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Echoes of the Past

With the growing popularity of contemporary design — minimalist, quirky, avant-garde — you might assume the more traditional styles are falling to the wayside.  But we wouldn’t dismiss them so easily.  At Fred Leighton, a company that deals exclusively with vintage and estate jewelry, they believe great design is timeless, with a relevance that will endure through changing fads and fashion trends across the world. That’s a lot truer than you might expect, and you can see this reality reflected pretty clearly in Fred Leighton’s collection of 18th and 19th century jewelry, which includes styles from both the Georgian and Victorian eras (1715-1836 and 1837-1901, respectively).

On the surface the techniques utilized back then may seem antiquated, but you probably don’t realize just how much of it we rely on for the jewelry of today.  If you have ever worn a necklace with a heart, serpent, star, butterfly, or bow — which, to be honest, is probably everyone — then you have drawn from a motif pioneered during the Victorian period.  Take a look at some other designs we take for granted: a pair of earrings shaped like flowers.  This simple mold — embellished by a cluster of eight diamonds, a center of pearl, and a yellow gold setting — is the basis for countless jewelry designs in contemporary trends.  Another piece is a round locket, gold setting and a red enamel backing akin to stained glass windows.  In flight above that, among gold-set diamond stars, are the outstretched wings of two diamond-studded swallows, each bird sporting a magenta gem for an eye.  This avian duo, with their tails and wings bursting outside the margin of their circular border, is extremely reminiscent of The Hunger Games’s mockingjay pin, an iconic piece of contemporary jewelry.  It appears the vintage will continue to share its creative wellsprings for as long as the modern remains a willing recipient.

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