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Whether it was to showcase one’s social status and wealth, to serve a religious purpose, to represent relationships, or to use as a fashion accent, contemporary jewellery has always been a very important aspect of almost every culture around the world since times immemorial.

Even though jewelry has always been a way of adorning the body, it also carries significant meaning and symbolism. While some jewelry pieces have sentimental value as they are passed down from generation to generation, some precious ornaments were collected to serve as security in times of financial crisis.

Did you know that the history of jewelry dates back to as many as 25,000 years ago and India’s fascination with it began some 5,000 years ago in the Indus Valley? And since then, like almost every other thing, jewelry has gone through an immense transformation too. It developed not just in terms of the materials used and the designs made but also in terms of the variety and as a craft form in general. This gave rise to modern jewellery designs and a lot more variety to the wearer. 

When talking about jewelry, there is so much to discuss. There is a sea of knowledge with so much to explore and so much yet to be explored. So, here, in this article, we share with you a speck of this ocean full of knowledge. We talk about a topic that has been much in trend in the past few years- contemporary jewelry.

What is Contemporary Jewelry?

Even though the term ‘contemporary jewelry’ has been around for about 50 years, there are a host of definitions on it. It is a term that is hard to define as it is so internally diverse and differs among regions.

While some believe contemporary jewellery to be the modern offspring of the craft-based activity, others see it as the modern jewelry-makers deviating from the old goldsmith’s tradition.

Contemporary jewellery is something that is made in the time, it is relevant and something that ‘belongs to the same or the present time’. So, basically, contemporary jewelry is something that is in trend in the present day. And it is a beautiful mixture of jewelry and art.

Along with adorning the body and outfit, this jewelry is also worn as a way to express individual talent, influences, and contemporary culture.

Each and every piece of contemporary jewellery is unique and can be made using a host of materials. 

An example of contemporary jewellery can be navel rings, a jewellery style that developed sometime during the year 1993. 

The producers of jewelry during the 60s and early 70s who made the use of ‘poor materials’ to make extravagant forms of jewelry can be called the proponents of this jewelry style.

We hope this gives you an idea of what contemporary jewelry is all about.

Difference between Modern Jewelry and Contemporary Jewelry

While many people believe the two to be the same, they are actually a bit different. And while contemporary jewellery and modern jewellery do have many similarities, there are some key differences between them.

The main focus of modern jewelry is the aesthetic appeal and the end product is crafted by keeping its appearance in mind. It can be defined as something that gives a modern twist to traditional jewelry. So, this is what we refer to when we talk about modern jewellery designs.

On the other hand, while designing the contemporary type of jewelry, multiple aspects are considered during its creative process. Not just its aesthetic appeal but its materiality and social context are also taken into consideration.

The History of Contemporary Jewelry

The history of contemporary jewelry dates back to over 60 years ago, to 1960. It began in the second half of the 20th century and its beginning is seen as a progressive art movement. The contemporary jewellery era is defined as artistic, fun as well as self-expressing. The jewelry of this era stopped being a symbol of status or wealth and instead, became more of what we know it as today- an accessory.

Now, let us take a look at contemporary jewelry through the ages.

The 1960s

The jewelry of this decade introduced us to what is known as ‘the space age’ of jewelry. This was the time that plastic was introduced into the world of jewelry making, mostly owing to its affordability.

Since the jewelry enthusiasts wanted more affordable jewelry and more pieces of jewelry, especially for daily wear, the contemporary jewelry made during this time enabled them to do so.

It was a period of experimentation, vibrant and unusual colors, geometric shapes, and asymmetrical designs. Multi-strand faceted glass and crystal beads were also commonly used. A lot of metals and gemstones that weren’t previously used for making jewelry were widely used in this era. This included crystals, baroque pearls, and turquoise. Flower power also had a strong influence on the jewelry of the 1960s. 

All in all, the 1960s was a very crucial time for the development of contemporary jewelry and the modern jewellery designs of this time were very unique.

The 1970s

This was an era where the style of the jewelry was a bit relaxed. As it was also a time that more women were entering the workforce, jewelry styles were such that they could easily be worn daily but at the same time, could be transformed into evening pieces.

Layered necklaces and bracelets were popular modern jewellery designs of the 70s. The contemporary jewelry of this time was also highly influenced by the Hippie and Bohemian styles of that time. So, there was a lot of nature-themed jewelry during this time.

Natural materials such as stones, wood, and ivory were very commonly used for jewelry-making. And the earthy browns, greens, mustard yellows, and dark oranges were the most preferred colors for the jewelry of this era.

The 1980s

The 80s were a time of bold jewelry pieces in loud colors. Big jewelry pieces in neon colors that were made out of plastic defined the 80s jewelry trends. 

Oversized hoop earrings, chunky necklaces, and neon bangles are examples of some popular contemporary jewelry pieces of this time. Also, this is the decade when cocktail rings were introduced.

Headbands embellished with gemstones also became quite popular during the 1980s. A lot of statement pieces that enabled its wearer to express themselves became quite popular in this decade.

The 1990s

The 1990s were a striking contrast to the 1980s. Darker and more subdued type of contemporary jewelry was the trend in this era. The idea of minimalist jewelry developed during this decade.

Some popular modern jewellery design pieces from the 1990s include choker necklaces, pendant necklaces, and charm bracelets. And the bold neon pieces from the decade that passed by were seen as tacky and out of date. 

Contemporary Jewelry Today

The contemporary jewellery of today is hard to define into any one particular style. Right from gold, silver, and precious stones to wood, jute, and other metals to plastic, everything is used for contemporary jewelry-making.

Since we live in an era where self-expression is very much stressed upon, jewelry is one of the best ways of doing it. Hence, contemporary jewelry of today highly depends on its wearer. And the jewelry industry of today caters to all kinds of jewelry wearers. 

Whether it is the neon jewelry or oversized hoops from the 80s or the dark-colored chokers from the 90s, every kind of contemporary jewelry is at the wearer’s disposal today.

What’s more, is that we also live in a highly creative era. This means that newer jewelry inventions and newer designs are developed every day all across the world. 

For the contemporary jewelry of today, the sky is literally the limit as each and every designer has his/ her own creative styles. 

The world has really opened up to the concept of contemporary jewelry and the number of ways that it can be styled are truly limitless. 

The Materials and Techniques used for making Contemporary Jewelry

The making of contemporary jewellery isn’t just limited to any one material or technique anymore. Everything right from plastic and reconstructed materials to precious metals like gold and silver is used for making it. Several colorful precious, as well as semi-precious gemstones, also find their use in making this kind of jewelry.  

Contemporary jewellery isn’t just high street fashion but can also be found at fine jewelry stores. Also, the techniques used for making it vary greatly from brand to brand. While some brands mass produce their jewelry, some independent designers like to handcraft their jewelry pieces. Metalsmithing, wirework, glass artistry, beadwork, etc. are some of the many techniques that are used to make contemporary jewelry.

As there are more jewelry brands now more than ever, there is an array of variety available. Any and every kind of jewelry piece can be found in the contemporary style. Finger rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets are the most common ones. Not just that but facial and body jewelry is also quite common and jewelry for nose, ear, and other piercings, and body chains are also widely available. 

Top Indian Contemporary Jewelry Brands to know about

1.Olio

Dangler earrings featuring ancient Greek coins, reversible pendants with a one paisa coin on one side, and a turquoise stone on the other are some of the most popular designs by this brand.

A Kolkata-based brand, Olio is built on the simple concept of being a modern-day heirloom. The brand’s designs draw inspiration from mythological figures, age-old Indian traditions, and more.

Olio’s jewelry is very versatile and striking and its collection has a lot of interchangeable pieces. It is for modern-day women and their jewelry pieces start at Rs.2,500.

  1. Lune

Lune is also an Indian contemporary jewelry brand to know about. A Mumbai-based brand, whimsical, light, and delicate best define the brand’s designs.

They have new collections coming up every month, making Lune a favorite among its customers. 

Lune’s pieces are unique and range from everyday style to occasional. Their pieces start at an affordable price of Rs. 400.

  1. Dhora

A Jaipur-based brand, Dhora makes beautiful contemporary jewelry along with curating designs from some of the best designers. 

Gold and silver-polished metal bangles, silver-polished baalis, and chunky rings are some of Dhora’s highlights. The brand’s designs find inspiration in the landscapes and traditions of Rajasthan.

You will find a wide range of jewelry consisting of earrings, finger rings, charm bracelets, chokers, necklaces, and much more beautifully designed by Dhora. The brand’s price range starts at Rs. 800.

  1. Manifest Design

Another Indian jewelry brand known for its contemporary jewellery is called ‘Manifest Design’. The brand’s designs seek inspiration from architectural forms, bold rock formations, sculptures, flowers, corals, and much more. 

They have a huge collection of jewelry including statement earrings, neckpieces, bracelets, bangles, cuffs, and a lot more. They use a metal smith’s craftsmanship to create everyday wearable pieces.

Manifest Design’s jewelry pieces start at Rs. 1000.

  1. Hannan

Founded by two childhood friends, the brand creates one-of-a-kind jewelry using resin, ceramic and freshwater pearls.

A dangler consisting of a glitter-filled heart topped with purple amethyst, cosmic lover earrings, and pearl drop earrings are some of Hannan’s signature designs.

They also have a range of charms that make great additions to chains as well as bracelets. Their jewelry range consisting of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and more is brass-based and gold-plated.

Although we only talked about 5 here, there are numerous contemporary jewelry brands in India. Each and every brand is equally beautiful as it has its unique sense of style.

Not just brands but stunning contemporary jewelry can also be found in the local jewelry shops in India.

Conclusion

Contemporary jewelry is something that is made ‘in the current time’ and hence, it is something that is going to be in trend forever.

In this article, we told you not just about its definition and history but also talked about some of the best brands making it.

Which type of contemporary jewelry is your favorite?

Over to You

Here, we talked about the 21 must-read books on jewellery. Which one of these 21 jewellery books are you the most excited to read?

In case you desire to buy some silver jewelery, head over to our jewellery section where you can buy rings, earrings, pendants, bangles & bracelets and necklaces.

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