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Jewelry during the war and postwar years: Beauty in the shadow of chaos

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war" - Otto von Bismarck.

Before russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, these words may not have been so meaningful to some of us. However, now each of us fully understands what this means for the country, the nation, and each person. 

The Second World War also brought with it a lot of pain, suffering and mourning. Millions of people were forced to save their lives and homes, and thus to accumulate all their strength and resources for this purpose. 

But people are created in such a way that even in spite of the circumstances, they continue to see the beauty and bring it to the world. So, today we want to pay attention to the changes in jewelry during the war and postwar years. 

Deficits and creativity during the war

During World War II, the resources of many countries were extremely limited. Opportunities and money were spent on the needs of the front. This also applied to precious metals such as gold and platinum, as well as some gemstones which were used in the manufacture of weapons, ammunition, etc.

The shortage of materials for creating jewelry designs was also worsened by the financial crisis and depressive moods among the population. Part of the people simply could not afford to buy items made of pure precious metals. Meanwhile, the other part was in the grip of despair and grief for those who joined the army or died.

In such a difficult situation, jewelers and jewelry companies were forced to reconsider their business models and find new solutions. And this is what they came up with:

  • Use of alternative metals. In many history museums, you will see that the basis for jewelry during the war years was copper, brass, and silver. Copper and brass were often used as an additive to more expensive metals. Also, there was copper and brass jewelry with gold plating.  The change of the main components of designs led to a significant drop in price. Therefore, more people could buy pieces of jewelry for themselves or as a gift.

  • The wave of popularity of miniature cameos and medallions. In the midst of the war, the most desirable types of jewelry were pieces that reminded people of their loved ones. These include cameos (a carved image on precious or semiprecious gems) and medallions with portraits. They were often given to soldiers as a souvenir or worn as a symbol of hope and memory about beloved person.

  • Color accents in the designs. To fight mass depression amid the war, jewelers began to use more colored gems and colored glass in their creations. Such designs brightened up the gray routine of their owners and were not too expensive.

  • Use of new symbols in ornaments. Since the war was a time when it was necessary to maintain the spirit of the population, jewelry designs included elements such as flags and emblems of countries, national and army symbols, and heart-shaped elements.

An interesting fact

One of the unique phenomena of wartime was "Trench Art". This is a specific kind of art that means the items created by soldiers on the front line. Usually, they made jewelry for their wives or comrades from any found materials. These could be parts of missiles as well as various shell casings. Nowadays, you can find a lot of of these samples in museums.

Jewelry and charity during the Second World War

During the war years, accessories also played a big role in supporting the army and the economy. 

People who were quite wealthy (or those who simply had some precious possessions) often donated them to charity. In the United Kingdom, for example, there were even special programs where organizers collected jewelry from the public. In this way, people helped to finance military needs, supported refugees and contributed to the reconstruction of damaged urban infrastructure.

Jewelry trends in the postwar period

After the end of military actions, the world gradually recovered from the horrors it had experienced. The same thing happened to the jewelry industry.

With the recovery of the economy, materials such as gold, platinum as well as precious gemstones returned to designs of accessories. However, the overall style of jewelry has gone through many transformations. Accent accessories were replaced by more restrained designs, characterized by bold lines and clear geometric shapes. They reflected the seriousness and understanding of what had happened.

Pearls also became popular in the postwar period. Jewelry with delicate and light beads became a new symbol of revival after the war. Pearl necklaces and earrings were especially in demand.

Despite all the circumstances around us, Orxata continues to bring beauty to this world in the form of unique transforming jewelry. Give yourself and your loved ones accessories that will definitely be appreciated!