Time Period: Retro rings were created during a period in history that reflected the upheaval of World War II and dramatic changes in society. Some of the main influences on jewelry at this time were a blend of the War Effort, Hollywood, the post-Depression recovery and women's entry into the workforce. This era was from the mid-1930s to the early 1950s
Description of Era: Retro style rings combine the fixed Art Deco designs and the free flowing styles of the Edwardian and Art Nouveau periods. Rings from this era often show geometry combine with movement. Many different types of shapes are paired together in unsuspecting ways. Much of the metal filigree work is fixed between hard lines. Hollywood had a huge impact on jewelry designs and styles of this era. Rings, brooches and hat pins made with large diamonds and brilliant gemstones were being introduced by the wealthy. Glitzy cocktail jewelry became extremely popular. Motifs being featured prominently in Retro rings included flowers, flags, birds, hearts, ribbons, scrolls, American Indian inspired themes and stars. Platinum was the most commonly used metal to create jewelry pieces that would maximize the flash and fire of diamonds and gemstones throughout the 1920s and 1930s. But after World War II started, platinum resources were directed for the War Effort and could no longer be used for jewelry as of 1941. Jewelers then turned to the use of white gold, but the U.S. government further restricted the use of gold in 1943. Retro rings from the 30s are often made with platinum or white gold, while those in the early 40s were mainly made with palladium. Restrictions on the use of gold and platinum were lifted in September, 1944 - and shortly thereafter platinum and white gold replaced palladium again. Although the use of white metals was prominent in the U.S., in Europe rose gold was used - when available - for Retro jewelry pieces. Solid rose gold Retro rings are uncommon, but it is possible to find rings that have been decorated with rose gold filigree or inlay on white gold or platinum. Diamonds were the most utilized stones during the Retro period.
Sapphires and rubies were also popular in American retro jewelry because they could be combined with diamonds to create patriotic red, white and blue jewelry pieces. Other popular colorful gemstones were amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, golden beryl peridot and tourmaline. Pearls and moonstone - which were popular during the Art Deco era were sometimes added to Retro jewelry as well. Channel settings are often seen in Retro rings and feature multiple gemstones and diamonds. The invented invisible setting was also created in the early 1930s and was used in many retro designer rings of the time.