Period Focus: Georgian Jewelry (1714 - 1837)
Weve recently been putting together a focus on the different periods of jewellery and in recent weeks have covered both the Victorian and the Edwardian eras. Going right back to 1714, however, this week were taking a look at the Georgian period, taking a look at the trends and the evolution of jewellery through the years.
Between the years of 1714 and 1837 was a period of political upheaval during the reign of four King Georges. Through this era, however, jewellery became incredibly popular and the time gave birth to a number of trends which grew in popularity right through the following Victorian and Edwardian periods.
During Georgian times, short necklaces were popular amongst women and some of the most desirable pieces included dog collars (chokers), rivieres (these had rows of diamonds or gemstones and multiple cameos which were connected with rows of draped chain.
Diamonds were by far the most popular stone during the Georgian period, however coloured stones including emeralds, rubies and sapphires were also commonly seen within jewellery. New gem cuts including the rose cut and table cut came to light during the era.
If youre trying to identify whether or not jewellery is from the Georgian period, take a look at the mount. More often than not, the stones in Georgian pieces had enclosed backs which were set over a foil. This was seen almost exclusively in this period and can be a great indicator as to the period it comes from.
An Era Of Handmade Pieces
There was no such thing as mass produced or even machined jewellery during the Georgian times and every single piece of jewellery which you see today from the period will have been made by hand. Of course this meant that pieces were expensive due to the time taken to make each bespoke piece and in an attempt to keep up with the quickly increasing demand, jewellers reproduced copies of gemstones and used, in many instances, pinchbeck, a substitute for gold.
A War Time Trade In
During the early 19th century, German citizens were encouraged to trade in their gold pieces of jewellery in return for cast-iron replicas and, believe it or not, this actually became a popular style in the following years. These pieces continued to be made until the mid-19th century and some can still be found today, known as Fer-de-Berlin pieces.
Another common trend during Georgian times was memorial jewellery and funeral scenes quickly became commonplace painted on ivory or even jewellery which was made with locks of hair from a loved one. In addition, bespoke pieces with miniature portraits of loved ones on pendants or brooches were commonly seen and helped to further the popularity of memorial pieces. Of course, the attraction of such jewellery was its personal connection and such items became the most treasured pieces of jewellery for many individuals.
The Rarest Finds
Given the fact that some pieces of Georgian jewellery are now more than 300 years old, they are by far the rarest antique jewellery finds and often some of the most valuable. In many instances, the trends seen through Georgian times paved the way for those which came in the Victoria, Edwardian and even Art Deco periods and, as far as were concerned, its the era which defined what we all know too well as the wider collection of antique jewellery.'