My husband and I traveled back in time this weekend, or at least it felt like we did. We were on our way to Renninger’s Antique Market in Kutztown, PA, when we saw a sign for World War II days at the Reading Airport and we decided to go there instead. We are very glad we decided to change our plans!
It was literally a step back in time. There were ladies done up with cotton dresses and victory curls, men walking around in uniforms, battle reenactment villages, and shops selling all things 1940s while big band music and war-era radio clips played over the sound system. I have a hidden obsession with this time period so I felt like I was among my own people here.
After we got home, I started to think about my recent meeting with the SCORE business advisors (please see my last entry) because I realized part of my trouble. The SCORE advisor suggested I streamline my business, but there are two sides to me and I’m trying to express both of them through my jewelry. There is the side who likes the sleek elegant modern look as I wrote about in my last post, but there is also the side that loves the vintage jewelry, especially that of the 1920s through the 1940s. I previously wrote about jewelry from the 1920s, but this weekend inspired me to look into jewelry of the 1940s.
This was an interesting time for the jewelry industry because metals were rationed. Sterling started to gain in popularity because the base metals were needed for the war effort while gold and silver were also rationed for use as currency. White metal jewelry was very popular because of this.
Because of the war, it was difficult to have gemstones imported. For this reason, gemstones were often reused from old and broken jewelry. Synthetic stones also started to become popular during this era as well as jewelry without any stones in it. Glass and lucite started to make an appearance in substitution for metal jewelry and gemstone.
When stones were imported, they often came from European jewelers. Some of the popular stones included topaz, citrine, amethyst, rubies, and sapphires. Rubies and sapphires became especially popular in patriotic-themed pieces.
In regards to the style, many pieces featured bows, ribbons, and other 3-dimensional shapes. Toward the end of the war, American themed jewelry became popular with the use of flags and red,white, and blue stones.
Art Deco styles and animal themes were popular design elements in 1940s jewelry. These were often found in pins, which were very popular and are still collectable pieces today.
Bib style necklaces, made with layers or multiple strands of metal or stones became popular especially toward the end of the 1940s. Today you can see bib style necklaces coming back into vogue with modern materials and designs.
Many of the styles which were popular in the 1920s and 1930s remained popular through the 1940s, but after the 1940s, styles started to change dramatically.
This is a whirlwind summary of the jewelry in the 1940s, but there is so much more to it than this. If you have any thoughts, memories, or input, please feel free to share it.
If you are interested in reading more about the World War II Days at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, please check out their website: MAAM WWII Weekend. I’m really hoping we can go again next year.
For now, thanks for stopping by!