Masterpieces of French Jewelry – Postwar Period After World War II there was a scarcity of precit the fine translucency of the blue enameling as well as the dimensional design of the life-like bird.
After World War II there was a scarcity of precious metals and fine gemstones. Jewelers began mixing gold with different alloys such as copper, silver and zinc which created a gold in different shades of colors. Amethyst, citrines, tourmalines and turquoise replaced the more expensive gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
The new designs emerging in jewelry were reflective of the feminine style of clothing created by the young fashion designers such as Balmain, Givenchy, Balenciaga and Dior. Popular jewelry motifs included flowers, hats, dogs, parasols, birds and fish. One of the most extraordinary bird clips was designed by Mellerio in 1952. This life sized humming bird brooch was made in gold and platinum with the finest translucent enameling in shades of blue. The beak and wings are paved in diamonds and small ruby stones for the eyes. I was amazed at the fine translucency of the blue enameling as well as the dimensional design of the life-like bird.
The 40’s and 50’s gave us gold jewelry in large chunky bold designs. The bracelets were wide links and the necklaces were designed with snake and rope chains. The stones were large and colorful set into warm tones of gold. One of my favorite examples of this style is a bracelet and earring set created by an unknown artist with topaz briolettes set into the gold “standing” upright. What a statement this jewelry must’ve made!
Jewelers began producing sculptural gold designed pieces in dimensional patterns. Waves, sun rays, scalloped and bows in color combinations of yellow and rose gold. Ladies wore their jewelry in sets, called “parures,” which included a matching necklace, bracelet, earrings and ring. In the films of the time, this wonderful new jewelry could be seen worn on screen by beautiful starlets, accompanied with equally fantastic evening gowns.
Photo credit Masterpieces of French Jewelry, Judith Price, Running Press 2006