Skip to content


As the 1960s progressed, long-established firms, that both designed and manufactured jewelry, recognized the success of the new aesthetic spearheaded by individual artist-jewelers. Given the high value of the materials involved and an entrenched conservative clientele, they understandably lagged behind the trends. But certainly, by the late 1960s, well-known jewelry houses such as Cartier, Bulgari, and Van Cleef & Arpels began to create pieces that utilized this more contemporary look. They employed younger jewelers to update more traditional lines, engaging them to design individual pieces and sometimes entire collections. Their aim was to attract a youthful clientele. The French firms Chaumet and Van Cleef & Arpels, for instance, launched boutiques that were trendier in design and ambiance. These spaces were meant to entice younger, hipper customers, while continuing to offer their customary lines to more conservative clients in their established locations. Greeted by contemporary music, clientele who entered the boutiques were often assisted by female associates—an unheard-of circumstance in the jewelry trade at the time.

While some individual jewelers and well-known firms continued to create highly textured jewelry, there was an aesthetic turn. The chunky, tactile style was slowly supplanted by a sleeker, polished line with a prevalence of geometric and abstract shapes. Encouraged by the spirit of the times to overturn the past, artist-jewelers and jewelry houses alike diversified their approach. While individuals created one-of-a-kind pieces, jewelry firms generally cast multiples but in a very limited format.