Rose gold has become something we see everywhere from jewelry to phones, since Apple released the rose gold iPhone in 2013 the color has taken the world by storm. However, in the jewelry world rose gold has been a favorite for decades, with its intoxicating beauty and impressive durability its popularity has stood the test of time.
The infatuating yet subtle tones of rose gold were first used in the late 19th century by Carl Faberge in his now world-famous Faberge eggs. However, its popularity didn’t rise until, of course, the eccentric 1920s when it could be seen wrapped around precious gems and diamonds. With the onset of art deco jewelry styles rose gold found its place perfectly around the necks, fingers, and ears of the rich and famous, its copper undertones and ability to compliment any color made it versatile and glamorous, fitting for any occasion. However, rose gold reached its peak during the ‘Retro era’, which the jewelry world deemed as 1935-1950, this volatile time saw many world crises including World War II, The Great Depression, and vast changes in technology.
The spike in popularity of rose gold is no surprise, as the world was turned upside down by the war certain metals became scarce, an important one being platinum. Platinum’s tarnish-resistant properties and white undertones made it the most popular metal for jewelry throughout the 19th century, however with the onset of the war platinum became a very sought-after metal. Often used in military weaponry, the use of platinum for anything unrelated to the military became illegal in many countries. Once again igniting the popularity of rose gold in jewelry. Between the war and a changing society rose gold represents the relationship fashion can have with history, suffering, and changes within our social landscapes.
The rose gold trend has recently resurfaced as retro jewelry becomes more sought after, the intricate geometric designs and loud pieces of this time have recently burrowed their way back into public demand. Local Chicago jeweler Melissa Quick, President of Steve Quick Jewlers noted that the comeback of retro jewelry isn’t for everyone, “It takes the right kind of woman to pull off the big, bold retro jewelry. She is confident in her sense of style and is usually not a first-time buyer of vintage jewelry.” Perhaps this was also true when rose gold and this retro jewelry first became popular, the women of this era were bold and fearless they fought wars in ways men couldn’t even have imagined. These trailblazing women became gunnery instructors, repaired equipment, and even flew military planes and this fighting spirit was reflected in the statement jewelry they wore.
That is what makes retro jewelry so interesting, it offers a view into the past and allows us to understand the relationship between society and fashion. Rose gold is unique in that way as its popularity has been affected so greatly by global tragedies, and in turn, the changing state of society as women began to take a more central role in their own lives. Melissa Quick, notes that in our changing world “It makes sense to that the jewelry was big and bold and really made a statement.” Jewelry is not simply an addition to an outfit or a pretty necklace but it is Katherine Hepburn being the first woman to wear pants on television, it is a nation suffering at the hands of war and it is the representation of the durability and creativity of the human psyche. It is art.