Georgian Period Jewelry

Some would argue that Estate, Vintage and Antique and Period jewelry are interchangeable terms; however, these people haven’t done their homework. Antique refers to pieces over 100 years old, Period refers to pieces produced within defining and historically classified years, and Vintage includes pieces from periods past, while estate could be any of the aforementioned. That being said, estate jewelry spans over various eras many named and identified with monarchs of England. We would like to introduce you to some of these eras.

To get you started on your journey through history, here are some facts about the Georgian Period that helped shape jewelry design elements of the time.

  • The Georgian period consists of the time period between 1714 and 1837 during the reigns of the four English kings named George and one named William.
  • Short necklaces were popular and some of the most desirable styles included choker, and rivieras (large graduated or single line necklaces), which had a row of diamonds or gemstones,  also necklaces featuring multiple cameos connected by rows of draped chain were popular.
  • During the early Georgian period, diamonds were the most desirable stone, but colored stones, such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, were later back in fashion and the most popular gem cuts were rose cut and table cut.
  • One way to determine if a jewelry item is Georgian is by the mount; stones were set with enclosed backs and were frequently set over a foil.
  • Jewelry was created by hand and to keep up with the rising demand for imitation “paste” gemstones and an alternative metal to gold known as Pinchbeck (a copper and zinc alloy resembling gold) allowed for production of pieces that had a similar look to fine jewelry but were more affordable and the materials were more readily available.
  • German citizens donated their gold jewelry to the war effort in the early 19th century and in exchange were given cast-iron replicas of their jewelry. This became a popular style and cast-iron jewelry continued to be made until the mid-19th century. Those early iron replicas, known as Fer-de-Berlin, are highly collectible today.
  • Memorial jewelry, or mourning jewelry, was common during this period. For example, funeral scenes painted on ivory and jewelry made with locks of hair from a loved one were common. Ladies often wore miniature portraits of their loved ones as pendants.

Factors like the war, gemstone supply, and materials availability highly influenced the styles seen during the Georgian period. Stay tuned! Next week we will delve into the defining characteristics of Victorian period jewelry.

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