A Flapper Flashback…1920’s Jewelry

When I was in high school we had to read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The novel is considered a literary classic, but I sadly do not remember anything about it except that I know I read it. I do know the story takes place in 1922, when America was in a heyday. We had recovered from World War I and the economy was doing well. There were social gatherings where people dressed lavishly and image was everything.

This winter, The Great Gatsby movie (based on the book noted above) is set to be released. With this expectation, the fashion industry is predicting that styles will build on the retro feel that is already coming out of the Mad Men TV show (set in the 1960s). It’s interesting to see the similarities in jewelry styles between the 1960s and the 1920s. Let’s explore a few of the 1920’s jewelry trends to see why these two eras will be able to blend so well together this year.

When thinking of the 1920s, there are a few terms that come to mind. Finger waves. Speakeasies. Art Deco. Flappers. I don’t know about the other trends, but flapper-inspired jewelry is set to make a comeback this year.

Let’s start at the beginning. What was a “flapper?” A flapper was a brash woman who went against the norm for women of the time. She smoked, drank, danced, and frequented speakeasies. She held nothing back as she wore heavy makeup and donned a fashion style all her own.

While other women of the 1920s wore simple and elegant jewelry, long strands of beads or pearls are typically thought of as the iconic flapper jewelry. These necklaces were generally worn in a single layer around the neck and tied in a knot at the sternum. They would usually hang down to the waistline, but sometimes they went longer than that. If you recall my post about necklace lengths, opera length necklaces are best for accomplishing this style. These are necklaces ranging in lengths longer than 28 inches.

Multi-strand necklaces were also popular in the flapper style. If the necklace itself wasn’t multi-strand, ladies often layered several beaded or pearl necklaces together. When this was done, the strands would usually vary in length from choker length to opera length.

Pins, rings, and brooches were also very popular in the flapper style. These were often art deco in style using geometric shapes and large colorful gemstones. Elements depicting nature, such as leaves, and animals were also often incorporated into these jewelry pieces. Whatever elements they included, they were large focal pieces.

I find all of this to have an interesting similarity to the jewelry trends of the 1960s, which the fashion industry is saying are big this year. Multi-strand necklaces. Pins. Rings. Brooches. Large statement jewelry. All of these were fashionable in both eras. Most women I run into say they think of themselves as “little jewelry” women. They wear their wedding/engagement rings and maybe a thin chain with a small pendant. That’s it. With statement pieces being in vogue this year, I say break out of your shell and try them. Depending on your age, you wore them the first time around, why not enjoy a bit of your youth and do it again? I believe that bold jewelry is great fun, so I am in love with the idea of having it in style this year, especially when it calls on times gone by. So I challenge you, go to your local antique or vintage clothing store and get a piece of jewelry, whether it’s 1920s or 1960s, and have some fun!

Thanks for reading!



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