Guide Through The Eras
Take A Trip Through The Different Eras Of Jewellery
For generations jewellery has been dominated both by the aesthetic tastes and skilled craftsmanship of the time and of course the socio-political backdrop of the moment. Our guide through the era gives an outline of the most recognisable styles, stones and jewellery motifs of the period from 1714 to the present day.
Defined as a period of flamboyant fashion spliced with societal upheavals (French and American revolutions for example) skilled goldsmiths excelled in working with diamonds, often in clusters around larger stones. Typical to the Georgian period are stacking rings and diamond rivières (‘rivers of light’). As a result of the excellent craftsmanship of this period jewellery in perfect condition remains in existence to this day.
Gold is not as hard wearing as platinum and is susceptible to being scratched. Wearing similar carat weight gold together will cause the least possible harm. Chlorine can damage gold and therefore we advise not to wear whilst swimming. Polish your gold using a soft, lint free cloth.
Belle Epoque (1871 – 1914)
Belle Époque, or the ‘beautiful era’, incorporates three distinct design periods – Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and the Edwardian. The “Beautiful Era” was a time of prosperity and flourishing arts. Ladies dressed exquisitely – evening dress included lightweight chiffons and silks with elaborate beadwork and low neckline – ideal for showcasing the jewels of this era. Diamonds, platinum and natural pearls typify this era.
Art Nouveau (1890-1915)
The jewellery found during the Art Nouveau period is typified by the fluid, decorative movement of the time, inspired by free-flowing curves, bright colours and patterns found in nature. Nature scenes including insects (such as dragonflies), flowers, snakes and lizards were typical. Jewels including Opals, Moonstone, Ivory, Enamel were all used with Rene Lalique becoming one of the most prolific artisans of the period.
Arts & Crafts (1890 – 1910)
A period in which artisans rebuffed the rise of machine-made jewellery and returned to traditional techniques. Jewellery tended to be simple, cabochon gems (shaped and polished gems) and hand painted enamel were common features. Ultimately the era was short lived as handmade jewellery was highly priced and on the whole it sat in opposition to the aesthetic that typified the tastes and fashion of the time.
Edwardian (1901 – 1914)
The reign of King Edward VII (1901-1910) oversaw a period considered to be both elegant and sophisticated offering a much more traditional and restrained style of jewellery in comparison to the Art Nouveau and Arts and Craft periods. Queen Alexandra set the trend and therefore jewellery was both fine and delicate. Diamonds took centre stage often set in intricate filigree patterns and lace-effect platinum which perfectly mirrored the high fashion of the day. Other coloured gemstones of the Edwardian era include Amethyst, Aquamarine, Emerald, Garnet, Moonstone, Opal, Pearl, Peridot, Ruby, and Sapphire. Motifs most often represented include bows, crescent moons with stars, flowers, horseshoes, shamrocks, sporting themes, and wishbones. This era saw the rise of chokers and pearl “chains” which hung all the way to the waist.
Art Deco (1920-1935)
Moving away entirely from the fluid shapes in the Art Nouveau period – Art Deco jewellery can be imagined as bold geometric shapes, clean lines with simple, elegant and practical designs. Striking new colour and stone combinations became popular including coral and onyx set with diamonds, lapis lazuli and agate.
Vintage Retro (1940s)
Jewellery of this period was bolder, larger and more colourful than in previous times. With the World Wars behind them the focus shone on novelty and colour with less emphasis on the elegance of pre-war jewellery. Coloured gold comes back into fashion ( a scarcity of platinum following the war) and motifs drew heavily on patricotc themes, flowers and bows.
Vintage Glamour (1950s)
Twisted and braided gold from the artisans in Florence came into fashion with pearls frequently worn as day jewellery. Parures became fashionable – matching earrings, necklace and bracelets – to mirror the cop-ordinated aesthetic of the outfits of the time. Bold colours such as coral and turquoise are also worn more frequently (revived from the 20’s) and costume jewellery to mirror the Hollywood starlet came into fashion. Outfits were accessories by brooches and for evening attire a Rhinestone sparkle was a must.
Vintage (1960s and 1970’s)
A period marked by huge social change – jewellery from the 60’s onwards encapsulates the liberated movement of colours and exploration, utilising gemstones and metals from around the world. Designers began to experiment with less expensive components such as plastic allowing for jewellery to become more accessible to a wide range of women. The art scene – most notably the Pop art movement – had a strong impact on the aesthetic seeing bold colour combinations and statement shapes reflected in the jewellery of this time.
Modern (1980 – 2000)
The 80’s embraced larger than life jewellery – both precious metals, stones and costume. The Fashion of this time was bold and the jewellery matched this theme. Gold was a popular colour and the rise of gold plate meant more women were able to accent their clothing with statement pieces. Pearls also came into fashion again – of varying sizes and colours in bunches and with the ends tied in knots. Bold statement brooches also saw a rise in popularity.
Contemporary (2000 onwards)
Today’s artisans draw from the wealth of the historical craftsmanship and techniques that preceded them with a nod to modern sculptural and design techniques.
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