Wholesale Costume Jewelry in the 1940s

Jewelry in its most basic form dates back to the beginning of mankind. Early on, jewelry was made of animal teeth and bone as well as carved stone and wood. It was initially used as a means of convenience, such as to fasten loose clothing. As time went on, jewelry became an ornament for religious ceremonies. In ancient civilizations, jewelry was also worn to indicate wealth and royalty. In modern times, jewelry is worn as an accessory to spruce up an outfit and show off your individual style.

The term costume jewelry was born in the 1920s. The term referred to fashionable jewelry that was not intended to be handed down as a family heirloom. Many attribute the term to Coco Chanel, who designed jewelry using fake stones that looked like precious gemstones. With costume jewelry, women could purchase expensive looking jewelry without the hefty price tag.

After the 1920s, costume jewelry continued to gain popularity, particularly in the 1940s. The onset of World War II brought America out of the Great Depression and put more money in the pockets of consumers. Women had the extra money to spend on consumer products, including jewelry.

Let’s take a look at the trends of wholesale costume jewelry in the 1940s:

    • Non-precious metals and stones – During wartime, many jewelry manufacturers did not have access to precious metals, like gold, silver, or copper, or precious gemstones. Base metals were also in low supply because they were allocated to the wartime efforts. Therefore, jewelry makers turned to other materials to make their jewelry, such as plastics, sterling silver and yellow or rose gold. Costume jewelry also featured rhinestones and brightly colored gems.


    • Patriotism – After America entered World War II, patriotism was incorporated into everything from movies to music to fashion. Patriotic jewelry, such as American flag pins or brooches, was prominent during this time.


    • Big & Bold – Hollywood was a major influence on costume jewelry in the 1940s. Movie stars, including Katherine Hepburn and Eva Gardner, wore big, bold styles in their movies. Women took to Hollywood glamor and mimicked the pieces they saw on the screen. One of these popular Hollywood trends was the cocktail ring, which featured brightly colored stones cut in circular, square or rectangular shapes.


    • Pins – Retro style pins were another huge hit back in the day. Pins were made from sterling silver or colored gold and featured rhinestones or fake gemstones. Women loved pins that featured flowers or figural shapes, like animals or ballerinas. The pins could be worn on their clothing, hat or scarves.


Today, many of these 1940s trends have come back in style. To make sure your store is stocked with these styles, contact Olympia Gold. We offer the highest quality wholesale costume jewelry, as well as layered gold and silver by the inch.

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