Jewelry Through The Ages Part 9 – Contemporary & Avant-garde Jewelry

Welcome to the last post in our Jewelry Through The Ages series! We hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. In part 9, we’re finding out more about the contemporary jewelry we see around us today.

Contemporary jewelry is made up of a variety of different forms and styles. Some styles are classic and elegant, some are earthy and bohemian and others are trendy and futuristic. There are plenty of other styles that sit somewhere in between.

Contemporary jewelry is seen as a progressive art movement, with new styles appearing all the time. In the early part of the 21st century, the “Bling Bling” style was popularized by rap and hip-hop artists and is still on the scene today.

The “Bling Bling” style of jewelry is usually sparkly or flashy, gold and elaborate – designed to make a statement. Grills are a good example of this – a gold metal accessory worn over the teeth.

It’s fair to say that some contemporary jewelry styles are heavily influenced by styles from the past. Take this summer’s jewelry trends for example.

Some of the bold and bright statement earrings seen on the catwalks definitely have an element of 60s and 70s design about them – and single statement bangles were seen in that era too.

Geometric shapes with hints of “art deco” style are being seen in jewelry made from clay, metal and even beadwork right now. Necklaces and bracelets adorned with glittering glass stones are billed as “vintage style” costume jewels.

Fine contemporary jewelry

There are enough fine jewelry shops around for us to know that precious metals and stones are as highly valued now as they were a couple of centuries ago. This is especially the case for wedding and engagement rings, which are usually made from precious materials.

Materials and techniques used in contemporary jewelry

A wide range of materials are now used for jewelry-making, including precious and non-precious metals, precious and semi-precious gemstones, plastic, glass, resin, clay, fabric and natural or found objects.

Contemporary jewelry is often mass produced through jewelry manufacturing companies around the world. With that said, there are more indie jewelry designers now than ever before.

Techniques used in contemporary jewelry-making include metalsmithing, glass artistry, wirework, beadwork (beadweaving and bead stringing), clay firing and more.

Contemporary jewelry forms

It’s possible to find a piece of jewelry for every part of your body nowadays! Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, rings, watches and anklets are the most common types, but facial and body jewelry is also widely available.

Pierced facial jewelry can include nose, eyebrow and tongue studs and examples of body jewelry that are on trend at the moment are complete torso chains and shoulder jewelry.

Bridal jewelry has a whole niche of its own in the jewelry industry. Styles can range from pretty and delicate, to sparkly and striking. As well as the usual jewelry types (such as necklaces, rings and bracelets) bridal jewelry can extend to tiaras, bridal sashes or belts, hair accessories and more.

Avant-garde jewelry

Avant-garde is a concept that can’t really be defined in just a few words – it deserves a whole section and most definitely more than what we have room for in this post! But here is a very brief overview of this amazing jewelry style.

The avant-garde style translates to fashion and also architecture. When it comes to avant-garde jewelry, this is a cutting edge, extravagant and futuristic style.

Avant-garde jewelry is a form of art and one that continues to progress and develop. Jewelry pieces are unusual and quite daring – this style doesn’t conform to the usual standards of jewelry-making.

Avant-garde jewelry designers craft jewelry pieces from all sorts of materials, including metal, plastic, rubber, nylon and more. They push the boundaries of contemporary jewelry design to create something radical, bespoke – and sometimes bordering on the limits of wearability.


Contemporary jewelry today is made up of a mixture of styles – pretty much anything goes! The jewelry industry of our time is doing well economically. Thanks to the growing economy and the rise of personal income, the global jewelry market has seen impressive growth according to this 2015 report.

We hope you enjoyed our final installment in this series. In case you missed the other articles in Jewelry Through The Ages, you can catch up here:

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