1960s Jewelry: A Fashion Revolution

The 1960s were a tangle of relations between the political and social tensions of many nations including the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Australia, Japan, and many others. Revolutions were happening all over the globe and this was impacting the fashion world in ways that no one could have predicted.

Bright, popping colors and streamlined designs were a distinct part of the popular 1960s revolutionary designs. Bangles continued to be as popular in the 1960s as they were in the 1950s, however, the style did change a bit from flashy gem-encrusted bangles to bright plastic solid colors.

Plastics that imitated nature were also an emerging trend as the plastic trend that began to emerge in the late 1950s carried over to other aspects of jewelry design. This could be seen in broaches depicting floral displays that were made from opaque plastics rather than to their 1950s counterparts that were made from gems or other jewels. Brighter and bolder colors were also introduced into jewelry design during the 1960s with the uprising popularity of plastics as they were able to be easily made in a variety of colors and shapes. Another reason for the increasing use of plastics in jewelry was the increase in urban crime that was occurring during the 1960s. As people who went out on the town for a night did not want to attract unwanted attention from muggers and other criminal profilers, they would leave their flashy, gem encrusted pieces of jewelry at home and prefer to wear more subtle, but still enthusiastic, plastic designs.

Circular and oval shapes were often seen in the jewelry designs of the 1960s. Jacket pins or broaches, earrings, and pendants were all influenced by these shapes as circular stud earrings and oval shaped pendants gained popularity with consumers. Engagement rings were also mimicking this circular design with simple domed rings made of molded plastic or clear resin. While broaches were still worn during the 1960s they were in declining popularity with the younger generation who embraced earrings and necklaces over the broaches and bracelets of the 1950s.

Longer necklaces were also an emerging trend as the stylists that made chokers all the rage in the 1950s loosened their designs and elongated the chain on necklace designs. These longer necklaces were often accented with a single, medium sized pendant representing an animal or other nature-inspired piece. Gold chains were popular with this design and were often featured with pewter or gold colored pendants as a complementary element. This long chain could be worn with both evening or casual clothing, depending on the individual piece of jewelry, and was a versatile piece of any woman's wardrobe.

Colors that seem to define jewelry during the 1960s are golds and ambers, complemented by reds, oranges, and yellows. These color choices were seen in the metals, plastics, and gems used during this time. General unrest and revolution shaped people's outlook and could be seen in the jewelry they created. Pieces were made from modern materials and techniques, artists and creators were influenced by the current events and created items using bold colors and bright patterns to reflect the bright and courageous attitudes of the 1960s culture.

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