Pieces of fine gothic jewelry in their stylish forms are deeply symbolic pieces. Gothic jewelry is more than just adornments. It provides a profound method of self-expression. Gothic jewelry is replete with symbols that contribute to the intricate details that make it beautiful, striking, and mysterious.
What makes gothic jewelry what it is today is deeply rooted in the history, culture, music, and literature prevalent in introducing certain styles. All of these address their proponents' need to express concepts that transcend conventional beliefs and fashion. Because it has a style that defies convention, gothic jewelry is a poignant expression that makes its wearers stand out.
To some people, gothic jewelry defies convention to the point of being contradictory. However, a closer look at what inspires its designs will help us understand what makes fine gothic jewelry exceptional. Before we start, let us get a brief background on defining "gothic" and the journey that led us to its current form.
What Is Gothic?
Gothic refers to Germanic peoples who succeeded in gaining power in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. The great cathedrals of Europe built in the Middle Ages are named after them. The distinctive characteristics of these cathedrals, their pointed edges, intricate forms, and elongated shapes, are also shared by the fashions of the age. More rounded incarnations, deeply influenced by Queen Victoria, gained prominence in the Victorian era and are closely associated with femininity, which still affects gothic fashion today.
As early as 1764, we see the first gothic literature novel, The Castle of Otranto. In the 19th century, gothic themes in literature became more popular and prevalent through the work of Edgar Allan Poe and novels like Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, to name a few. With the silent movie era, the first gothic icon, Theda Bara, emerged. Then in the 1950s, Vampira embodied a spellbinding presence.
From the 1970s, to the 1980’s gothic fashion emerged. It is music, literature, movies, and fashion designers who have lent their influence to variations of gothic fashion and jewelry. However, though gothic style and jewelry branched out into various forms and subgenres, they all share the dark, antiquated, mysterious, and intricate forms that defy convention.
The 1970s to 1980s: Gothic Rock Music
In its current form, gothic fashion and gothic jewelry started to become popular in the 1970s and further emerged in the 1980s. The genre that defines the music touches on themes such as melancholy, dark romanticism, and deep messaging of life along with tragedy, and morbidity. Along with the darker sound of gothic rock came the fashion sensibilities of the people who identified themselves with the music and its themes. The early proponents of post-punk rock, such as David Bowie, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, the Cure, and Joy Division, were fashion icons. Those themes extended to gothic jewelry prevalent at the time. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood started making a name for herself through her part in the creation of punk and in the blending new romanticism with historical references that paved the way to a new style that considerably impacted the gothic movement in the 1970s. Those themes extended to the gothic jewelry that was prevalent at the time.
The choices of metal colors, stones, and design themes that defined "traditional goth" jewelry became the norm in these decades. Designs closely identified with ancient Egyptian, Celtic, and Christian components and pagan symbols were popular and truly eclectic. These mainly consisted of ankhs, skulls, crosses, snakes, bats, roses, daggers, and triangles. All of these in some form symbolized immortality and the eternal, life and death, transition cycles, and unity of the real world with the world of spirits. The distinctive use of white metals such as silver or nickel as base metal was preferred to symbolize anything related to the darkness of the night, like the skies and the moon, that reflects the aesthetics of these themes. Yellow gold was shunned because the color closely identifies with the sun, which opposes the moon, as proponents see themselves as the children of the night. The color tones for stones and metals and their distinctive intricate designs persisted even if various subgenres of the gothic subculture branched out in the subsequent decades.
The 1990s: The Vampire Chronicles and Victorian Goth
The popularity of movies, such as Francis Ford Coppola's Brahm Stoker's Dracula, Neil Jordan's Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, as well as the popular reception of Anne Rice novels stoked a renewed interest in vampirism, morbidity, and the charm of Victorian fashion in the mainstream. Along with the renewed interest came the popularity of Victorian, and to a lesser extent, steampunk goth, with its fascination with complex mechanical themes traced to Victorian-era technological influences.
The prevalent themes of the time and gothic jewelry designs were associated with the fashion depicted in the movies. The themes adopted in gothic jewelry at this time matched the dark romantic mystique portrayed by vampirism. Vintage 90s pieces seen today are also characterized by the dark and edgy aesthetics that emerged in the 1970s and gained mainstream popularity two decades later, such as chokers, crosses, and various symbols as mentioned earlier. Red stones became more popular as accents because of their close association with blood.
The 2000s: Haute Goth
By the 2000s, famous designers such as Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Hedi Slimane, and Yohji Yamamoto thrust gothic fashion elements onto the runways. Described as "Haute Goth" by Clintra Wison in the New York Times, gothic fashion has penetrated high fashion, which has helped usher in forms of the gothic style to the mainstream.
The 2010s and Onwards: Romantic Goth and the Current State of Goth Jewelry
Romantic goth designs of today are deeply influenced by haute goth and the modern concepts of adopting heritage art styles into refined expressions of femininity as defined by their sophistication, profound symbolism, and beauty. The choices of silver-colored metals, whether shiny or antiqued, black diamonds, and onyx, combined with exquisitely designed lines inspired by gothic architectural themes with belle epoque influences, associate romantic gothic jewelry pieces with the eternal feminine. Fashion is a powerful expression of empowerment and style. For women, contemporary gothic jewelry designs match their need to rediscover their true essence and power.
Other goth variations, such as cybergoth, aristocrat, and steampunk, branched out to match their adherents' musical and cultural tastes. At the same time, traditional goth culture has persisted well into its fifth decade.
Fine Gothic Jewelry Is a Profound Expression, Like the Other Forms of Art That Influences It
Fine gothic jewelry, with its intricate forms and choices of stones and metals, intersects with various art forms, such as music and literature. It is a true reflection of the hearts of their wearers as people who closely identify themselves with darker themes along with the art, such as music and literature, they embrace.
For women today, fine gothic jewelry has evolved into a refined style that has made it more than just beautiful adornments but a powerful way for women to express their power, sensuality, beauty, and the inherent perfection of their souls. The journey to its present form has made gothic jewelry into something deeply emotional that any woman who seeks to rediscover themselves can embrace.