The 1950s jumped and jived their way into our hearts with rock ‘n’ roll, the birth of the “Beat” Generation, the launch of Sputnik, the beginnings of the space race and the knowledge that we were all living in a nuclear world. Dubbed the “Atomic Age,” the art world seized its symbols and created an aesthetic that found it’s way into nearly every aspect of design from architecture to zippers, fabrics to formica, including the diverse subject matter of 50s jewelry.
In 1947, Christian Dior introduced a new look in fashion that brought femininity back, rejecting the somber wartime silhouette. A fitted bodice and décolleté neckline atop a full skirt flowing out from a tight-fitted waistline called for a newly revised design aesthetic for the fashion’s complimentary jewels and accessories. When it came to jewelry the phrase “the more the merrier” seemed apropos.
To punctuate this elegant display of elan, diamonds set in platinum swept across the feminine décolletage and swirled on lobes newly revealed by upswept hair which was held in place by diamond clips. DeBeers Diamond Corporation ensured that the demand for diamonds would not wane with their ‘A Diamond is Forever’ campaign. By an ingenious focus on using a multitude of smaller diamonds instead of a large focal gem they were able to promote diamonds to every income level, especially the rapidly growing middle class. They cleverly awarded prizes to jewelers worldwide who encompassed beauty, design, function and most of all, diamonds, in their modern compositions.