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Vintage necklace Bergdorf Goodman 1990s


It was Cecil Beaton, the British photographer who shot the famous wedding pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and went on to design the costumes for My Fair Lady, who said: “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”

Jewellery is a sure-fire way to tell others that we are interesting. Wear a necklace made of safety pins with a Chanel suit and you are certain to start a conversation. Throughout history, we have adorned our bodies with designs that tell the world we belong to a particular “tribe” or culture.

During the Arts and Crafts Movement at the end of the 19th century, for example, jewellery was silver and decorated with semi-precious stones such as amethyst, amazonite and turquoise. The purpose was to send the message that you were a socialist, an intellectual, that the gold and diamonds preferred by the establishment were not for you.

Come the Art Nouveau era, jewellery became even more artistic. Statement pieces by Rene Lalique, Alphonse Mucha and Georges Fouquet featured a woman emerging from a dragonfly, decaying flowers, bats and enormous beetles. The message was clear: I choose this jewellery because I am a woman who goes against convention.

During the 1920s and 1930s, modern materials such as Bakelite, Galalith and Celluloid were combined with chrome plating to resemble the architecture and sense of speed for a new time. Primary colours associated with the Bauhaus School were used for geometric, machine age shapes.

If you are seeking a special gift, glamorous pieces from the 1940s to the 1960s are in high demand. Look to the great American costume jewellery manufacturers such as Juliana, Joseff of Hollywood, Miriam Haskell and Hobe – their pieces were worn by Marlene Dietrich, Veronica Lake and Marilyn Monroe. Today, you can still buy dramatic examples by these companies at affordable prices.

The most sought-after jewellery presently hails from the 1970s to the 1980s and it is available at prices that won’t break the bank. Look for Trifari, Monet, Cirio and Bergdorf Goodman, for instance. Pop one of the triple-gold plated, enamelled collars round your neck and you will feel like Jerry Hall on the cover of Vogue or Catherine Deneuve at a cocktail party with Yves Saint Laurent. With prices starting at £25 for a bracelet and £45 for a necklace, you will have a collectible design to pass to style-lovers of the future. I will leave the last words on style to Cecil Beaton: “Perhaps the world’s second worst crime is boredom. The first is being a bore.”




About Us

The Design Gallery was launched in 2002 to specialise in progressive design movements of the 19th and 20th Century. We met whilst studying at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and discovered that we shared a passion for design, especially Art Deco, Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts Movement.

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