The Downton Abbey Effect: Jazz Age Jewelry More Popular Than Ever

Vintage and reproduction jewelry pieces in the styles of the Roaring ‘20s are experiencing unprecedented popularity in-store and at auction, including online jewelry sites. The current spike in interest may have started with the 2013 release of The Great Gatsby, which featured a creative collaboration between the film’s costume designer and Tiffany & Co, and a resulting collection of Art Deco reproductions from the venerable jeweler. Similarly, on millions of smaller screens, the wildly popular Downton Abbey from PBS’s Masterpiece Series is fanning the flames for Jazz Age jewelry. Season 4, now set in the1920s, finds the aristocratic Crawley women wearing shorter skirts, longer necklaces, and in next Sunday’s episode simply dazzling diamond headpieces. I, for one, can’t wait.

Lady Mary
Lady Mary, Photo Courtesy of PBS

Jeweled Headbands

Sunday’s dramatic finale will feature the society debut of the irrepressible Lady Rose, Lord and Lady Grantham’s spunky niece, a British version of the American Flapper. Fresh off a failed liaison with an America jazz singer, Rose trades in her short, corset-less shift for a luxe evening gown with a diamond crown. Expect to see faux gem headpieces become the fashion accessory in stores this winter. They’re already rearing their pretty heads at runway shows from Yves Saint Laurent to Ralph Lauren.

Ivanka Trump Tassel Necklace
Ivanka Trump Tassel Necklace

The Sautoir

The sautoir is typically a long beaded necklace with a tassel at the end. It can be found throughout the history of jewelry, but it was especially popular in the 1920s when fringe was all the rage. In Downton Abbey’s Season 4 the sautoir has become the go-to piece for the Crawley girls. Lady Cora wore a stunning version last Sunday at dinner with two – or was it three? – of Lady Mary’s suitors. Spring and Fall 2014 runway collections feature fringe galore – look for the sautoir to dominate jewelry editorials in the months to come.

Les Perles de Chanel
Les Perles de Chanel
Photo Courtesy of


Popularized in the ‘20s by Coco Chanel in Paris, long ropes of pearls found their way to Yorkshire, the setting for Downton Abbey. They looked especially effective with the pastel frocks worn at Lady Cora’s Village Bazaar in last Sunday’s episode. You can achieve this ladylike effect at every price point. Long pearls are feminine … classic … and, with pastel fashions more popular than ever this spring, they’re definitely on-trend.

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Tell us about your favorite 1920s jewelry look. And don’t despair that Season 4 is ending. Rumor has it the producers will release Season 5 simultaneously in Great Britain and the U.S., so we won’t have to wait until next January!

Want to learn the best way to clean and care for your pearls, click here?


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