Gemstone Trends: Past & Present

Posted on the 31st October 2016

Gemstones Trends through the ages!

19th Century:

Until the beginning of the 20th century jewellery and gemstones had their own movements, they followed their own trends based on new jewellery-making techniques and evolutionary new gem-cutting methods and in some cases they were influenced by famous artistic or even architectural movements popular at the time. 

For instance, in the late 19th century the Art Nouveau movement dominated the art world and started to spread into other areas too such as architecture, product design etc. This strong feeling of admiration towards nature and its creation finally caught up with the jewellery world. New intricate designs were created and lesser known gemstones came to the surface. Some of the most common gems of that period were: moonstones, opals, tourmalines, zircons, keshi pearls, and garnets. 

20th Century:

The next important period for jewellery and gemstones was the Edwardian period where new diamond-cutting and setting techniques pushed the design towards colourless diamonds of all sizes that were now cut in such a way that their true potential of brilliance and sparkle started to unfold. Very high end pieces were “showing off” the wide variety of cuts and shapes that cutters were now able to give to diamonds, round brilliant-cuts, baguettes and squares were starring in almost every jewellery. The stones that were mostly used to accompany the eye-catching new kind of diamonds were “The Big 3” – rubies, emeralds and sapphires.   

Art Deco followed the Edwardian period and I believe it is safe to say it is the most famous, the most important and the most influential period of the jewellery and gemstone world. The designs praised the symmetry and balance of a pure geometry and the constant improvement of precision gem-cutting and the rising quality of craftsmanship were able to translate into jewellery the geometrical beauty that was seen in architecture and the arts. One of the biggest achievements of that period was the “Mystery Setting” and invisible setting invented and patented by "Van Cleef & Arpels” that brought gemstones into life, for the first time gemstones were set in a way that their coloured beauty was displayed without the interference of metal parts (prongs). The most trending gemstones of this period were diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires accompanied with opaque stones such as onyx, coral, lapis and malachite creating an interesting diversity colours and different levels of transparencies. 

During the following decades jewellery and gemstone trends gradually started to align more and more with fashion. Also discoveries of new mines and new gemstones always created demand for those new interesting stones.

1960s and 70s: 

The decades that are mostly identified with the boho and hippie look. When you think of the 60’s a burst of colours, patterns and flowers are the first thing that comes in mind! The jewellery of that era reflected that burst of colour and that tendency to connect with nature. High end jewellery was replaced with more imperfect handmade silver pieces decorated by mostly organic materials. Stones were praised for their natural rough look, their organic shapes and their unique imperfections, a style that was also found in exotic jewellery around the world. Trending gemstones of the time were uncut crystals of amethyst and rose quartz, boulder turquoise, wood beads, shells and amber. 

1980s and 90s: 

The decade of economic growth that was noticeable in many different aspects of life, from the upgraded way of living, to the bold luxury products and the booming kitsch movement.  Jewellery and gemstones could not be left out either. Designs became bigger and bigger with massive gold components and big stones that were used even for everyday jewellery, going to the gym was not an excuse to take off your rings! The vivid colours and more importantly the combination of complimentary colours became the norm of that period. Bulky multi-coloured jewellery is adorned with stones like: topaz, amethyst, citrine and peridot as they perfectly translated the era’s colour-blocking trend. 

2000s and 2010s: 

The constant technological evolution improved even more gem-cutting making it easier, faster and more precise especially in very small sizes. Designers embraced this new world of small and more affordable stones and began to create inexpensive everyday jewellery with a wide range of small coloured gemstones usually secured in pave settings giving a luxurious look and a captivating brilliance that up to now only high-end jewellery had.  

Nowadays coloured gemstones have a leading role in jewellery, customers have overcome the “Diamond & Big 3 obsession” and begun to appreciate the beauty of all gemstones. Peach and pink sapphires have become the centre stone of engagement rings and recently discovered stones like tanzanite and Paraiba tourmaline have replaced sapphires as the dominant stone in the blue gems kingdom. Spinels are compared to rubies and phenomenal stones like opals have become a core element of modern jewellery.  

The future: rock on!