During the 1940s and 50s, Retro jewelry was designed to offset the serious, somber and austere clothing styles of the World War II era. Jewelry styles were big, colorful and remarkably playful. Brooches with flowers, bows and butterflies were especially popular among women who relied on these feminine motifs to soften the era’s masculine clothing styles. Some designers, notably Jean Schlumberger of Tiffany & Co., favored elaborate and naturalistic designs of florals, animals and birds to contrast the grave reality of the death and destruction of war.
Because of the wartime efforts, platinum was scarce and jewelers turned to budget-friendly stones like aquamarine and citrine in lieu of expensive diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Retro designs typically include large semi-precious stones and only a few precious stones. To make the sparse stones feel more impressive, the settings were usually bold, geometric styles in contrasting rose, yellow or white gold.