Costume jewelry has been around for almost 300 years, as jewelers began experimenting with inexpensive types of glass as early as the 1800s. Through the decades, costume jewelry styles have evolved due to changing social and political trends, typically mirroring the larger trends of the fine jewelry world.
The Roaring Twenties were an era of dramatic political and social change that brought a new fascination with costume jewelry. During this decade, the nation’s wealth more than doubled and there was a greater emphasis on consumerism than ever before. These shifts impacted the ways that women of this time looked and behaved, and affected their fashion choices.
During the 1920s, women began wearing their hair bobbed, creating the perfect opportunity to show off statement earrings. Long, dangling necklaces that enhanced the wearer’s neck and moved while they danced were popular. Pearls also came into fashion during this time period.
Much of the costume jewelry created during the 1920s was made with the intention of resembling precious jewels as closely as possible, which led to the use of materials like white metals, richly-colored stones, and faux pearls. The Art Deco movement also influenced the design of costume jewelry during this time, leading to pieces with strong color contrasts, geometric shapes, stylized motifs, and clean lines. Towards the end of the decade Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli popularized costume jewelry by creating in-demand pieces, elevating imitation accessories for decades to come.