Have you ever fallen in love with a vintage or an antique ring, necklace or earrings and wondered when it came from?
Here are some tips to help you decide which era your perfect jewellery comes from.
Georgian: 1714 -1830
During the reign of four consecutive monarchs named George (I - IV), large luxurious pieces and layering of pendants and bracelets became a thing.
Think, rings on every finger.
A surge in availability of coloured gemstones brought along “Harlequin” brooches and rings, which consisted of several colourful gems.
There was also an increase in popularity of sentimental jewellery with engraved messages and portrait miniatures given to friends and loved ones.
Jewellery sets also known as “parure” typically consisted of at least four matching pieces: necklace, earrings, brooch and bracelet.
If you were lucky, it also came with a matching tiara!
Victorian: 1837 - 1901
Victorian jewellery lived and breathed nature, incorporating flowers, birds and insects.
Queen Victoria received a snake ring from Prince Albert on their engagement, making serpents (a symbol of rebirth and protection) another favoured theme for jewellery.
During this romantic period, receiving jewellery that spelled out secret messages with gemstones was the ultimate token of love and appreciation.
"Acrostic rings" contained gemstones that corresponded to the letters of the alphabet to spell out a name or message.
D - diamond
E - emerald
A - amethyst
R - ruby
E - emerald
S - sapphire
T - topaz
After the death of Queen Victoria's husband, Albert, mourning jewellery took over (although it did already exist during the Georgian era).
Black gemstones such as onyx and jet as well as dark garnets complemented morbid motifs of skulls and skeletons, along with the popular cameos and “hair jewellery” (literally, jewellery crafted from human hair!)
Eventually, the jewellery scene brightened up leaving behind mourning jewellery.
Designs became smaller and lighter and primarily used semi-precious gems such as amethyst and opal, with large diamonds reserved for evening wear.
Oh, La Belle Époque!
Formal and traditional, elaborate but delicate, ornate and refined.
Lighthearted, lacey designs, with ribbons, wreaths, bow knots and tassels. Millegrain and filigree surrounding (mainly) pastel coloured gemstones.
Light and airy brooches and pendants detached from larger pieces and were fastened to ribbon style chokers and diamond “dog collars” (already popular in France since 1860s).
Hands didn't go unnoticed, stacks of rings adorned each finger up to the knuckle.
Monochromatic look of platinum, diamonds and pearls allowed the combination of different jewellery designs over perfectly matching suites of Georgian era.
Art Nouveau: 1890 - 1910
Overlapping Victorian and Edwardian era, Art Nouveau protested against Industrial Revolution and pursued the idea that “art should be a way of life”.
A break away from mass produced jewellery, a fusion of realism and fantasy followed.
Czech painter, Alphonse Mucha created wonderful theatrical posters (personally, I'm a big fan!) and René Lalique brought to life stunning perfume bottle, vases as well as jewellery.
Whimsical celebration of femininity and metamorphosis brought fairies, nymphs and mermaids to jewellery designs as well as other mythological creatures.
Dragonflies, butterflies and beetles were among the favourites and required colourful execution.
Enamel appeared in various vibrant colours, suggesting a move away from colourless diamonds.
Pastel colours added dreamlike quality to the designs with organic gems such as Baroque pearls, coral and amber.
Art Deco: 1915-1935
Imagine magnificent cocktail rings, piles of bracelets and ropes of pearls.
Long elaborate earrings accentuated short bobs, ever so popular with the independent, working women and flapper girls of the Roaring 20s.
It was time to explore straight lines, geometric shapes and abstract designs.
This experimentation phase also brought along the most popular diamond cut, the Round Brilliant (hooray!) designed by a Belgian engineer, Marcel Tolkowsky, in 1919.
Then, in 1922, Egypt and its secrets became of great interest after the discovery of tomb of Tutankhamun.
Pharaohs, sphinxes and scarabs all gained popularity among jewellery motifs. India was another source of inspiration with its colourful gemstone combinations winning interest of jewellery lovers.
Have you discovered your favourite era?
Weather you enjoy the big and flashy or subtle and delicate...
... coloured gemstones or diamonds (or both!) I would love to hear about it.
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