What Jewelry Was Popular During The Silent Movie Era?

A powerful storyline, choice of characters, direction style, or a clever plot are primary factors that create a timeless movie. But, tiny details are something that the public oversees the most. The location of a shoot, backdrops, timings, and wardrobe add value to the famous scenes. Moreover, if a character fails to carry the chosen attire, the final product might change. 

Fans of silent movies are more aware of the details and take a fair amount of time while planning a ‘movie night’. Minute details of a movie are important because when there was no audio in the silent film era, these little things were attractive. The silent film era years were between the early 1910s to late 1920s. 

What Really are Silent Movies?

A silent film is a film where there is no recording of spoken dialogue. Silent film technology was created around 1860 and existed for about 50 – 60 years. Since there were no technological advancements, it was hard to make a film with recorded sound. “Age of the Silver Screen” is another name for silent films.

“The Great Train Robbery” was the first silent film released in 1903 by Thomas Edison. The silent film era years were one of the most significant years in film-making history. These years brought substantial business to the film industry. The Silent era also took art to a new level.

Jewelry is one more significant side when discussing a movie’s success. There must have been several cases where inappropriate clothing did not catch attention because of the right choice about jewelry. 

Some famous necklaces in movies and TV are Titanic – Heart of the Ocean, How to lose a guy in 10 days – Isadora Necklace, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Diamond and Pearl Necklace, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – The Maharaja of Baroda Pendant, etc. 

Jewelry and Hollywood


The Hollywood Jewels is a good read about the jewelry worn by the movie stars during the silent era. In the earlier movies, many of the actresses used their jewelry in the films. The book did justice by incorporating illustrations of the various movies and the extraordinary photographs by David Behl. 

The Hollywood Jewels portrayed Gargantuan Ruby and diamond disc bracelet of Marlene Dietrich’s from the movie “Stage Fright,” the Krupp diamond of 33.19 carats belonging to Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson’s rock and crystal diamond bangles that she wore in “Sunset Boulevard.” 

With some of these classic jewels came pretty appealing designs. The oversized gold-lettered “Kostelanetz” of Lily Pons and the gem of Paulette Goddard showed the poor taste of these celebrities.

Ancient Jewelry and the Films:

Jewelry plays a vital role in developing and defining a character. The remarkable pieces often make it from screen to street and set up the new trends. From outfit to costume jewelry, every segment of the fashion industry has struggled a lot. Over time, the industry had to bid farewell to the luxuries and made necessities a priority.

Sneak Peek at the History of Ancient Jewelry:


An ancient jewelry history is fascinating. From 6800 to 3300 BCE, seashells, clay, stones, and bones were the primary jewelry-making resources. Metallic jewelry was scarce, but silver and gold ornaments were present around Macedonia and Thessaly. Jewelry decoration included semi-precious stones by the time of the Bronze Age. 

There are witnesses of complicated designs displaying the battle or hunting scenes over gold plates found in ancient jewelry history. Later in Egypt, the jewels involved beetles or insects in their making to associate them with the concept of life and rebirth. That is why mummies were adorned with these jewels to enter life after death with prestige. 

Gems from Egypt were very colorful, and they were glaze-enameled. Jewelry was of bright blue shades, apple-green colors followed by violet, yellow, red, and white hues. The ornaments often included shrouding leaves of stone, silver, and bronze in gold pieces. Usekh collar along with chained-lockets were the most significant jewelry designs found in Egyptian tombs and paintings.

Greece and Italy took inspiration from the Egyptian jewels and improvised their basic designs. By the 5th Century, Greeks had an abundance of gold. Their famous jewelry shapes were crescents mostly. The Roman Empire then showed an immense passion for pearls and stones and is renowned for its exclusive ring designs. 

Besides jewelry, there were also other similarities when it comes to the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt. For more information, head over to The Similarities and Differences Between Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt.

Popular Jewelry During the Silent Film Era:


The artistic taste was reborn during the late 19th Century. Gemstones became the source of beauty in jewelry rather than being the symbol of wealth only. Diamonds are reserved to be worn for evening events in the hair and excluded from the daytime accessory. The motifs from the Aesthetic Movement had flowers, peacocks, and insects as standard designs. 

Art Nouveau Era:

Art Nouveau was the new trend in 1890 that lived for 20 years only. It is famous for its unique jewelry styles based on nature, mostly with birds, female figures, and flowers. Jewelry designs bore elegant lines and soft curves. Diamonds were least common during the Art Nouveau movement because aquamarine, garnet, and agate took their place. New techniques using molded glass, enameling, and ivory were incorporated. 

Belle Epoque Period:

Belle Epoque Period was a new addition after Art Nouveau when diamonds again gained popularity along with platinum. This period is famous as the Edwardian era of jewelry. Jewelry styles covered more extensive areas with diamonds and placed other colored gems in more minor ways. Cartier gained a reputation internationally because of fine craftsmanship during the Belle Epoque period. 

Edwardian Era:

King Edward and Queen Alexandra supremacy inspired the name Edwardian period. Edwardian jewelry (1901 – 1915) was delicate and light. It mainly showcased diamonds. Platinum was used as a core metal to hold these precious stones. The designs incorporated colorful jewels like rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, but diamonds were the center of attention. The festooning ribbons, bows, and flowers were the most prominent motifs. 

The Art Deco Times:

The Art Deco era was a famous and the most important 1920s jewelry trend. Fauvism’s solid colors and Cubism’s geometric arrangements became the primary inspiration for this era. It was a beautiful blend of luxury, glamour, and hi-tech advancements. Long and dangling earrings were quite a trend by early 1920—these dangling strands made out of pearls or beads generally.

Also, lengthy necklaces draped around the wrists like bracelets added to the razzle-dazzle of the outfit. Shoulders and belts used to have brooches as a mandatory thing. The Art Deco era began in 1915 and ended in 1935. 

In the early 1900s, the Fashion industry was going through a rough patch in wardrobe and styling because of high jewelry costs. By 1930, auspiciously for jewelers, the plastic imitations became the ray of hope. The price cut down immensely as plastic replaced the original gems and valuable metals. 

This decade introduced another style named “Novelty Jewelry,” where plastics made from Galalith, Celluloid, Bakelite, etc. incorporated in the jewelry. Hatpins and hair combs were composed of Celluloid mainly. The 30s also brought a fresh air for jewelry style as it converted simple lines from the 1920s to glitz and flamboyance. 

Final Word

The silent era between the early 1910s to late 1920s was a momentous era regarding jewelry styles, commonly known as the “Art Deco Era.” It was challenging for stage and film fashion because of old filming techniques and high jewelry expenses. However, the 1920s jewelry trends produced the most delicate jewelry designs and added value to TV and films.