The feminist movement. Make love, not war. Disco nights. The seventies were a time of social upheaval and strong style statements. And the iconic 70’s Jewelry pieces that define 70’s jewelry trends of the era are just as bold: The Love Bracelet by Cartier, the Bone Cuff and open heart by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany, and the Monete pendant by Bulgari.
Growing up in the seventies I owned and almost never took off the Bone Cuff. My mom owned The Love Bracelet. My aunts and cousins that wanted a bolder look wore the Monete pendant. Although the Love Bracelet and Monete necklace were originally created in the mid-to late sixties, they, like the Bone Cuff, became the must-have jewelry of the seventies. The renowned jewelry houses that created them were savvy enough to understand the cultural changes that were taking place and create pieces that perfectly reflected the style of the time. The decade wasn’t ablaze with diamonds, it was sculpted in gleaming polished metal.
These iconic 70’s jewelry pieces were not only revolutionary in style, they were also evolutionary: they became collections, were reinterpreted, and never went out of fashion. All are still not only produced today, they are as coveted as they were back when they were created. Thanks to the millennial generation, who are seeing these designs for the very first time, there is a revival of both the vintage and new incarnations. The history of these pieces, the celebrity factor then and now, and wearable versatility have made them as collectible today as they were when they were first introduced.
Perhaps one of the most important 70’s jewelry Items was the Cartier Love bracelet, designed in 1969, was launched to represent enduring devotion but over the past 45 years it has also come to mean everlasting chic. Both celebrities and women of all demographics are still head over heels with the original style as well as the myriad variations that have been launched since.
The bracelet’s designer Aldo Cipullo was inspired by ancient cultures and influenced by the medieval chastity belt. The love bracelet is fitted onto the wrist in two parts, secured with a small screwdriver, and is to be worn “til death us do part.” The screwdriver can also be worn as a unisex necklace. At the original launch at its boutique in New York, Cartier presented twin bracelets to 25 of the world’s legendary couples, including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponte, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Other couples that owned the bracelets were Nancy and Frank Sinatra, Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant, and Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen.
Today, these bracelets have been spotted on famous wrists such as Cameron Diaz, Pippa Middleton, Sofia Coppola, Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie. In Manhattan, it has been reported that hospitals keep the small screwdriver on hand in case of an emergency. The Love collection is the largest and most successful in Cartier’s history, now including rings, earrings, cufflinks and multiple versions of the bracelets with diamonds and colored gemstones in pink, yellow and white gold.
Talk about the resurgence of a bracelet and you can’t help but mention Elsa Peretti’s 1974 sterling silver bone cuff for Tiffany & Co. It was the piece that all mothers had and all daughters wanted in the 70s: I know because I finally received one. Celebrated women of the time, including Diana Vreeland, Liza Minnelli and Sophia Loren owned and wore them in various photos and to numerous events.
Elsa Peretti understood the changing roles in women’s lives in the seventies. Her pieces spoke to women who wanted a look that was bold and made a statement. Elsa Peretti jewelry was also an alternative to the diamond-encrusted pieces that could only be worn for evening. The Bone cuff was perhaps Peretti’s most celebrated design. It still graces the wrists of trends-setting actresses such as Rosamund Pike, Rachel Weisz and, most recently, Naomi Watts. These leading ladies have worn this cuff to various red carpet events in recent years, proof that Peretti’s original 70’s jewelry pieces have as much modern and timely appeal as when she first designed them.
Born in Italy and educated in Rome and Switzerland, Peretti moved to New York and became a fashion model in 1969 while also starting to design her own jewelry. American fashion designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo commissioned her to make pieces for a runway show, which became an instant success. Around the same time she met Halston, who became a long-time friend and collaborator, and also designed pieces for him. Tiffany & Co. introduced the Elsa Peretti collection in 1974. Peretti’s other famous styles include the perfume bottle pendant, the open heart pendant, the bean pendant, and her Diamonds By The Yard collection.These seventies jewelry items were record sellers, and are still popular today.
Another icon of 70s jewelry is the coin necklace from the Bulgari Monete collection. After years of luxurious and glamorous gemstone and diamond jewelry, the internationally renowned house of Bulgari, which was originally founded by Sortirio Bulgari in his native Greece which moved to Italy in 1905, evolved to become a favorite stop for American actors and actresses filming in Rome: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Tyron Power and his second wife Linda Christiansen, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Gina Lolobrigida. The brand was passed down from generation to generation and in the mid-sixties the new goal was to create jewelry to wear every day that was still elegant.The Monete collection was born in 1966 and continued to gain popularity throughout the 70’s jewelry trends with celebrities on the rise such as Susan Sarandon, Candice Bergen and Jane Fonda, who all owned the necklace.
The Monete necklace is one of the two most iconic 70’s jewelry pieces of the house (the other being the Serpentini bracelets) The necklaces feature mounted antique coins in the center, which speak to the brands long standing tradition in jewelry dating back to Ancient Rome. Nicola Bulgari, an enthusiastic coin collector encouraged the debut of the collection. In all the Monete pieces, the authentic coins are preserved unaltered: the mountings follow their contours. Each bezel setting is engraved on the back in Italian with the name of the emperors on the coins, the dates they were in power and the type of coin. In today’s Monete collection, Bulgari continues to feature coins from ancient Greece and Rome to early twentieth century America.
All of these seventies jewelry icons are extremely collectible and vintage pieces and are very marketable, especially if they are in good condition.
Celebrities past and present and women who appreciate both vintage and modern jewelry have lent these piece the star power they deserve and will keep them shining well into the future for the women who have yet to discover them.
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