Facts about Estate Jewellery


What about wearing jewellery that was already owned by someone?

Estate jewellery refers to that type of jewellery that has been previously owned by someone else. Normally a relative or a close friend. Estate jewellery can sometimes be confused with Antique jewellery (made at least 100 years ago) or the Vintage type (that contains gems made between 1940 and 1980).

The Estate jewellery period includes only the most important moments/decades of time characterised by beautiful fashion ages when people were very concerned with their looks and appearances. Back then, society had a very strong weight on how you should behave and what you should wear depending on your social status. Nowadays, buying and wearing precious gems worn in those periods might bring back some historical memory and facts that we have only dreamed about for so long.

Jewellery can help us imagine and discover a world forgotten and locked up in books and Museums. As we were saying, Estate jewellery embraces the following periods of time:


Between 1714 and 1837, jewellery was very rare and only handmade with nature-inspired designs (leaves or birds). At that time, skull motifs and coffins were also in fashion after the Memento Mori jewellery movement arisen.


The early Victorian époque had many resemblances to the Georgian time, but then they came up with gold manufacturing. Lockets or brooches were very popular between 1837 and 1855. After 1880, many pieces of jewellery began to be very solemn and severe because of the death of Queen Victoria’s husband. The gems were mourning too through their heavy, dark stones such as jet, onyx, amethyst or garnet. Jewellers tried to use much brighter gemstones like sapphire, peridot or spinel till 1900. Stars and crescent designs came into light.


Between 1894 and 1923, jewellers were trying to rebel because of the Industrial Revolution. They were returning to handmade craftsmanship, simplicity and uncut stones.


The 1895-1915 period of time was characterised by natural design jewellery: flowers and butterflies became very popular. Romantic – this is the best word to describe that era. Art Nouveau influenced everything in the Western world even though it all started in Paris, but it died out by the end of the World War I. Yet, in the present, this movement is an inspirational source for important collectors that love the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany.


Between 1901-1915, jewellery was very expensive and it was made out of diamonds, emeralds and rubies with very sophisticated designs. We must point out that in this period Queen Victoria died and her son, Edward, became king.


1915 – 1935 period was a transition from all the Art Nouveau movement to a more elaborated type of design inspired by the art of the American-Indian, ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman architecture. This period’s jewellery distinguishes itself from all the others: it has geometric designs, various combinations of colours and abstract patterns. Cubism and Dadaism influenced all that happened in the Art Deco time. From 1945 till 1960 we had the Retro period that was very much inspired by Hollywood: colours and sophistication, large cocktail rings, bracelets, watches and necklaces were made back then. Everything was big and shiny. So, in order to go back in time we only need a great piece of jewellery worn by those who had lived a history as we will never remember it. Art Deco brooches were also big on the scene with sophisticated and geometric designs. Art deco brooch by Kalmar Antiques have some fine examples that you can even buy today.

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