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The Floral Motif in Jewelry

The Floral Motif in Antique Jewelry

 Flowers are one of the most common motifs in jewelry, which is not surprising. It is our natural desire to replicate nature’s ephemeral beauty in enduring works of art.

Each piece of lovely, floral-themed jewelry from the antique heirloom collection at Isdaoras is special – reflecting the spirit of the era in which it was created. 


Victorian Era

In the Victorian Era, lovers were obsessed with secret languages assigned to love tokens. Flowers were assigned specific meanings. For example, a daisy meant innocence, while a sunflower indicated adoration.

In the acrostic ring below, the word REGARD is spelled out using the first letter of each gemstone that creates the floral motif. Starting at the top right:  Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, and Diamond (in the center). 

Victorian Acrostic REGARD Ring


Art Nouveau Era

In the Art Nouveau Era, stylized flowers were once again popular; designs were curvaceous and whimsical. Flowers never used in jewelry before became the norm – water lilies, fuchsias, and poppies. The Art Nouveau genre also paid homage to animals including birds, dragonflies and butterflies.

Art Nouveau Silver Pocket Watch

Simultaneously in the Edwardian Era, floral designs were used decoratively in brooches like this gorgeous lapel brooch with gemstone floral accents.



 Art Deco Era

Art Deco design decried flowing lines and adopted cubism. However, many motifs of the time still included flowers. The below Art Deco locket, circa 1930, features eye-catching blue guilloche enamel  - adorned with a bouquet of marcasite flowers in the center of the piece.

Art Deco Blue Guilloche Enamel Pendant/Locket with Marcasite Flowers 


 Retro Era

In the Retro Era, floral motifs flourished – but with a difference. Jewelers now incorporated movement. Big, chunky jewelry often featured articulated petals and leaves – though bolder and less realistic. The below piece ladies' watch embodies movement in the lift of the watch’s articulated cover. Ruby and diamond flowers accent the top and bottom of the design.

Retro Ruby & Diamond Ladies' Wrist Watch


Midcentury Era

After WWII, fashion returned to femininity. Midcentury jewelry was open, airy, and textural. Flowers were a popular motif often emphasized by gemstones.Midcentury Calla Lily Ring with Diamonds and Emerald, Sapphire Pistils


This beautiful midcentury ring features a gold calla lily with emerald and sapphire pistils. Flower representation in jewelry during the mid-twentieth century evolved from the large, articulated Retro Era flowers to a more natural and realistic depiction.

 All of these lovely pieces come from the heirloom collection at Isadoras. Please stop by and visit us in-store or online to see more of our amazing antique jewelry.

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