Beyond the Binary: A History of Gender Non-conformity in Jewellery

Beyond the Binary: A History of Gender Non-conformity in Jewellery

Jewellery has long served as a powerful means of self-expression and identity, transcending the boundaries of gender and societal expectations. For those seeking to celebrate their individuality and embrace a more inclusive approach to adornment, antique and vintage jewellery offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of gender non-conformity. In this blog post, we will explore the ways in which jewellery has challenged and redefined gender norms throughout history, inspiring contemporary LGBTQIA+ identifying people and allies in their quest for unique and meaningful pieces.

  1. Ancient Civilisations: Embracing Universal Adornment

Many ancient civilisations, including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, featured jewellery that was not confined to gender-specific roles. People adorned themselves with rings, necklaces, and bracelets, often featuring similar designs and materials. These early societies recognised the universal appeal of jewellery, embracing its ability to enhance beauty and convey status, regardless of gender.

  1. The Renaissance Era: Subverting Expectations

During the Renaissance period, societal norms surrounding gender and adornment began to shift. Despite these changing attitudes, many individuals sought to express themselves through jewellery that defied traditional expectations. For example, people of all genders wore signet rings, which symbolised power and authority. These rings serve as a reminder that, even in times of evolving gender roles, there were individuals who embraced a more inclusive approach to adornment.

  1. The Georgian and Victorian Eras: Sentimental and Symbolic Jewellery

The Georgian and Victorian periods saw a rise in sentimental and symbolic jewellery, often worn as tokens of love and affection. Although some pieces were marketed towards specific genders, many designs featured motifs and themes that held universal appeal, such as hearts, flowers, and serpents. This shared symbolism allowed people of all genders to connect with and appreciate these meaningful treasures.

  1. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco Movements: Challenging Gender Stereotypes

The Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements introduced innovative designs that challenged traditional gender norms. Art Nouveau jewellery, with its organic forms and sensual motifs, often blurred the lines between masculine and feminine aesthetics. The Art Deco period, with its bold geometric shapes and streamlined designs, offered a modern and androgynous approach to adornment. These movements encouraged individuals to explore their own unique style, regardless of societal expectations.

  1. The 20th Century and Beyond: Celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity

Throughout the 20th century and into the present day, the lines between gender-specific jewellery have continued to blur, with an increasing emphasis on individual expression and inclusivity. Contemporary jewellers and designers draw inspiration from the rich history of gender non-conformity in jewellery, creating pieces that cater to the diverse tastes and identities of the LGBTQIA+ community. As a result, antique and vintage jewellery now offers a wealth of options for those looking to embrace a more inclusive approach to adornment.


The history of gender non-conformity in jewellery demonstrates that self-expression and individuality have always held a vital place in the world of adornment. From ancient civilisations to contemporary designs, people have sought to defy societal expectations and celebrate their unique identities through their choice of jewellery. Antique and vintage pieces offer a treasure trove of inspiration for an inclusive everyone, providing a meaningful connection to the past and a celebration of diversity and inclusivity in the present.

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