Wartime Jewelry Fashions Brightened Era of Uncertainy in 1918

World War I weighed heavily on the jewelry industry in 1918, and the uncertainty of the era affected fashion trends throughout the year, according to JCK’s 50th anniversary issue published in February 1919.

Jewelry fashion endured a “paralysis closely allied to absolute stagnation,” which Marion Langlands, the author of the article, attributed to an “uncertainty that permeated the atmosphere and made looking ahead and planning for the future a subject to be shunned.”

That certainly sounds like what jewelers today have had to contend with during the turbulence of the recent economic downturn. However, just like today, manufacturers then found a way to both innovate and provide a fashionable respite from tough times.

Langlands wrote, “as the most dismal time always comes just before the dawn, so the period immediately before the signing of the armistice was the darkest part of the whole year for the jeweler.” But by the start of the holiday season “hopeful news had taken the place of indecision and doubt,” and jewelry fashion experienced a “constantly increasing crescendo of successes.”

Here are some of the jewelry trends from 1918 that orchestrated that crescendo:

“A handsome tiara in diamonds and large faceted sapphires.”


“A bandeau with a unique side pendant.”—Designs by Walter McTeigue


“An elaborate bow-knot corsage ornament.”—Walter McTeigue


“A group of original designs in diamond encrusted patterns.”—Designs from Bonner Mfg. Co.


“Two unconventional pendant designs, an overlapping pattern for a bar-pin, and a brooch in strap work and cluster design.”—Designs from Frank C. Osmers


“Some rich calibre work on finger rings and necklace and a handsome bar-pin.”—Designs from Shire & Strauss


“Three new gem brooches.”—Frank Osmers


“Three pendants in the new method of using tinted gold with calibre gems.”—Designs from J. Mehrlust


“A corsage ornament in lacework pattern.”—Design from H. Berg


“A watch used with an architectural motif for a corsage ornament.”—Design from J.H. Lapidus


“Three large solitaire rings, a bracelet chain necklace, and a handsome brooch.”—Designs from Davidson & Schwah


“Some examples of the new method of setting diamonds with fine milgrain wire.”—Designs from Julius Wodiska


“An interesting soutoir watch.”—Designs from B. Roede & Sons


“Wrist watch, finger rings, and a brooch pendant in diamonds and sapphires.”—Designs from J. Garson

For more from JCK’s 50th anniversary issue, check out: