in 1950, the actual sales of jewellery indicated that three items accounted for 85 per cent of the jewellery business: silverware, watches, and rings. The ring is one of the oldest ornaments. In modern times it is the favourite article worn by men, women, and children.
Kinds of rings. It is interesting to observe the kinds of rings according to form. The most important, the wedding ring, is of metal unadorned, or chased, or set with tiny stones such as baguette diamonds. The double ring ceremony in which the groom accepts a wedding ring has become increasingly popular since the beginning of World War II. The engagement ring is generally a solitaire diamond of brilliant or emerald cut. A friendship ring, such as a fraternity or class ring exchanged between school friends, is simple in design. Fraternity, class, and lodge rings bear the insignia of the respective organizations, and in certain localities the wearing of a fraternity ring or pin is a symbol of engagement. A signet ring is a finger ring engraved or set with a stone, monogram, or other symbols. Before sealed envelopes were invented, the signet ring was used to impress the identification of the wearer on a wax seal. The gimmal ring, a class of rings made from the fifteenth century, in which two rings with clasped hands are joined, was originally an engagement ring, both parts being worn by the wife. A watch ring is one set with a small watch mounted in the head of the ring.
Parts of a ring. A ring consists of the shank, the section that fits around the finger, the head which holds the stone, and the shoulder, that section between the head and shank.
Fashion and Jewellery
As with other merchandise, a change in fashion brings a change in jewellery design. This is especially noticeable when we consider the necklines and sleeve length of popular day and evening dresses. For instance, when necklines are low, necklaces are worn. When sleeves are worn without cuffs and become short, bracelets become popular. Short hair calls for earrings. When the character of the gown is lavish, important earring styles evolve, such as the chandelier earrings popular in 1950. Most costume jewellery pieces are inspired by real or fine jewellery from museums or private collections. Following the exhibition of the Italian Renaissance collection of art in 1933, a great demand for heavy, ornate jewellery developed. Necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings were borrowed from the artists’ pictures.
This relation of jewellery to fashion is well illustrated by the jewellery shown by manufacturers at important fashion shows. For instance, in a show at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in 1948, “Diamonds U. S. A.” diamond necklaces in semi choker fringed collarets and festoons with pendants were featured. Marquise diamonds were shown with high-waisted square-necked velvet Empire gowns. Barrettes and hair clips were shown for wear with the shorter coiffure.
The Wearing of Jewellery
The wearing of semiprecious jewellery became popular just after the French Revolution. The members of the nobility had lost their jewels, and conditions were not favourable for the wearing of expensive ornaments. At that time, all kinds of fantastic, imaginative pieces were in demand: combs, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and clips.
The wearing of jewellery is no longer considered the privilege of the well-to-do, as the interesting and varied designs in costume jewellery are made to fit all incomes. It does, however, depend to a large extent on the current fashion in ready-to-wear as to fabric and silhouette. When the necklines of dresses are elaborate and decorated with lace, embroidery, collars, beads, or other ornaments, jewellery worn at the neck is unnecessary. When dresses having plain necklines are in fashion, jewellery for the throat and neck usually increases in popularity.
Selection and Coordination of Jewellery
Properly selected jewellery can change the appearance of the wearer. Small earrings make the face appear shorter, while long, pendant earbobs make it look larger. A choker of large beads corrects a too-long neck, while a lavaliere seems to reduce a neck that is too fully developed.
As all accessories are incidental and must be worn with specific costumes, it is essential that the relation of each accessory to the major fashion trend be clearly indicated. The most alert retail departments of stores indicate by croquis or display how each particular article should be worn.
How Jewellery Fashions Start
Designs for costume jewellery come from three sources: from the great jewellers whose designs, first shown in precious stones, are adapted in less costly stones; from the clothing designers who include an accessory in the original design of the garment; or from end collections of genuine jewellery.