The Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III in 1348, is the oldest British Order of Chivalry. The Order consists of 25 members (the King and twenty-four knights), and honors those who have either held public office or served the country in some significant way. The insignia of the Order features the garter (among other symbols), and owing to its association with this honorable crew, the image of the garter is imbued with the qualities of loyalty, fidelity, and protection. Thanks to all this poignant symbolism, the garter, buckle, or belt motif was exceedingly popular in nineteenth century jewelry and saw a great resurgence in popularity (though perhaps not for the same symbolic reasons) in the 1960s and '70s. This vintage mesh belt ring is made in 18k yellow gold and can be adjusted to fit a size 4 or a size 6.75.
RETRO (1935 - 1945)
World War II marked the shift from Art Deco to retro, as yet another war (and the subsequent materials rations) dictated what was available on the jewelry market. Platinum was reserved for military use, so jewelers began relying heavily on gold and experimenting with colored alloys and different finishes. Retro jewelry designs are marked by asymmetry, motifs borrowed from industrial design, and exaggerated scale.
Thanks to a hugely successful advertising campaign begun in the 1940s and funded by De Beers, the phrase “a diamond is forever” was coined and diamond rings were touted as the ONLY acceptable type of engagement ring. Carefully worded ads instructed men on how to choose a stone, and what to spend (“two months salary!”). The Gemological Institute of America developed the so-called “4Cs” of diamond grading, which was a scientific system for measuring the color, clarity, cut and carat weight of every single diamond.
The costume jewelry industry, having only been established a few decades before, began to flourish. Centered in Providence, Rhode Island, and surrounding New England towns, companies like Trifari, Monet, Hobe, and Vendome prospered as consumers gobbled up inexpensive machine-made jewels.