by Barbara van Look, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
Whether it's because of King Arthur and Merlin or the Starks and Lannisters, interest in historically influenced jewelry styles is on the rise.
The Renaissance and the Baroque periods offer some of the most richly colored, intricate and detailed jewelry, building on the wonders of the medieval era and taking jewelry into realms of fantasy previously unknown.
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned approximately 300 years, from the 1300s to the end of the 1500s. It began in Italy, influenced by the wealth of ancient Roman and Greek art discovered there, and spread to the rest of Europe from there. The influence of the Renaissance means certain artists and thinkers of that time frame are household names, even today: da Vinci, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo, Shakespeare and others. Renaissance art was known for influences from the ancient Classical world and increased realism in painting and sculpture.
The Baroque period (approximately 1600-1750) built directly on the foundations of the Renaissance. From the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England to the reign of Louis the 14th of France (aka "The Sun King"), the Baroque era was known for musicians Bach and Handel, painters Caravaggio and Rubens, and architects like Bernini. During the Baroque, less was less and more was better! Baroque art was known for exaggerated motion and clear, easy-to-see detail to create dramatic and motion-filled design.
The two eras share a number of influences--colors, materials and silhouettes. It's mostly an issue of degree. Renaissance-influenced styles tend to be more delicate, with fine chains or strands of beads, with more of a minimalist silhouette. Baroque-influenced styles, of course, are all about more, more, more. Here are some commonalities:
This is not a pastel trend Colors for the Renaissance and Baroque trends are rich and saturated gem tones--especially amethyst, emerald and garnet. Deep hues of sapphire blues, topaz golds, ruby reds and other gem colors are popular, especially translucent materials. The only exception is the mighty pearl, usually round and white, although Baroque or irregular pearls as centerpieces are common.
Fortune favors the gold Sure, silver can satisfy and copper's no calamity--they're just not the favored metal. That honor goes to yellow gold. Smooth, textured, filigreed, polished, antiqued … doesn't matter. Gold rules this trend.
Silhouettes with scope Necklaces and earrings are the most common and popular jewelry silhouettes for this trend, although highly embellished brooches are common. Look for chokers with plenty of presence, and longer necklaces with dangles, drops and delicate details.
How about bracelets and rings? Not as popular, and certainly not by themselves, especially for the Baroque side of this trend--bracelets and rings offer less scope for intricate embellishment than necklaces and earrings. However ...
No piece goes out alone Parures--a French word for jewelry sets--were historically important to these eras and currently popular in this trend. Necklaces with matching earrings, plus a bracelet and ring, and--if you're really all about more being more being more? Don't forget the tiara, aigrette, headband or decorative comb. The modern idea of jewelry in the hair, rather than on a veil or hat, comes from these timeframes.
The modern take on the parure is that they don't have to be matchy-matchy. Using the same materials or colors, but slightly different designs is a great way to expand the use for each piece in the set.
Swirl and sparkle and swag Multiple swags of chain or strands of small beads are part of the elegance of the Renaissance and the lavishness of the Baroque. Subtle and sophisticated or loud and proud, this trend really likes its swag.
And its sparkle. Originally, it was all about diamonds; these days, we've got Swarovski and silver-lined seed beads.
Don't like dangly things? Scrollwork and filigree, with arabesques and other swirling shapes are part of the busy eye-candy features of the Baroque influence. A lively surface design offers plenty of interest.
Gorgeous gemstone color, extravagant embellishment and a heady dose of detail are at the heart of this historically influenced trend. View samples in our Gallery of Designs for plenty of inspiration.