At Hollis & Company, we love discovering treasures.

We select our jewelry for beauty, style, and quality. The word “Antique” refers to jewelry that is at least 100 years old. “Vintage” typically refers to jewelry that is at least 20 years old. Estate jewelry is any piece that has been previously owned. There are distinct periods for antique and estate jewelry.

 

 


 

GEORGIAN & VICTORIAN PERIODS (1837-1900)


The 18
th and 19th centuries include the Georgian period (1715-1830) and the Victorian period (1830-1901), both named after ruling British monarchy. The early years of the Victorian era were described as romantic or sentimental and reflected the youth, courtship and marriage of the young queen, Victoria. Britain was in a state of industrial euphoria, obsessed by mechanical gadgets.The world of nature, inspired from styles of the Renaissance and Middle Ages, was still a very popular motif in Victorian Jewelry. Bouquets of flowers, branches, leaves, grapes and berries remained fashionable. There was a symbolism associated with flowers that carried through the first half of the century. Snake and serpent motifs reached their peak in the 1840's. The snake used as a decorative motif symbolizes wisdom and eternity. Victorian jewels were often set with gems that were attributed with magical properties and special meanings. Seed-pearls denoted tears, and pink coral could protect one from evil and disease. Love tokens and souvenirs from travel or events were cherished.Queen Victoria passed away on January 22, 1901. Although there were dramatic changes in the world, socially and industrially, her legacy lives on through the numerous examples of Victorian jewelry created during her 64 year reign.  To see our collection of antique and estate jewelry pieces, view the Hollis Antiques page.                    

 


Edwardian (1901-1915)

 

The Edwardian period began in 1901 and reflected the elegance of the time period. Diamonds and pearls were the favored gemstones of this period, and platinum became popular as advances in metal working were made. The last decade of the nineteenth century, the fin de siècle, was a time when the rejection of the machine-made jewelry that had once been welcomed as an innovation, caused an about face in fashion and design. Jewelry went from large and ostentatious to ethereal and delicate almost overnight. Employing what was to become known as the “garland” style or style guirlande, jewelers who chose not to embrace Art Nouveau or the Arts and Crafts movement borrowed the fluidity of their lines and incorporated them into more traditional motifs thereby creating Edwardian jewelry. The “new” designs of the Edwardian Era had their roots firmly planted in eighteenth-century jewelry. The Court of Versailles was inspiration for the customers who desired aristocratically styled jewels. Ornamental motifs from earlier centuries were available through pictorial records and eighteenth century pattern books circulated freely beginning c.1850. In particular, Cartier encouraged his designers to wander the streets of Paris looking at seventeenth and eighteenth century architecture for inspiration.Garlands and ribbons, laurel wreaths, bow knots, tassels and lace were rendered with a new lightness thanks to the advances made in platinum fabrication.The strength of platinum was fully exploited and it became possible to create jewels that resembled "petit point" embroidery and fine, delicate, sophisticated jewels resembling diamondencrusted lace. This strength and rigidity allowed the jeweler to mount stones in minimalist settings. Millegraining, a new decorative technique made possible by the use of platinum, is featured often on Edwardian jewelry. Its border of delicate balls and ridges surrounding a gemstone or on the knife sharp edges of a design served to give jewelry a softer, lighter look.  To see our collection of antique and estate jewelry pieces, view the Hollis Antiques page.        
 

 

 

ART NOUVEAU (1895-1915)


The Art Nouveau movement in jewelry took hold in the late 19
thcentury through the early 20th century. The style was colorful, modern, and sensuous. In the latter half of the nineteenth century there were many forces at work in the world of decorative arts that would propel artisans out of the hum drum and into the incredible. A marshaling force for inspiration in the arts was the reopening of the trade routes with the East in 1858. The Japanese were invited to participate in the 1862 International Exhibition in London and the Japanese prints and wood cuts, with their simple yet elegant interpretation of nature, had a profound influence on those looking for a new aesthetic. Japonisme, as it came to be called, provided the antidote to the fussiness of Victorian era design that the new craft movement was searching for. Jewelers soaked up the Japanese bond between nature and design, its simplicity of form, the intense use of color and the concept of mixed metals, giving birth to an entirely new decorative style. A predominant theme emerged in Art Nouveau design; the free-flowing line. Sometimes referred to as the “whiplash” line, it was used to suggest movement and was an interpretation of the shapes and lines found in plants, a woman’s hair, feminine curves; essentially everything that moved, waved and undulated in nature. The way in which this line was employed came to define the characteristics of Art Nouveau as it manifested itself in various countries. In England it appeared as a Celtic revival flowing through squares, triangles and knots. The French had a figurative approach, using “the line” to define a woman’s hair or the movement in a plant. Other cultures used it to create free flowing abstract designs. Various themes and motifs were recurrent in Art Nouveau jewelry. Insects as fantasy creatures, especially dragonflies and butterflies, were interpreted in a myriad of ways and mediums. To see our collection of antique and estate jewelry pieces, view the Hollis Antiques page.      
 

 

Art Deco (1915-1935)

 


The Art Deco period covers the early 1920’s through 1930 and began the use of geometric forms and bold colors. Diamonds were accompanied by rubies, sapphires and emeralds, reflecting the flamboyant and playful attitudes of the era. The era we now know as “Art Deco” received its moniker from the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, which was largely dedicated to the jewelry arts. Emphasis was placed on the association of art and modern industry. Inspiration for this style was as far reaching as Oriental, African and South American Art and as varied as Cubism and Fauvism, both popular movements at the time. The term “Cubism” was often used to describe jewelry of this era because of the angles, geometric lines and figurative representations used in its execution. A desire to eliminate the flowing lines of Art Nouveau and distill designs to their rudimentary geometric essence, thus eliminating seemingly unnecessary ornament, resulted in the cleaner and more rigid lines employed in Art Deco jewelry. A look forward toward modernism and the machine age also featured prominently at this juncture in jewelry history.

The era we now know as “Art Deco” received its moniker from the Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, which was largely dedicated to the jewelry arts. Emphasis was placed on the association of art and modern industry. Inspiration for this style was as far reaching as Oriental, African and South American Art and as varied as Cubism and Fauvism, both popular movements at the time. The term “Cubism” was often used to describe jewelry of this era because of the angles, geometric lines and figurative representations used in its execution. A desire to eliminate the flowing lines of Art Nouveau and distill designs to their rudimentary geometric essence, thus eliminating seemingly unnecessary ornament, resulted in the cleaner and more rigid lines employed in Art Deco jewelry. A look forward toward modernism and the machine age also featured prominently at this juncture in jewelry history. To see our collection of antique and estate jewelry pieces, view the Hollis Antiques page.      

 
 
 

 

 


 

RETRO (1945-1960)

The Retro period in jewelry, dating from 1935-1950, was highly influenced by the Great Depression and world war. Retro jewelry was big and bold, to fill a fashion void as women went to work and clothing was simplified. Gold made a comeback when platinum was saved for the war effort. 

Although the term "Retro" wasn't coined until the 1970s, the jewelry of the late 1930s and 1940s was definitely different from its antecedents. The end of the Art Deco geometric aesthetic came at the International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Modern Life - 1937, Paris. Assistant Commissioner General Paul Léon believed that the Exhibition should revive the jewelry arts and return jewelers to the use of ornamentation with grace and variety. A newly spawned uniqueness was noticed in the jewelers in 1937 as opposed to the similarity of their work at the 1925 Exhibition. Attention was drawn to the vast innovations in the jeweler’s art that allowed for extreme masterpieces of engineering and a superb lightness in the mountings. Van Cleef & Arpels invisible setting, perfected c.1935, was a main attraction, showing off the myriad of shapes required to completely fill all the spaces in a piece. The lattice that holds the stones, viewable only from the reverse, has to be meticulously made and each stone must be precisely cut to fit in its place. Convertible jewelry was another hallmark of the Retro period. Necklaces converted into bracelets or into a bracelet with matching earringsChaumet was famous for an epaulette that could be worn as abandeau or separated into numerous clips. The ever versatile clip brooch was still very much in vogue. Worn singly or in pairs, these clips were often designed to attach to a bracelet, necklace, hairclip or other device. This versatility insured their popularity well into the 1950s. To see our collection of antique and estate jewelry pieces, view the Hollis Antiques page.