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JEWELRY HISTORY: THE 1960S

Let’s face it; who doesn’t love a good vintage throwback dress-up party? To help give you some dress up ideas, we put together a guide on how to create an authentic ’60s look. Let us give you some tidbits on the decade...

1960S JEWELRY HISTORY

The costume jewelry of the 1960s looked pretty much the same at the beginning as the previous decade. However, a change was brewing. Designs were becoming unconventional, daring and more expressive. By the end of the decade, 1960s fashion accessories had transitioned from familiar shiny gold parures to fantastic dramatic designs constructed in budget-friendly new plastics. Women were no longer concerned with matching earrings, brooches, rings, necklaces and sometimes bracelets. Femininity (pearls and a slender black dress) were out and cool Space Age style was in. What sparked this forward-looking, eccentric, post-war mood in fashion? Buzz Aldrin's inspirational first steps on the moon.

1960S JEWELRY TRENDS: NECKLACES

In the 1960s, no fashion accessory was more sought after than the statement necklace. During that time, style-setters such as Jackie Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson popularized the wearing of  these statement necklaces. Necklaces in the 60s resembled art, they were bold and experimental with a big influence from the growing hippie movement. They shined bright with gemstones such as amethysts, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds which allowed for the signature disco ball look.

Furthermore, everyone was rockin’ rosaries, pendant prayers, prayer cloths—and peace symbols. Peace symbols? In jewelry? Yep. And if you were a teenager or young 20-something woman during the 1960s, you probably rocked at least one of these iconic pieces of jewelry, courtesy of your favorite celebrities. Whether they were celebrating their faith, being rebellious about war protests, or just looking cool and hip, these icons helped make rosaries, prayer beads and other religious jewelry a must-have statement piece for any fashionista.

Likewise, long necklaces were also a popular fashion trend in the 1960s. In fact, film stars like Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly sported them from time to time.  Initially, jewelers had a difficult time finding the stringing material they needed to make long strands of beads. Even though they tried silk and cotton string, none of it was strong enough to hold all that weight. Then in 1966 nylon came along with its strength and resilience; long strands could then be used without any worry about kinking. 

Similarly, Mikimoto developed a technique for growing pearls that could be worn on long necklaces in 1962. Mikimoto's innovation became popular amongst the younger generation who were inspired to create names for these pearl strands, such as "Jingu Pearl," "Decade Necklace," and "Kogoe." 

1960S JEWELRY TRENDS: EARRINGS

1960s earrings were tiny or large, but they were never in between. If worn by celebrities or models, the style was in. If not, the style was out. Earring styles included everything from studs to simple polished hoops to large dangling teardrops.

Luxury earrings had a lot of different meanings. In the 1960s, single diamond stud earrings were considered the ultimate luxury – grander than hoops or dangles – as well as a sign of social status. Stud earrings were called "bijoux pop." They were tiny, fashionable, and became an instant hit. They were worn by celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. Surprisingly, soon after the birth of Bart Simpson, single diamond stud earrings even became trendy for men to wear. Popularized by celebrities like James Dean and Elvis Presley.

One of the most popular trends in the 1960s were heart-shaped drop earrings. The French actress Brigitte Bardot made it into a real symbol of her personality. Heart-shaped drop earrings from the 1960s were a sophisticated symbol of wealth. These lavish hoops were made of yellow gold and encrusted with diamonds, sapphires and rubies. 

Another top trend of the 60s was long earrings. In 1963, Time Magazine declared that “the long-forgotten dangly earring is making a comeback.” By now, pierced ear lobes had become socially appropriate. Now women could wear dangling, huge earrings — and the bigger, the better. As women started to wear their hair shorter or tucked back under a headband, this focused attention on the neck and ears. The pierced ear lobes became the ideal spot to sport multi color, exaggerated hoops in the new perspex materials of the day.

Additionally, It was during the 1960s that long pendent earrings reached the height of its popularity. Contrary to popular belief, these big earrings were not made popular by actresses and celebrities, but by women in certain cities and towns who wore these interesting designs as a symbol of freedom from tradition and trends. Although, we are sure starlets like Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Twiggy contributed to the rise of the long pendant earrings' popularity.

Surprisingly, long earrings for women were even the epitome of fashion for the bohemian woman. These earrings were simple, in subdued neutral colors and often dangly. Hippies embraced the anti-materialism of their generation by wearing inexpensive, non-precious stones. In the 60s, the major symbols attached to long earrings for women included moons, stars, sunbursts and even butterflies.

Let's not forget, hoop earrings for women were also considered a must have fashion statement in the 60`s and 70`s. Hoop earrings for women were initially designed to create a larger surface area on which to mount precious stones, the simple hoop design, clean lines and sheer brilliance of diamonds caught the public's attention instantly. Black and white, polka-dot, striped, floral, and colored. Vertical gold hoops or horizontal black bands. Round or square. The iconic silhouette of the 1960s was easy to spot: large hoop earrings. And not just on one stylish celebrity but many.

The popular hoop earring style spread from European nobility to celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Jacqueline Kennedy and many more. Another big influence for wearing hoops as earrings was Audrey Hepburn from the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Wearing hoop earrings certainly gave her a glamorous look and after watching this film many women started to try out this trend in different sizes.

The 1960s were a time of change. The iconic hoop earring were no exception, growing to enormous sizes in the ’60s. In the first few years of the decade, hoops were introduced with a diameter of a mere 3”. Accordingly, the size of the hoop earrings worn by celebrities changed as well during the 60s, from a tiny hoop that hung a few millimeters from the earlobe to larger sizes that would hang down half way down the length of the ear. 

In the 1960s, male celebrities like The Beatles, Elvis Presley , David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Johnny Cash, Prince, Jim Morrison and Steve McQueen showed off their rebellious sides by wearing hoop earrings.  Sir Mick Jagger, lead singer of The Rolling Stones, made it sartorially acceptable for men to wear hoop earrings in the 1960s. He gave them a rock-and-roll image and was often photographed wearing several pairs at a time. Young men in the 1960s began to wear hoop earrings as a symbol of nonconformity and spontaneous individuality instead of strictly for their artistic value - just as they had several hundred years .

1960S JEWELRY TRENDS: RINGS

The 1960s were a decade of excess. In fashion, from disco-floor-length caftans to over-sized cinched belts or pants. Rings were no exception, either.

In the early 1960s, the fashion for diamond rings moved from bar set with stones to large solitaire diamonds. A subtle appreciation of the modern era and its styles led to Art Deco influences, which were visible in design and craftsmanship. Settings became more narrow, shank height lower, and overall ring size scaled down for greater proportionality, adding an air of sophistication. Ring designs in the 60s was all about paying homage to the classics.

Luxurious diamond rings were crafted from blue, red, or chocolate diamonds exclusively for the ’60s Jet Set audience. Cheaper alternatives were also available. Rings were sometimes made of zirconium, a synthetic element that looks like a naturally occurring gemstone. It was available in many shades, including yellow, white, pink and blue.

Not to mention, one of the biggest trends that came from this era was mixing different metals. You had silver, gold and platinum styles mixed and matched into one beautiful ring.

1960S JEWELRY TRENDS: BRACELETS

In the '60s, fashion most definitely came before function. But it was ok because that's when the birth of the colorful, cute bejeweled "bracelet by the yard" attire emerged. 

Whether they were plastic, luminous, gold or painted wooden bangles, it’s clear that the people of the 60s were huge fans of bracelets and layered them on till they couldn’t see their arms. Easily obtained in a host of shades, the ultimate 1960s bracelets were bangles. Bangles allowed women to refresh their outfits quickly and easily, and often, bangles were able to employ a host of trends simultaneously. Chunky plastic bangles and painted wooden bangles in striking color combinations were the perfect bohemian 1960s fashion accessory, as were thin bangle stacks looping the entire arm. New plastics like resin, vinyl and perspex were easily assessable for this style, as well as exotic materials such as ivory,  tortoise-shell and coral.

1960s bracelets were, by all accounts, bold and beautiful. The handmade nylon bands featured a variety of colors and patterns that gave them a vibrant look. As the decade progressed the bracelet came to be decorated with beads and charms of varied shapes and sizes. Furthermore, in addition to being a symbol of style, they acted as a reminder of where one’s loyalties lay. If one wore a bracelet with monarchist signs or one with communism signs, it meant something more than just a style statement. 

In the 1960s, beaded bracelets were all the rage and championed by style icons like Jane Birkin. No outfit was complete without a versatile stack of bracelets accenting a little summer dress or a full-length evening gown. Beaded bracelets from the 1960s were made with a variety of materials. These include, macrame, hair beads, Czech glass and plastic beads.

Consequently, a high end beaded bracelets emerged from this mainstream trend. Beaded jewelry with a style that reflected the natural beauty of Southwestern Native Amercians coupled with a touch of diamonds. As the rich and famous cruised around town in their open sports cars, so did celebrities – like Jackie Kennedy – who started wearing these high end beaded bracelets.

At first, they were worn by women just to show they were more affluent than others. To wear them was to announce your arrival as an independent woman with a certain amount of flair. A wealthy woman’s wardrobe would not be complete without beaded bangles of every color and style. Rubies, sapphires and pearls adorned bangle bracelets of every size and uniqueness.

Another popular trend was chiffon bracelets made in a variety of colors and patterns and during the 1960s, were one of the most popular fashion accessories worn by rich hippies. Swathed in fabric bracelets, jet-setters of the 1960s were often seen in a flurry of colorful strands. Chiffon bracelets were meant to give a casual outfit a touch of class. Worn by celebrities like Twiggy, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Jackie Kennedy, chiffon bracelets became a `must-have' item in the 1960s because of how popular they were with celebrities.

Similarly, a different celebrity favorite and mainstream style was the charm bracelet for women. It featured many charms of different shapes and sizes, but remained a timeless fashion accessory. Featuring an array of crystals, the 1960s charm bracelet exuded luxury and glamour. Designed to be worn on special occasions with formal dress and gowns, it was a style staple for that decade.  Celebrities fans of the 60s charm bracelet for women style included Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.

The 1960s was the era that brought about a revolution in styles and attitudes. They ranged from chunky, colorful stones with oversized shapes, to pretty statement designs that evoked the spirit of Swinging Sixties sophistication.