Jewelry in the 1980’s & 90’s

For the jewelry industry, the 1980s might be defined as the age of the professional woman. Discarding the hippie, earth mother vision of the earlier decade, the ‘80s saw the rise of the powerful corporate woman, bounding into board rooms with broad-shouldered tailored suits, full of vim and vigor.

Jewelry designers responded to the needs of the executive woman by creating practical jewelry that was decorative yet wouldn’t interfere with her busy lifestyle. Short, sleek necklaces that accentuated the sharp structured lines of the business suit replaced the long chains and necklaces of the ‘70s. To offset her often colorless corporate attire, the fashion sensitive woman often selected bold, colorful earrings or ample gem-set finger bands.

Yellow gold and diamonds, which became a hit in the 1970s, remained in vogue. But the most original creations now featured precious and semi-precious stones set in yellow gold. Sapphires of all hues and delicately shaded emeralds saw new homes next to colored stones such as red tourmaline, blue topaz, and purple amethyst. Rounded, soft contours now typified the jewelry designs.

With the stock market boom, and a sudden onslaught of new found wealth, it shouldn’t be surprising that the ‘80s also saw a return of exclusive jewelry lavishly set with large, rare stones. Purchased in large part by the nouveau riche, the designs remained traditional. Chandelier and drop earrings, cluster brooches, and vintage-style pendants were fashionably set with Kashmir sapphires, Burmese Rubies, Colombian emeralds, and fancy colored diamonds—which always were accompanied by gem lab certifications.

ith the onset of the 1990s, the boom years had busted temporarily, ushering in a more restrained lifestyle. The power suits that so defined the earlier decade became more relaxed, and likewise jewelrydesigns were more restrained. Petite earrings became popular, with modesty of proportion emerging as a new driving aesthetic. By the mid ‘90s platinum once again recaptured from yellow gold its lost popularity. In turn, vintage styles again returned to fashion—with 18k white gold and platinum jewelry popularly set with an array of colored precious gemstones. As the decade closed on the new millennium, the classic, sophisticated styling of the past still held the public’s jewelry fascination—an indication that when facing an unknown future the memories of days-gone-by always are comforting.