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Spring Style Guide - Vintage, Retro & Art Deco Jewellery

13 March 20

Throughout this article we discover the world of vintage, retro and Art Deco jewellery, exploring different styles and techniques to create these looks within modern collections.

Today, all things vintage, retro and Art Deco have a certain allure, with each piece, whether it be clothing, furniture or jewellery holding its own story or memories. The recent popularity of such trends, or designs, can often be put down to our desire to be different, our love of previous eras and styles or perhaps seeking items that are individual or unique. If you are exploring vintage, retro or Art Deco jewellery you may be searching for a piece with character and history or, more often, something inspired by these trends. Here, we explore these styles, guiding you through the settings, the stones cuts or types of coloured gemstones that are particularly known for their vintage appearance. 

Retro Inspired Jewellery

The term ‘retro’ is defined as imitative of a style or fashion from the recent past, a trend that is now so common within interior design, fashion and jewellery. This particular trend invites you to uncover your treasured family heirlooms, pieces worn by your mum or your auntie, perhaps even your nan or grandma and explore the possibilities of retro inspired designs. 

The panache of retro style jewellery was expressed through eye-catching bracelets, dress or cocktail rings and necklaces, each often oversized and including extraordinary patterns and shapes incorporated into their designs. 

Retro patterns can be explored throughout different centuries depending on what resonates with you as a retro time period. Here, we have explored several patterns that regularly appear in retro designs, in both the jewellery and fashion world alike. One such pattern that proved popular was bright, bold colours intertwined in swirls and geometric shapes. This impression sits closely with designs associated with flower power, although this design featured heavily in clothing of the 60’s and 70’s it can be interpreted into a multitude of jewellery designs. Whether you prefer more subtle colours, or you take inspiration from the common retro theme of bolds and brights, each of our showrooms would be delighted to advise you on the design of your retro inspired piece, using gemstones hand-chosen by our specialists. 

Here, we have selected just a few key jewellery pieces that truly embody this retro style, the first proving just how popular these period designs are. A retro BVLGARI cocktail ring set with an encapsulating cushion-cut sapphire, weighing approximately 27.42 carats, shown here. This piece was sold by Christie’s for 112,500 USD. The tranquil aura this stone radiates, lends itself to so many design variations as although incredibly large, its ocean like hues add subtlety to its styling, illustrating just how versatile retro really is.  

Secondly, found here, a 24.70-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring, which sold for 11,000,000 USD, at Sotheby's Hong Kong in April of 2018. This elegant ruby is the statement of the piece, adorned by a variety of pear cut diamonds varying in depth, very much resembling the striking geometric patterns discussed earlier in this article. 

Of course, these retro pieces do not in fact have to be pieces from these past eras but instead simply inspired by them. As a family run business since 1869, we understand the sentiment your heirlooms hold. With this in mind, our jewellery specialists are able to advice and guide you to create personal commissions, reworking your existing jewellery, using hand drawn sketches and the latest in Computer Aided Design technology to bring your ideas and memories to life. 

Vintage Inspired Designs

A vintage piece of jewellery is defined as a piece, or style, from between fifty and one hundred years ago. Herefor example, in Vogue’s guide to buying vintage jewellery, the writer explores the risks that are often associated with buying aged, or vintage, materials and how to best select them.

Of course, like with retro or Art Deco pieces, many jewellers create vintage inspired designs with new materials, using either your own diamonds or gemstones, or gemstones hand-selected for your chosen piece of jewellery. If you are looking to create a vintage inspired piece there is a selection of setting styles, coloured gemstones and stone cuts, or shapes, you may wish to consider. 

Milgrain Style

One example of a vintage style is a milgrain setting, often described as a tiny row of beads that act as a border or edging on a ring. This setting was most noted during the Edwardian era to add intricacy to simple understated pieces. Here, you will find a classic court wedding ring, set with 18ct yellow gold and featuring an ornate milgrain edge. This is a perfect example of how this delicate craft can be used to create beautiful vintage inspired designs. 

Cluster Style

Another style we suggest for a vintage inspired design is a cluster style. This arrangement, particularly on necklaces or bracelets, forms a repeating pattern incorporating an array of statement gemstones, often in varying in cuts. These are complimented by a surround of either diamonds or stones contrasting in colour. Here, in our bracelet collection, you will find a sapphire and diamond cluster style line bracelet. A bold yet classic statement. 

Emerald Cut Diamond

The emerald cut diamond has a rich and vibrant history that dates back thousands of years. As the name suggests this cut was originally developed for the shaping of emeralds, however it proved even more charismatic on diamonds and as a result gained the popularity it has today. This elegant cut’s distinctive shape plays with light and creates a hall of mirrors effect, whilst Its long facets showcase dramatic flashes of light, highlighting the pristine clarity of the diamond or gemstone. 

Art Deco Inspirations

Art Deco style is often characterised by its sharp and distinct lines with contrasting sumptuous curves. This trend, often inspired by the era of Great Gatsby and the roaring 20’s, is all about different shapes and geometric patterns. The style, which originally emerged in 1925, was a result of designs displayed at the World’s Fair held in Paris, France. The term ‘Art Deco’ specifically coined from a shortened form of the events name, The International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, and influenced fashion and trends through to the late 1930’s.   

Throughout this era, often, jewellery made was most commonly fashioned or set in either white gold or platinum, its inspiration borrowed heavily from architecture. Here, we see bold straight lines, squares, triangles, pyramids and arcs combined to create intricate and striking designs. Much like the exquisite Water Lane Suite designed by our in-house jewellery designer, Katrina Young. This suite features clean lines framing a collection of elegant hand-selected blush pink cushion cut morganites totalling 12.16cts. Shown here, in our bespoke design collection, this magnificent suite pays homage to our Wilmslow showroom, resembling the architectural characteristics that form the focal point of its design. 

If you would like further information, or advice, on vintage, Art Deco and retro inspired jewellery, explore further articles here, or contact our dedicated showrooms here.

Our Showrooms

Over the years, generations of families have become customers of Prestons, and many have gone on to become friends. Today, our teams look forward to welcoming you to our showrooms in Wilmslow, Guildford, Norwich and Leeds.

Prestons Guildford


Our Guildford showroom, which is now located on the opposite side of the high street, is designed to reflect the architectural merit of the Edwardian building it now occupies. The store features newly extended spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases, alongside a comfortable lounge to allow our clients to explore our bridal and fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Wilmslow


Located in the heart of Wilmslow, this showroom features a selection of spaces dedicated to the fine watch houses it showcases. Of course, the bridal collections Prestons have always been famous for remain a prominent feature of the store and surround the famous Aquarium Bar which sits at its centre. Explore This Showroom

Rolex by Prestons, Leeds


This showroom, located in Victoria Gate, features extensive Rolex showcases alongside a discrete VIP lounge. Every element of the interior design radiates the values of the Rolex crown: excellence, precision and attention to detail from louvre walls in walnut, to the careful calibration of colours and patterns within the fittings and furnishings. Explore This Showroom

Prestons Norwich


Located on the historic Norwich high street, Prestons Norwich has been expanded and redesigned to reflect the character of the building it has occupied for over 150 years. The showroom features collections by Patek Philippe, Rolex and TUDOR alongside our fine jewellery collections. Explore This Showroom
Guildford showroom