Book chain necklaces are those charming jewelry chains, often composed of pure gold or sterling silver. This type of necklace originally got its popularity during the Victorian Era, and to this day remains a sought-after jewelry piece.
You can easily spot a book chain necklace a mile away. Their signature design is characterized by a chain with links shaped like books, hence the name.
If you are an antique jewelry collector or an enthusiast of neo-Victorian jewelry; then book chain necklaces should be part of your collection. Each piece’s stunning patterns and precise workmanship fully depict the sensation of an early era when exquisite craftsmanship was the norm.
1835 To 1901 – The Victorian Book Chain Jewelry
The Victorian era is a timeline filled with industrial innovations like the telegraph, the boom of modern railways, the invention of the telephone, and the publishing of Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, among others. Jewelry was also elevated. It was at this time when book chain necklaces and bracelets got their popularity.
This era is divided into three time periods. First, there is the early Romantic era, which is steeped in heritage, with natural designs in gold and silver, clear stones worn only during the day, and colorful jewels at night. The early Victorian book chain necklaces were substantial and often features hanging amulet pendants or lockets.
The second phase is known as the Grand or Mourning period, and it begins with the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband. Victoria was heartbroken by this loss, and her jewelry during this period of sorrow contained a lot of black onyx, amethyst, garnet, jet, and gold. Book chain jewelry was also affected and embraced darker gems as adornments.
This continued until the 1880s when the jewelry aesthetic era started. The Late Victorians used more warm motifs and feminine patterns, returning to nature, including various floral and heavenly designs, with more opulent stones including here diamonds, ruby, sapphire, and zircon. Intricate artistic details like scrollwork or engraved filigrees were the elements that gave the Victorian book chain jewelry designers their reputation for elegance.
Late Victorian Book Chain Necklace
This statement piece from the Late Victorian era comes with a gothic undertone and unmatched chunkiness that you will simply love. It is made of sterling silver with a high shine finish and is adorned throughout with patterns of stars and diamonds. Should you wish, the oversized bolt ring allows you to add a pendant or charm to the necklace which can be worn facing the front. It is indeed a unique piece of the past and it will certainly make a perfect addition to a dressy outfit.
1890 To 1905 – The Art Nouveau Book Chain Jewelry
Book chain necklaces made during the Art Nouveau era featured a reaction against 19th-century eclecticism and historicism. Instead, these pieces of jewelry came with more vivid and liberal patterns, often characterized by natural shapes, such as floral motifs. This short-lived form of art, which was interrupted by the outbreak of World War 1, became synonymous with the sensation of movement and vitality. In addition to floral designs, expect to find also animals, birds, and even the female body as popular themes used to adorn the book chains during this duration.
Vintage Art Nouveau Book Chain Necklace
Staying true to its name, this book chain necklace from the 1920s comes adorned with floral motifs that distinguish the Art Nouveau jewelry. It is a versatile piece for your collection, and will most certainly bring an elegant lure to your outfit. The necklace is worked in detail, featuring filigree patterns and milgrain edges. You can either wear it alone or add a pendant or locket at the front, to make it an even more exciting jewelry piece.
1925 to 1945 – The Art Deco Book Chain Jewelry
Another short-lived art form, Art Deco, was also a host of book chain jewelry. During this time, the book chains were characterized by elegant and sharp designs shown in accordance with geometrical themes. The geometric designs, often characterized by straight lines and precision cut gemstones, were also integrated into book chain necklaces and bracelets. These pieces of jewelry were made up of a range of forms with geometric shapes, which helped to streamline the contemporary and elevated spirit of that new era, following the end of World War 1.
Different from book chains made during the Victorian or Art Noveau eras, the Art Deco era witnessed a focus on a selection of expensive metals, with 14k yellow gold, white gold, sterling silver, and even platinum, becoming more preferred. Necklaces evolved shorter, like bib necklaces or a fringe, different from the Victorian era when they were larger and significantly more substantial.
Art Deco Book Chain Necklace
As an eye-catching necklace it is, this Art Deco book chain will most certainly make an impact. The silver-tone book chain is accented with nine vibrant blue droplets. They appear to be crystals, but they are actually Lucite, making the necklace lighter to wear.
Modern Book Chain Jewelry – Trends And Style Suggestions
Today, this distinguishing type of necklace is not entirely forgotten, courtesy of many world-renowned designers that from time to time reinvent these trends but with a modern twist. Indeed fashion is cyclical, and book chain necklaces and bracelets keep repeating themselves and bringing a new style and timeless aesthetic every time. Check the following vintage Victorian necklaces and bracelets styling tips:
- More is always preferable. Feel free to combine your book chain bracelet with other bracelets or bangles. This will make it just more fascinating and pieces can complement each other by adding contrast and pop colors.
- Wear your book chain necklace with a pendant, charm, or locket at the front. This will make it an even more exciting piece.
- Combine pearls with gold. Although it might appear overwhelming, this combo is a perfect addition to a solid color dress or blouse.
- Create new and unique jewelry combinations by mixing a vintage silver book chain necklace with a gold necklace of another texture and scale.
Telltale Signs To Identify Authentic Book Chain Jewelry
When hunting for antique or vintage jewelry, the buying experience is as thrilling as the piece itself. You never know what you will find in a thrift store, antique shop, or on the internet. It kinda feels like searching for hidden treasures.
Therefore, if you too are looking for antique or vintage book chain jewelry, with some luck, and after following our recommendations, you can find some genuine, authentic Victorian book chains. To specify first, antique pieces of jewelry are considered all those items that are more than 100 years old. If the piece is newer, say, between 50 and 100 years old, it is considered vintage. Both: vintage and antique book chain necklaces and other types of jewelry are valuable, often desired for their exclusivity and intricate workmanship.
What Should You Look For In Vintage Or Antique Book Chain Jewelry?
- Evidence Of Authenticity Can Be Found By Examining The Piece In Detail
Check if the book chain comes with handcrafted techniques from the Edwardian or Victorian eras. In comparison with the modern machine-manufactured replicas, the authentic book chain jewelry features intricate artwork. Expect to find exquisite jewelry-making techniques like cameo or filigree.
- Know The Typical Designs Of Book Chain Jewelry
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is easy to spot the signature design of book chain jewelry a mile away. Conventional designs of this intricate jewelry technique include the following:
Characteristics Of Book Chain Necklaces During the Victorian Era:
- Necklaces characterized by a chain with links shaped like books and adorned with cameo or filigree artworks.
- Chain chokers and lockets necklaces.
- Chain drop necklaces with drops resembling the modern y-necklace design.
- Chokers with gemstones or necklaces with artistic gemstone pendants.
Characteristics Of Book Chain Necklaces During the Art Deco Era:
- Necklace with brass frame and alternating brass ball and acorn drops.
- A short brass fringe necklace with hanging red coral beads and foliage motifs.
- Bib necklace with gold book chains and adorned with pearl dangles.
- A choker necklace that is made of alternating gold book links with emerald cut green rhinestones.
- Check The Metals And Gemstones
The majority of vintage book chain jewelry pieces came with a myriad of metals and gemstones. Initially, the most popular metals used for book chains were brass, gold-plated metal, pure gold, or copper. Platinum and sterling silver also became popular alternatives during the Art Deco era.
Depending on your preferences, it is up to you to whether choose an authentic book chain necklace or opt for a Victorian-inspired design with a modern twist. Either way, book chain jewelry will make a perfect addition to your jewelry collection.