This spring, fashion is united in its open-armed embrace of the 1970s, even if designers have focused on different aspects of the decade. White peasant dresses by Nicolas Ghesquière can be seen at Louis Vuitton, “back to nature” floatiness is a strong theme at Stella McCartney, and sleek jumpsuits by Raf Simons make an appearance at Dior. Jewellery also has a distinctly 1970s flavour, now in a modern mash-up of the convention-busting themes and inspirations of the day – from hippie luxe to rock ’n’ roll.
While seminal designs from the era – such as Cartier’s Love bangle (from £3,150) and revived Juste un Clou (£8,350), both designed by Aldo Cipullo – are highly popular, newer designs with a 1970s feel are also making an impact, taking the aesthetic to a dynamic new level. London designer Hannah Martin, for example, regularly turns to 1970s icons like Patti Smith and David Bowie for inspiration (such as in the Rock ’n’ Roll collection and the Bid for Freedom bangle – £13,700 – from the Aguila Dorada collection), and her latest pieces now have a touch of hippie and glam mixed in. The Delirium Shadow Amulet pendant (£1,395), worn medallion style on a long chain, oozes a pre‑punk take on the decade.
This hippie-luxe, Talitha Getty-style hedonistic glamour (echoed in spring fashion at Etro) was a mainstream jewellery look of the day, beloved of Elizabeth Taylor and typified by Van Cleef & Arpels’ lustrously hefty gold chain sautoirs hung with colossal medallion pendants in a clash of hot gem colours. The enduring collection to emerge from this style was Van Cleef’s Alhambra (necklace, £3,700), which is surging again in popularity, especially among younger clients.
Newer brands are also playing with these themes – and perhaps most interesting is a Brazilian twist, especially evident in Brazilian designer Carla Amorim’s sensational oval hoop drop earrings (from £5,600), either in sunny gold or matt openwork, and British designer-jeweller Cassandra Goad’s exuberant Brazilian-themed pieces. The gold Ipanema cuff (£6,200) is a homage to Roberto Burle Marx’s famous 1970s Rio pavements, the Floresta earrings (from £690) conjure lush rainforests, and the Beatriz Carnaval pendant (from £13,950) is adapted from a 1970s-style painting by Beatriz Milhazes.
Seventies feminism is also a springboard for inspiration. While women’s lib more or less banished jewelled adornment (along with bras), revolutionary designers such as Elsa Peretti saw jewels as friends, not foes. She took an entirely fresh approach, creating pieces that were sleek and streamlined but still sensual – like Diamonds by the Yard (from £215) – to be bought by women for themselves and worn day and night for their own pleasure. Today, her gold and jade Claw collar for Tiffany & Co (£9,775) has a chic ferocity that echoes this fighting zeal.
Long before women’s liberation, however, this battle for independence and choice was fought by Gabrielle Chanel. At the house that bears her name, feminism was stridently in evidence on the spring/summer 2015 catwalks, where placard waving was a feature. Chanel has also launched a stunning new ring that captures the 1970s spirit – Ultra (£8,700) – a white-gold disc with diamonds and a central square of black or white ceramic.
Andrea Morante, CEO of Pomellato, sees the revived vibe as a sign of change and a challenge to jewellery conventions. “In the 1970s liberated women asked, ‘What are we going to wear?’ The question today is: ‘How can we change our look?’” The mood is typical of the 1970s, so the decade’s designs are a natural choice for inspiration. This year Pomellato launches a new version of its classic 1970s Tango chain: the Tango Long Chain (£44,700) in fine rose gold. It’s 94cm in length and threaded through at intervals with the oval links of the Tango design, pavéd in white or brown diamonds. The similarly styled Victoria (from £26,100) has its oval links carved from jet. The original Tango collection, meanwhile, still makes an impact, especially the wide rose-gold bangle (from £15,700) and the rose-gold and brown-diamond link necklace (from £50,000).
Chains are huge this season, literally and figuratively. If it’s a gold curb-link chain – oh so 1970s – the bigger, bolder and more strikingly simple the better. Noa’s gold and diamond chain-link Bulldozer choker (£21,000) with matching bracelet (£15,950) is an especially fine example. Noa designer Frieda Kaplan Gross, a third-generation jeweller, was inspired by her grandfather’s designs from the 1970s, and the choker looks fabulous worn casually inside a shirt collar, with a softly tailored jacket, or with a T-shirt. Dior also showcases the chunky chain – its Gourmette ring (£1,100) and bracelet (£3,400) give the ID tag a luxe twist.
Skinny, light chains were also a feature of the decade, but most usually as a vehicle for simple pendants. Chopard’s new take on its Happy Diamonds flowers collection includes one such pendant (£7,630), as well as earrings and ring, in white or rose gold. Designed in a pop-art style, its blossoms are naïve and joyful. Caroline Scheufele, Chopard’s co-president and creative director, has long championed the concept of casual glamour, believing in the 1970s credo that jewels (and diamonds) should be worn every day and not only saved for black-tie galas. She designed the new flowers, she says, to be fun but still chic and glamorous, and to appeal to a younger generation that she believes is driving the 1970s trend. “Young people are influencing jewellery design today. They’re making money much earlier and they are rewriting the rules set by their parents.”
For a true statement pendant necklace, however, it’s hard to find anything more spectacular than a boldly colourful, textured gold creation by Elizabeth Gage. The artist-goldsmith started out at the end of the 1960s, making jewels she wanted to wear but couldn’t find; she was one of the pioneering female designers to create pieces with a depth of meaning for a new breed of independent working women. Her necklaces (Nefertiti, £42,000) are strong and modern, often featuring a strand of unusual beads with a huge medallion-shaped pendant that houses a carved stone, ancient coin or intaglio. Sumptuous gold is handworked into swirling or hammered textures and enhanced with contrasting combinations of enamels and gemstones. Her lime-green peridots or fiery-orange mandarin garnets provide vibrant, psychedelic flashes of the colours that play a huge role in the 1970s jewellery trend this year.
Gage’s artistry leads neatly into another important style strand that is particular to 1970s jewellery and looks just right again today: the modern freeform jewel. Conceived by a new generation of designer-jewellers searching for an entirely fresh expression, the movement’s leader was Andrew Grima, whose radical space-agey ideas attracted the international jet set to his Jermyn Street boutique. He teamed bark-like textured gold with massive, craggy gem crystals or coloured stones that were unusual for the time, such as tourmalines cut in unexpected ways. Grima’s widow Jojo and daughter Francesca have carried on the business, developing his distinctive style through new jewels imbued with the essence of Grima’s philosophy. Jojo explains that she couldn’t resist revisiting the Lei necklace (price on request) of textured, fragmented gold scattered with diamonds, even though it took “two years on the bench” to handcraft. Her update is wider in front and has larger diamonds. And the hallmark huge rings, standing high on the finger, have evolved too. Some, designed by Francesca, are more abstract and architectural, and others more in the Grima mould. Of a new emerald ring (£57,500), Jojo says, “I wanted something bold and reminiscent of Andrew, but new and different. He never made a ring like this. He hated claws, so the marquise diamonds surrounding the central emerald are held in deep, boat-like settings. I think Andrew would have approved.” Meanwhile, the brand’s updated statement brooches – 1970s badges of status and style – work well on this season’s tailored jackets. A fan shape (£16,800) uses Grima’s original textured gold wire, but in an entirely new design.
Statement 1970s-inspired brooches can also be found at Guy&Max; its Algorithm brooch (£8,000) in heavily textured, organic-finish gold is peppered with pink diamonds and constructed around a startling central rubellite. The piece, by enterprising fraternal duo Guy and Max Shepherd who are at the vanguard of London designers exploring technology as a way of stimulating creativity, replicates computer algorithms using geometric forms. Max, in charge of the creative side of the business, combines 3D-printing processes with traditional goldsmithing and gem-setting skills to come up with designs – the most recent of which are distinctly 1970s yet totally modern.
But if it’s knuckleduster rings like Grima’s emerald offering that quicken the pulse, there’s a dizzying kaleidoscope to choose from. Boucheron’s Serpent Bohème ring (£13,400) is a fresh take on a design popular in the 1970s – a chunky yet sensual snake in beaded gold and diamonds. It has been brought back for clients who want the jewels worn by their mothers or grandmothers in the 1970s, says creative director Claire Choisne. “Serpent Bohème is the expression of freedom, femininity and self-confidence. For me, the contemporary twist comes from playing with extremes – the designs have become exaggerated in the new collection.”
For other structural yet sexy pieces, try Annoushka’s basket-weave amethyst ring (£8,500), inspired by one her mother had in the 1970s; Carla Amorim’s architectural, heavily textured gold ring (£3,975) with a concrete-like finish, slashed in strips to show a citrine beneath; Diane von Furstenberg’s glistering gold diamond-faceted ring for H Stern (from £3,000); or Hannah Martin’s Delirium Monumental Arc ring (£335), with its tough yet sculptural quality. These are the season’s glam rocks.
For more rock ’n’ roll jewellery, read about the best new bangles.