Retro Period: Jazzing up the Post World War II Years

The Retro jewelry period, or Cocktail jewelry as it is sometimes called, took place after World War II. As a reaction to the dire world conflict, jewelry became bolder.

Unlike the Art Deco style, Retro jewelry has soft curves and feminine motifs. Gold regained popularity, as platinum was essential to the war effort and scarcely available for commercial use. Different colors of gold, such as yellow, rose, and green, were used in striking combinations.

Popular gemstones included aquamarines, topaz, and citrines, as well as synthetic rubies and sapphires. When set in huge rectangular cuts used in cocktail rings, oversize bracelets, and watches was very popular. Patriotic themes were also popular. When diamonds, sapphires, and rubies were often paired together, and three dimensional sculptural ribbons, bows, and folds made out of metal were common.

In the Retro period, jewelry was glamorous and dramatic. Retro necklaces often served as a focal point during this period, and were shortened to choker- or collar-length to complement the higher necked fashions.

From flamboyant cocktail rings set with big, beautifully colorful stones to necklaces dripping with bejeweled fruit. Retro era jewelry makes a bold, sophisticated statement. Because they often have a playful quality to them, Retro necklaces tend to look just as fabulous during the day as they do in the evening. But whether you prefer to wear your Retro jewelry on a daily basis or save it for special occasions, it’s sure to become a personal favorite.

The Retro Period is also known as Retro Modern. The name itself suggests looking both backward and forward and Retro jewelry looks both to the past and to the future for its inspiration and themes. The streamlined geometric and linear looks of the Art Deco Period evolved to become larger and more three dimensional with curves and asymmetric motifs.

The prevalent themes of Retro jewelry were feminine and patriotic, or industrial, motifs. Feminine styles included flowers, birds, ribbons, bows, scrolls and fabric like folds. Patriotic and industrial styles included tank tread bracelets. They typically have large repetitive links evoking tank tracks and war industry production lines as well as red, white and blue stones used on stylized flags and military type insignias.

The Retro years, though difficult for the great jewelry houses of war torn Europe, were particularly creative for American jewelers and for many famous designers, including Mauboussin, Verdura, Flato, Schlumberger and Seaman Schepps.

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