Jewellery Design from Times Gone By

Jewellery is one of the most portable and durable forms of wealth – small wonder it’s also one of the most inherited. With so many of us lucky enough to own or be wearing a piece of jewellery originally chosen by a parent, grand parent or even more distant ancestor, it can be worth understanding what it is that you’re keeping safe for the next generation.

Like clothing, cars and music, jewellery has changed with the times, responding to new tastes and new developments and resulting in several distinct eras of design. A form of art that is literally millennia old, covering every distinct style of jewellery is beyond the scope of this article, so we’ve counted off four of the most common, most beloved design movements from across the 20th century – when many of the pieces in Australia’s jewellery boxes were created.

Art Nouveau

Arriving in the 1890s, Art Nouveau was an aesthetic movement coinciding with the earliest parts of the Belle Époque – a period of wealth and artistic innovation in France specifically and Europe broadly. Through its quarter century existence up until the First World War, Art Nouveau had a substantial impact on the jewellery world, establishing many of the motifs and techniques still in use today.

While jewellers throughout history have looked to the world around them for aesthetic guidance, this trend was pronounced throughout the Art Nouveau period. This manifested chiefly as a fascination with curved forms and floral designs, with many jewellers striving for both more realistic and more abstract interpretations of plants from the natural world. Pink Kimberley’s own Bloom Collection continues this trend into a new millennium, updating floral designs of the past for a new audience.


Briefly contemporaneous with Art Nouveau is the Edwardian era. The name of both the historical moment as well as the concurrent jewellery style, Edwardian covers a period from 1901 to 1910, with some historians expanding the definition to the eve of the First World War. A period of peace and prosperity in Europe, jewellery dating from this era tends towards flowing, organic pieces that give the impression of movement, captured in our Akuna ring.

Also worth noting is the inclusion of pearls in many Edwardian pieces. At times more valuable than diamonds during the decade, pearls feature in many statement pieces from the Edwardian era, often alongside other precious gems. Pink Kimberley offers our customers the chance to experience this combination for themselves through pieces such as the Rumi pendant, combining a stunning Argyle diamond with a luminous South Sea pearl.

Art Deco

Coming into its maturity in the 1920s, Art Deco represents a hard break with the styles of the past. Tracing its origin to immediately before the First World War but changing substantially over the following turbulent decade, Art Deco represented a turning point in global aesthetic tastes, substantially influencing a diverse series of fields from architecture to clothing, graphic arts and more.

As a result of these historical influences, Art Deco jewellery stands apart from both Edwardian and Art Nouveau, emphasising different aspects of each piece and different characteristics of each material. Most obvious is the shift towards geometric shapes – gone are the flowing lines and floral motifs of previous years. Instead, Art Deco jewellery prefers the use of straight lines and abstract shapes such as triangles, hexagons and rectangles, favouring symmetry where designers of previous years may have revelled in its absence. The introduction of white gold in 1912 and the rise in popularity of emerald cut gems transformed the look of the average piece – all qualities readily apparent in our Sojourn Ring.


A loose era dating from roughly 1935 to 1950, the Retro era was even more than other styles a product of its era. The twin disruptions of the Great Depression and the Second World War had a substantial effect on designers, with materials shortages forcing them to innovate. These new approaches to jewellery – fortunately – endured far longer than the lean years that inspired them, resulting in pieces that emphasised the underlying metal of a piece far more than the gem it held.

Pink Kimberley continues to honour these styles in pieces such as our Ethereal ring, showcasing our jewellers’ mastery of metalworking to create flowing, organic-seeming lines out of white gold.

Creating jewellery to be treasured

At Pink Kimberley, we believe that fine jewellery is something worth treasuring for generations. Part of an Australian family business with more than 50 years of experience, we’ve been privileged to see many of the bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants crafted by our jewellers become beloved heirlooms, handed down from parent to child in a cycle that will continue for decades.

If you’re looking for pink diamond jewellery that your children, your children’s children and their children will treasure their entire lives, explore our collection today.


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