By Galerie Jessica De Rye - Antiquaries De Louvre

It is not possible to understand jewelry of the 60’s and 70’s without keeping in mind the political and social background of that period. Indeed, without the flow of social overthrows and liberalization of morals which overwhelmed the whole Western world since the beginning of the 60’s (first, the « Beat Generation », then the Hippie, Love and Peace, Flower Power and likewise trends, Mai 1968 in France…), the small revolution that shook the world of jewelry never could have happened.

Thus, in its spirit, jewelry of the 60’s and 70’s created a breaking off from the production of the previous decades by recommending the removal of the sacred aura surrounding and democratization of jewels, which were no longer considered as adornments reserved for evenings and exceptional events, but as objects of current consumption to be worn any day, in any occasion and –above all- by any woman. That crazy period in which anything had to be dared was then favorable for testing new materials, which also offered the advantage of being far less expensive than gold or diamond! Semi-precious stones, enamel, wood, silver or any type of metal, new synthetic and plastic materials: everything was deemed fit to adorn the necks, ears or arms of women (...and of men too: during the 60’s and the 70’s appeared indeed unisex or male jewelry), just like French fashion designer Paco Rabanne used them in order to create a new type of clothes.

Regarding the shape of jewels, however, the breaking off with the past was not so complete because the designers of the 60’s and 70’s clearly looked for inspiration in the researches about abstraction led by avant-gardist artists since the 1930’s. Europeans (Scandinavians such as Vivianna Torun especially worked following such a way) or Americans, they recognized as their masters the inspired generation of American jewelry designers of the 50’s (like Irena Brynner, Harry Bertoia, Margaret De Patta) in order to create jewels with extremely elaborated shapes and volumes.

A few important French names: Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, Jacques Gautier, Alain Duclos, Jacques Esterel, Henri Gargat...

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