Antique & Vintage Earrings
We absolutely adore earrings at Kit Clayton, and especially vintage and antique pieces. Antique earrings (those 100 years +) are especially hard come by, either being lost or damaged over the years, or reworked into something different. Vintage earrings (under 20-99 years old) survive more plentifully, but may be found with screw backs or clips. These fittings, of course, are not so desired nowadays, and the trend is firmly back to pierced ears. We source and sell earrings in 9ct, 14ct and 18ct gold, and 925 sterling silver too. We collect and sell vintage stud earrings, drop and dangle earrings, and hoop and creole earrings too. Our vintage earrings tend to sell quite quickly, but we replenish as often as we find them. All of our vintage earrings come with free delivery, and if you're UK based, returns are free too if you decide the earrings are not for you.
At the beginning of the 19th century, earrings were a jewellery box staple for the moneyed classes. They were usually worn very long, and complemented bare shoulders and the hair being piled on top of the head. Georgian drop and dangle earrings were made with multiple geometrical elements, and for special occasions the pear drop was very much the fashionable gemstone cut. Earrings were made from both gold and silver, and set with diamonds and other precious stones or paste.
By the 1840s, fashion shifted to hair styles which covered the ears, and so earrings tended to be worn less. They gradually regained popularity again in the 1850s, when hair was brushed away from the ears once more. Decorative creole earrings were typical of this time, often fashioned in gold. If pendant earrings were worn, coral was a popular gemstone choice. By the 1870s, earrings had grown enormously in size, and were frequently worn resting on the shoulders in England! Archaeological revival inspired an endless number of designs in this period, until novelty earrings gained popularity as the decade wore on - insects, flowers, fish and everyday objects flourished, cast in simple gold or sterling silver.
By the 1880s, earring size had shrunk back to more modest proportions, and single pearls embellished with diamonds became popular for day wear, while at night, simple diamond earrings (or paste) were the preference. Pendant earrings were most popular during the 1890s, and it was around this time that the screw fitting was invented, enabling women without piercings to enjoy earrings.
By the early 20th century, garland style pendant earrings had become popular, complementing the delicate dresses popular at the time. A particularly prevalent earring design of this era involved tiny diamond leaves (garland) surrounding a central, articulated coloured stone, which would swing in the centre.
Art Deco Earrings
Much like the trend in every other area of jewellery, by the 1920s, geometric designs and bold colours ruled supreme. Pendant earrings were incredibly stylish and varied in length to suit the short, bobbed hairstyles of the time. Simple torpedo earrings carved from hardstones became popular for day wear while elaborate diamond studded tassel, fringe, grandiole and chandelier earrings were worn in the evenings. Chinese jade rings were hung from intricate diamond, enamel or onyx drops. Pendant earrings often formed part of a larger corsage of ornaments such as a brooch or necklace, and it was in the 1920s that ear clips became popular.
Retro & Vintage Earrings
Ear clips remained popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and commonly worn motifs included fan shapes, knots, ribbons, bows, shells and flowers. Gold was the preferred materials for day earrings, while evening earrings tended to be particularly sumptuous in design and set with precious gemstones. By the 1960s, the trend for earrings worn at any time of day was towards large and highly decorative, and contrasting textures, colours and materials were used to great effect. Exotic shells were used as ear ornaments by some high end designers and the popularity of ear clips remained during this decade.
Why buy vintage earrings?
Like all others types of jewellery, vintage earrings come with a little bit of magic that brand new items lack. Modern jewellery tends to be produced en-mass, and the new earrings we buy are likely worn by women the world over. If, like us, you love unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, that bring with them a little bit of sparkle from days gone by, then vintage or antique earrings are the natural choice. Vintage earrings come with an aged look that cannot be reproduced in modern pieces no matter how hard we jewellers try! And of course, they have that secret history that we can only guess at - one of glamorous outfits and fabulous parties by candlelight. A small, but beautiful connection to the human past.