Trending Now: Jeweled Flowers

Art Nouveau diamond, enamel and gold orchid brooch, courtesy Ernst Faerber (@ernstfaerber).

It was fashion’s biggest night, the Met Gala, which happens annually on the first Monday in May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The Met Gala, which celebrates fashion and is a fundraiser for the Museum’s Costume Institute is also one of fashion’s most fun events. Each year the gala has a theme, this year it was Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion. The dress code was “Garden of Time”. It was a theme that was left open to interpretation and the creativity of designers and celebrity attendees to come up with some innovative couture.

Diamond, yellow sapphire, ruby, platinum and gold brooch by Oscar Heyman, circa 1941, courtesy Jardin Jewels (@jardinjewels).

Part of what makes the Met Gala arrivals so much fun to watch is that the interpretation of the theme makes for a costume like parade of over-the-top evening wear. Some attendees literally went through the archives of some of the major design houses and resurrected or reinterpreted vintage looks for the occasion. Other attendees took the Garden of Time dress code to heart and looked to the natural world of florals, woods, butterflies and sand to inform their style choices. But one thing that did come up over and over was apparel and jewelry with a floral theme.

Flower jewelry is nothing new, it’s been around forever, but perennially popular jeweled blooms got a boost from the event as a number of celebs donned jewels with a floral motif for the event. While flower jewelry is having a moment in the spotlight, it’s always in style and always on trend. You can buy a floral themed jewel today and be confident that it will still be stylish a decade or more from now. Since flowers have been perennially popular through time, vintage jewelry offers plenty of floral options to brighten your outfit. 

Victorian Era Florals

Victorian Diamond, ruby, yellow gold and silver rose brooch, courtesy Ernst Faerber (@ernstfaerber).

During the Victorian era (1837-1901) nature was an important part of life. The industrial revolution was going full steam ahead and people turned to the natural world as an antidote to the mechanization that was taking over the world. Gardening was also a popular hobby for Victorians, who enjoyed growing exotic flowers and creating elaborate gardens. The Victorians also were adept at communicating messages through symbols and each type of flower had a different meaning, which could change according to the color of the flower. For example a red rose is love, but a yellow rose is friendship. Flower jewelry was often quite elaborate in the Victorian era, with large brooches, that had a moving element, known as en tremblant.

Art Nouveau Florals

Art Nouveau enamel, natural pearl and gold floral motif pendant, courtesy Hartley Brown (@hartley.brown).

Nature, in the form of vines, exotic florals and leaves were an important theme in Art Nouveau jewelry. Dragonflies, butterflies and other insects often with splendid plique-à-jour enamel wings were also prevalent. These naturalistic themes were another backlash to the industrial age as people moved from rural areas to cities to find work. The jewelry was a reminder of nature’s beauty and a message to stay connected to its nurturing presence. In addition, Art Nouveau was handmade another revolt against machination and mass production.

Art Deco Florals

Art Deco diamond, ruby and jade flower vase brooch, courtesy J.& S. S. De Young (@laurendeyoungjewelry).

Art Deco jewelry was known for its modernity, extreme geometry and attention to detail. Floral jewelry was a little different from the rest of the jewelry design coming out of the Art Deco era, which was linear and symmetrical. During the 1920s and 1930s, flower arrangements were an important part of home décor and they were often in highly stylized vases. Many Art Deco floral jewels are depicted in vases that are overflowing with flowers. Fruit, which symbolized abundance was also used in these creations. Flowers in Art Deco jewelry are a symbol of optimism, while at the same time suggesting elegance, glamour and the sophistication of this era.

Retro Florals

Retro unheated sapphire, diamond and 14-karat gold bracelet and brooch with pendant loops, courtesy Kathryn Bonanno.

The 1940s were marred by World War II and as people grappled with wartime shortages and rationing, jewelry changed with the times. Precious metals, which were needed for the war effort and gemstones, which faced import/export restrictions, were hard to come by in the first half of the decade. Gold was alloyed with copper to make it go further giving it a rosy color. Often large in scale, flowers were a favored design motif as they were cheerful and hopeful, much needed sentiments at the time.  

Flower jewelry has been popular through the decades, reminding us of our connection to nature, while sparkling with timeless elegance and glamour.

Top of page: Art Nouveau diamond, enamel and gold orchid brooch, courtesy Ernst Faerber (@ernstfaerber).

Authored by Amber Michelle