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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Jewelry Fads And Fancies

( Article orginally published May 1952 )

Masculine fashions in jewelry remain comparatively static with rather simple designs in cuff links, rings, and tie clips foremost as favorites. But what of female fashion in jewelry? It varies almost as' much as fashions in clothes. One redeeming factor in the field of jewelry, which is lacking in the fashion line, is when jewelry ages it is not tossed aside, but treasured and proudly heralded as "an heirloom piece". If harried husbands could only instill this same frame of mind into their ladies fair, fashion-wise, they would undoubtedly assume an undaunted smile not unlike the proverbial Cheshire cat.

Although jewelry was originally extensively worn by men rather than women, it is doubtful that it ever ran the gamut experienced in the past few years. Amazingly enough, many of the modern styles are borrowed from our grandmothers, with a bit of streamlining, while many of the styles popular with our grandmothers date back centuries for their basic design. The custom of wearing earrings for example, is attributed to the early Orientals and dates back many dynasties. Ears were either pierced or the trinkets hung from the ear proving the present day mode of "dangle" earrings is not the latest fad. The custom of pierced ears seems to have penetrated through Asia Minor to the West and at various times the custom has run in cycles. At the present it is again Corning into being with antique shops the country over supplying earrings of the type, to fashionable women.

The cross has long reigned as the most popular motif used in the pendant, with medallion and monogram motifs running a close second. Cameos have been consistently popular for many years and the forms they take, and the uses they perform are manifold. Some are simply hung as a pendant from chains, others are transformed into lockets, and still others take the form of earrings or brooches. But this again proves there is nothing new in the line of jewelry.

Perhaps the oldest form of personal adornment must be attributed to the common button, the most utilitarian form of jewelry. Modern day machine manufactured buttons are a sad comparison to the artistic examples worn by our forebears. Antique buttons are sought after today and can be seen in many forms other than their intended use. They are mounted as earrings and pins, doubled for cuff links, hung from chains and charm bracelets, mounted into rings, and used as decorative accessories on hats, handbags, and other items of personal attire. Designs in buttons vary more than any other type of jewelry and materials used are many, including wood, gold, silver, ivory, brass, copper, in fact practically any material that is workable has been made into buttons. They are filigreed, carved, set with gems, damaskeened, enameled, covered and attractively ornamented in many ways. It seems to us that few of the fine antique buttons serve their original purpose.

If a poll were taken to determine the percentage of people wearing or owning rings it is probable the percentage would run extremely high, as rings have always been the most popular type of jewelry worn by both ladies and gentlemen. Happily, they are worn with more discretion than in early times. Fashion has influenced the wearing of rings from time immemorial with the style of one moment calling for a single ring, and at other times demanding rings galore with hands covered completely, or if gloves were worn rings were thrust over them.

A constant recurrence to antique styles is prevalent in many articles of the twentieth century, from massive furniture down to the most minute earring. Ornateness is giving away to a more free flowing style, and the world in general looks more tailored than at any time in history. This is a good indication that a basic style is necessary for immortality. Styles will vacillate in the future as in the past, only to return to the good and basic at welcome intervals. Fashion...the greatest slave of mankind.

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