The Georgian Era from 1714 to 1830
The Georgian era is named after the British Kings George I, George II, and George III, spanning from 1714 up to 1830. During this era, jewellery was predominantly worn by the upper classes and aristocracy and is more about the size and cut of the stones, rather than the intricacy and beauty of the jewellery itself. There was a strong Napoleonic influence in the early 1800s, but during the French Revolution it was unacceptably bourgeois which contradicted the revolutionary principles. Much of the jewellery at the time was owned by aristocracy and at the end of the 18th century was broken up and sold, which makes what did survive highly collectable.
The Victorian Era 1837 to 1901
The Victorian era was named after the British monarch, Queen Victoria, and it is said that the style of jewellery at the time often reflected the tone of current events. Such as after the death of Prince Albert in 1861, mourning jewellery became popular with pieces, especially brooches, that would contain hair of the deceased often woven in intricate patterns. Gemstones such as jet, black onyx and other dark stones became popular thanks to mourning jewellery. Before the death of Prince Albert, romantic themes were strong in jewellery, hearts, bows, birds and flowers were seen. Serpents were a symbol of eternal love, show in various styles of bangles and rings.
Art Nouveau Era 1880 to 1910
The Art Nouveau era did not last for very long, but it did have a big impact on jewellery design which can still be seen today, there were many daring themes. The era is famous for getting inspiration from nature also for using new types of material such as horn, copper, or shell. The popular gemstones for this era were freshwater pearls, amethyst, amber, opal, and citrine. At this time diamonds were used more as a supporting role to the other gemstones.
Art Deco Era 1920 to 1939
Within this era, symmetry was embraced which is reflected in the geometric designs that became popular during this time. Blocks of colour, bold decisive gemstones were used such as turquoise, onyx and coral. Bigger and brighter stones were also used during this era with Burmese rubies and sapphires, and Colombian emeralds that were cut into sleek geometric shapes. The 1920s, line bracelets were in demand, starting off narrow and pretty, or featuring articulated ribbons with bows, to being more broad, heavier and more angular in style by the 1930s. The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s beautifully designed and decorated death mask became the inspiration for many Parisian jewellers when Howard Carter discovered it in 1922.
Edwardian Era 1901 to 1915
During the Edwardian era, the most popular materials that were used for jewellery are diamonds, platinum, as well as pearls. The style was thought to be the epitome of sophistication with its white on white design. The jewellery designers of the time would often look at Ancient Greek, Roman, and Napoleonic art for inspiration when designing their jewellery. The term “Belle Epoque” embraces Edwardian jewellery with light, feminine designs, such as swags, bows, hearts, sprays of leaves and flowerheads. This era showed fine intricate workmanship that could be achieved from using platinum.
Retro Era 1939 to 1950
The retro era is a more recent one, some of the jewellery that was created in this time is also known as cocktail jewellery. With films being extremely popular during this time, the demand for Hollywood style fashion also grew. Jewellery making was interrupted in the 1940s, due to World War II, precious metals were rare, so palladium was used instead of platinum, low carat gold alloy with copper was used giving a rose tinge to the gold. Gold was worked in many ways, mixing the different colours of gold, it was woven, braided and knotted. Many of the stones that were used were oversized giving a playful feel. Synthetic and simulant gemstones were used at this time due to limitations around the war, many natural gemstones were large giving a playful design, aquamarine, citrine, amethyst and topaz provided a wide range of hues.