Steampunk jewelry is a little eccentric, very much quirky, and extremely attention-grabbing. It doesn’t look like anything yet it carries a resemblance to a lot of things. But above all things, it is creative, and creativity is somewhat a form of fantasy. Someone likes fantasizing about fairy tales and magical kingdoms, while others dream about robots, intricate gizmos, and airships. If you’re from the latter category, steampunk jewelry is sure to strike the right note.
What is Steampunk Jewelry?
The jewelry trend stemmed from the idea that mankind reached the peak of technological advancement in the second half of the 19th century. People discovered the steam engine and decided to stick to this technology.
Overall, steampunk is a genre of fantasy literature. The term was coined by American science fiction writer Kevin Wayne Jeter in the late 1980s as an ironic take on cyberpunk. Unironically, the term and the genre itself came to the liking of retro-futurists and now we are talking about steampunk as an authentic and self-sufficient trend in literature, visual arts, fashion, and, of course, jewelry.
As you might have already guessed, steampunk is a combination of two words: steam and punk. The first one is clear. Steam is the driving force behind all the retro-futuristic marvels of technology in this alternate universe. Imagine that the end of the 19th century witnessed the creation of St. Paul's Cathedral-sized Babbage engine. The technocratic society is divided into classes and, in addition to believing in God as such, it believes in God in a machine. This machine is controlled by steam, which is the force that moves the universe. Steam locomotives, airships, ATVs, mechanized implants – this is what steam alternative reality is all about.
At the same time, there is also punk in steampunk. This genre emphasizes that the class stratification of society is not just there, but it reached a critical level. Classes are at war with each other, there are rebel wars for a better life and criminal wars for a better place under the sun. The aristocracy and the bourgeoisie are pompous and courteous, the lower classes are poor and dangerous in their desperate struggle for survival. People who live in this world sport these dissimilarities like you would sport your go-to outfit. Leather corsets and steel stiletto vinyl boots go hand in hand with classic crinolines; an evening top hat is a companion to a tattered kilt. Rebellious, punk aesthetics - that's another distinguishing feature of steampunk.
The bottom line is, steampunk is a technocratic alternative that references the social and cultural realities of our world’s 19th century. However, in their way of development, they bet on steam technology, which has taken many shapes and forms, but never evolved into something else. This world has never built internal combustion engines, transistors, or digital devices...
Why has steampunk stuck in the 19th century? An alternative history has an explanation.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, there was a technical revolution. It led England to prosperity and soon enough, it became the mightiest steam power in the world. Gradually, other countries followed suit and embarked on a new path of development.
In our reality, Mr. Smith goes to boxing matches on the weekends. In the steam reality, these are steam robot fights. In real life, a maid brings morning tea to Mrs. Smith. In a steampunk world, this function is given to automatons.
The fashion of this alternative world does not differ much from that of the Victorian era. However, there is an integral element that is present in both male and female attires – gear-praising jewelry and accessories. A self-respecting Victorian steampunk gentleman will put on goggles if he feels like doing it. For example, he may need them to ride his steam-powered car. However, he will not wear goggles everywhere. Simply, because this is bad taste and bad manners, akin to appearing at a ball in a nightgown.
To many steampunk enthusiasts, the Victorian era is only a short period in the development of technocratic society. According to them, around the 1940s of the alternative timeline, the world gradually entered the dieselpunk era.
Steampunk - Past and Future
On the one hand, steampunk is the epitome of the neo-romanticism of the Victorian era. Steampunk fans pay homage to Victorian corsets, top hats, umbrellas, suede gloves featuring wristwatches, pocket watches, frilly necklaces, chunky bracelets and rings, and everything that was in vogue at the turn of the 19th century.
On the other hand, the style applauds antique futurism and bizarre technologies of the alternative reality. You can recognize Steampunk jewelry by its statement elements - springs, gears, nuts, pins, flywheels, dials, bolts, etc. All of these components are boldly put on display so that everyone can enjoy an undeniable accuracy alongside certain romanticism of antique mechanical creations. Sometimes, steampunk jewelry gives us things from our time and age such as cell phones, smart watches, computers, players, flash drives, motherboards, headphones, etc. However, they invariably need to be aged, moved from digital to analog forms, and redesigned so that clockwork could replace chips.
In other words, steampunk is a union of Victorian aesthetics and modernized vintage technology. Every steampunker is nostalgic for an era that was never meant to be. An era where airship travel to the Moon and Mars could be possible.
How Steampunk Jewelry Came to Be
Technological progress is sweeping the Earth by leaps and bounds. Having appeared just yesterday, electronic devices become obsolete by tomorrow. They give way to new inventions. This process seems to have no end. But the essence of the process is not in its transience, but in what remains after it. A large number of mechanisms and parts that have lost their relevance are simply rubbish for a regular Joe. For a designer or a person with great imagination, however, this rubbish is a valuable material, just like metal, wood, or stone. Mechanisms extracted from old gadgets and apparatuses, or assembled from scrap, become the focal point of new amusing trinkets. This is how authentic steampunk jewelry has emerged.
Ode to Materials
The materials for steampunk jewelry are not the usual gold and other precious metals, but rather technological alloys - brass, copper, tin, steel, and sometimes silver. As whimsical successors to the Victorian tradition, these pieces can also feature leather, semi-precious stones (faceted ones and cabochons alike), enamel, beads, pearls, clay, and suchlike things.
When it comes to visual features, it is impossible to imagine steampunk jewelry without gears, bolts, watch parts, lenses, and all this jazz. Many of these elements are authentic and taken from old devices, but it is not uncommon to recreate these familiar shapes for solely decorative purposes.
Virtually any mechanical element can be used as an eye-catcher in steampunk jewelry. It is not particularly important What is taken to create a masterpiece, the main point is How it is utilized and how it is combined with other individual parts. Each and every such adornment tells a unique story. Those who create these masterpieces do not like cookie-cutter designs and repetitive visuals. For them, the main purpose is to give a physical shape to their creative fantasies.
Steampunk jewelry is sophisticated, intricate, handmade, expensive (even though no expensive materials are used), and often exists in only one copy. Not every fan of this style can afford the luxury of artisan jewelry. Bikerringshop offers an amazing alternative. We produce steampunk-inspired jewelry for everyone. These pieces may not have fancy mechanisms that you can wind up like a clock or extend like a spyglass. That being said, they still glorify the mechanical soul of things and the world of wondrous technology we, unfortunately, didn't have a chance to witness. Steampunk jewelry by Bikerringshop is made by hand to preserve the essence of the subculture renowned across the world.
Styles of Steampunk Jewelry
As with any fashion (and jewelry) trend, steampunk can be broken down into several related genres.
Clockwork and exposed gear of clocks are a harmonious and integral part of the steampunk universe. In its purest form, however, this sub-trend exalts the aesthetics of the mechanism. From the standpoint of ckockworkpunk, the art of creating mechanical gizmos must be brought to absolute perfection. Every device that can be imagined in a mechanical form should be made this way. A mechanical computer powered by gears and springs, anyone? Or how about a clockwork guitar?
Sailpunk is literally a marriage of Pirates of the Caribbean and Mortal Engines. In a world divided by class stratification, only the sky is free of oppression. It becomes a new ocean. It is home to pirates, epic battles, and whimsical ships that sail the skies. There are flying islands and treasures hidden somewhere among clouds. All these motifs separate sailpunk from its counterparts.
Now imagine Lord of the Rings in the Van Helsing setting and you’ll get the idea of fantasy steampunk. Elves hung with intricate gears and crossbones, dirigible-like dragons, and magic driven by science – these are the three pillars of this world.
There are also varieties of steampunk such as Westpunk, where the Victorian England setting is replaced by the Wild West. There is no place for Victorian chic and romanticism. Instead, brute force and masculinity dominate this world. Steam-powered and heavily mechanized revolvers and shotguns are the hallmark of the substyle. Also, don't be surprised to see robot horses with exposed clockwork designs, or wagons propelled by a steam engine. Steampunk is basically Westworld going retro.
Another curious sub-trend is post-apocalyptic steampunk. In this world, the remnants of civilization are forced to fight for scarce resources. There are no more factories producing thousands of shiny gears. All that is left is rusted, bent, and broken. Self-taught engineers are desperately trying to bring back to life these old parts and mechanisms. The other prominent motif is survival. Protective suits, gas masks, and armor are all integral elements of this world.
Who Wears Steampunk Jewelry
Steampunk jewelry is the choice of those who are determined to stand out from the crowd. Who can do it better than cosplayers? A girl in a long dress with a dozen petticoats, a top hat, a leather corset, metal rims instead of a bracelet, and an eye patch is exactly the character who flaunts steampunk. Gear earrings and a steam engine pendant are perfect complements for her style.
But there is also a fundamentally different type of steampunk enthusiasts. This, for example, can be a young mother who pushes a stroller with her newborn through a park. She is dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, has a tight ponytail and a ring on her finger. But instead of a precious stone, it displays an exposed clock mechanism. Or it can be a guy in a business suit driving a fancy car. He looks like an Average Joe, except for one thing - a winged gear-adorned cockade pendant around his neck.
How to Wear Steampunk Jewelry
Steampunk jewelry is not something you see on the shelves of mainstream stores. Nevertheless, the moment one of these trinkets catches the eye, you cannot help but wonder: “How to wear it?” In fact, the answer is as simple as it gets. You can use steampunk jewelry as any other trinket to spruce up your look but you can’t go overboard with it. Choose only one statement piece and it will suffice to make a splash. The rest of the body can be either jewelry-free or featuring minimalistic pieces with coordinating colors.The most versatile piece of steampunk jewelry is a watch showcasing its mechanism. It shouldn’t necessarily be a real watch. A pendant or ring imitating its appearance will do as well. Such watches will be relevant both in an office space and casual environment. The main thing is to choose the right size of the accessory because you don’t want it to be overwhelming. Other pieces of steampunk jewelry (bracelets, earrings, necklaces, etc.) will look fascinating when combined with an evening outfit, especially if you choose a nice vintage evening gown instead of a trendy dress