April 23, 2022
4 min read

History of baroque jewelry

History of baroque jewelry
History of baroque jewelry

Eye-catching and bold Baroque jewels are the witnesses of the era. However, they’re still relevant today.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Renaissance evolved into a new style called the Baroque. This new period lasted from 1600 to 1775. 

The word Baroque is derived from Italian barocco, meaning “bizarre” or “fancy”. In Portugal barocco meant “oddly shaped pear,”. Baroque is associated with something elaborate, highly detailed and excessive. 

The development and popularity of the Baroque style is linked to the Catholic Church. The Council of Trent decided that the arts should communicate religious themes and direct emotional involvement – and the Baroque was a perfect style for that. This style appeals to the senses and emotions, demonstrates exaggerated motion, conveys drama, exuberance and even grandeur. 

Although the Baroque style itself has roots in Italy, the Baroque jewelry design was influenced mostly by France.

Jewelry always depends on fashion. The 1600s were marked by the rejection of rigid and boring clothes worn during the Renaissance. Ladies of the new century preferred soft and flowing dresses with peculiar low necklines. The new era jewels were created to go with this new fashion. 

What is more, it was exactly in the 17th century when exclusive pieces became available to wider parts of the society With the growth of international trade, middle class of merchants and craftsmen gained some wealth and hence, could afford the kind of jewels which was initially reserved for nobles. That’s when retail jewelers emerged. 

Baroque distinctive features

History of baroque jewelry

The naturalistic trend in design started in France and later spread all over Europe. Exotic and fancy flowers adorned the jewelry of that time. This trend was related to the intensification of the trade with the East that brought new flowers to Europe and created a real hysteria around them. Flowers were everywhere. 

Arabesque motifs were also in fashion at that time. Initially they were made with enamel, later – when the quality of gem cutting was improved – jewelers began putting emphasis on stones. 

During the second part of the 17th century, the emphasis on stones in the design became even more noticeable. While gems were were getting more and more attention, the use of enamel decreased and was only popular among conservative groups. 

The bow was one of the most prevalent motifs in Baroque jewelry. Initially it was a ribbon used to secure a jewel on a dress, later the ribbon itself turned into a jewelry piece set with diamonds, gemstones and pearls.

Baroque materials


Diamonds were at their peak during the Baroque period. The increase of their availability and popularity is related to intensified trading and opening of new diamond mines. The most popular shapes of that time were square and cushion – with short bezel facets, an open culet and steep pavilions and crowns. In order to intensify the sparkle, the stones were set in silver.


Among the most popular colored stones were emeralds, rubies and topazes. They adorned not only classic jewelry pieces, but also watches. 


Baroque portraits demonstrate a great amount of pearl parures, including necklaces, drop earrings, hairstrings and dress clasps for the bodice, sleeves and waist. However, the wealthiest parts of the society preferred wearing colorful gems over pearls.

Types of Baroque jewelry

Among the most common jewelry types were brooches resembling bows or bouquets, girandole earrings with gemstones and pearls, esclavage or collar necklaces, hair ornaments and paired gold bracelets set with pearls. 

History of baroque jewelry
Baroque chain designs
History of baroque jewelry
Sketches of Baroque jewelry

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