery classifications code, consumers gave their approval for these creations. Mass produced fashion jewellery is sizzling hot, and has been for a while.
Non-traditional materials are trending
An exciting new trend is the integration of non-traditional materials into jewellery design. Skyrocketing commodity prices coupled with demand from millennials for out of the box ‘everything’ has created an exotic niche that big names like Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels and even Tiffany are exploiting.
Rare hardwoods are replacing precious metals.
Leather is adding a new and exciting dimension to design.
Thongs and organic cords are the new normal around the neck.
Ceramics paired with gold and silver is creating jewellery with understated elegance.
Rubber, coal, meteorite fragments, steel from AK47s and even dinosaur bones are being carefully incorporated into high end fine pieces to create a way out 21st century that’s unique, distinctive and fabulously futuristic.
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At lamna, we offer fast, discreet loans against the value of a wide range of assets, including jewellery and luxury watches.
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