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Quite rare and most surviving jewelry from this period is handmade, typically with 18kt gold and silver. One distinguishing factor of Georgian jewelry is that the jewelry was made to suit the stones that were available which explains the many different shapes & sizes of the stones within a single piece. Due to expensive gold prices of the time, most diamonds were set in silver backed with gold in order to keep the silver from tarnishing. Rose-cut & table-cut diamonds were used as well as sapphires, garnets, precious topaz and amethyst. Many designs of this era included floral, bows, and scrolling motifs.
Edward VII, who was Queen Victoria's son, had taken the throne at this time. Society was at its height of elegance and sophistication which allowed advances for jewelry fabrication in platinum. Due to the strength of this metal, jewelers were able to produce more intricate, detailed pieces and the use of as many diamonds as possible was essential, since diamonds were the gemstone of choice. Other stones also seen were sapphire, aquamarine and electric green demantoid garnets from Russia, which are the rarest and most valuable garnets. During the Edwardian era, jewelry was light, delicate, feminine and classy and the common wardrobe for women was WHITE. Another technique that was greatly used was "milgraining", which entails a small border of platinum beads set around the edge of particular piece, giving it an even softer look. Unfortunately, the start of WWl in 1914, quickly ended this era as platinum became scarce due to the demand for its use in the war effort.
Art Deco (1915-1935)
The Art Deco era "Roaring Twenties" was a high-spirited era of gangsters, flappers, and speakeasies, better known as night clubs. Women wore multiple bracelets on one wrist and long pearl necklaces which was complimentary to theflapper generation. Styles became bolder, sharper and more masculine than in previous periods, emphasizing on geometric and symmetric designs. Lines were straight and linear and gemstone shapes were often "calibre cut" which referred to faceted stones that were custom cut in order to line up perfectly not to allow any gaps against other similarly cut stones or the setting. This technique was used to enhance the otherwise diamond-centric jewelry. During this era, advancements in cutting techniques allowed diamonds to become more dazzling and sparkling which gave birth to the modern round brilliant cut style diamond. Although platinum was still the metal; of choice, jewelers began using white gold, making more affordable. Known designers during this era were Tiffany, Cartier, Van Cleef & Alpels, Harry Winston, Lalique and Mauboussin etc.
Named for Queen Victoria, who inherited the throne of England. Victorian jewelry design was influenced by historical & cultural events. Serpents and ancient symbols of eternal love were popular motifs. Cameos made of materials like onyx, coral, lava, agate and hardshell were made into rings, brooches, and bracelets reflecting European fascination with the ancient cultures. Since body covering fashion was worn during this era, elaborate hair ornaments, brooches and numerous bracelets made of hair, gemstones, enamel and gold were in style.
After losing her husband, the Queen adopted a rigid dress code of mourning which included jewelry made of black material such as, jet, black glass and black onyx, some even crafted with hair from the deceased. Amethysts were often worn surrounded by seed pearl borders which was believed to protect the wearer and bring good luck. Bloodstone was also popular and believed to preserve health, where coral was thought to ward off evil. Jewelry from this era is known for the expressing sensibility and love, or darker sentiments.
Art Nouveau (1895-1915)
This period overlapped the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The mood of Art Nouveau jewelry is soft, mystical and romantic with pale colors and flowing wave like curves. Although this era was short lived, it produced the most sought after jewelry in the world. During this time jewelers were influenced by depictions of nature for inspiration, ranging from orchids, irises to snakes, dragonflies, butterflies and the occasional nude female form which was considered scandalous by conservatives. Art Nouveau jewelers emphasized on hand-craftsmanship, creativity and design using the art for a sensual natural look and soft colored gemstones like moonstone, opal, amethyst, amber, agate, citrine and peridot while diamonds were used sparingly as accent stones during this artistic period.
The recovery from the stock market crash followed by the great depression in the late 1930's became Hollywood's "Golden Age" where in the midst of hard times women sought jewelry that was extraordinary eye-catching, big and bold known as "cocktail Jewelry". The oversized highly polished Retro jewelry like wide bracelets, dress clips and earrings were distinguished by curved designs and feminine motifs such as bows, ribbons, ruffles and flowers. Due to the scarce supply of platinum again, because of WWll in 1941, gold became the metal of choice. This time jewelers experimented with new alloys and mixed gold with silver and copper creating beautiful shades of rose and green. Large emerald cut semi-precious gemstones such as, amethyst, aquamarine and citrine were popular while diamonds were used as accents along with calibre cut rubies and sapphires. Known designers of this era were Verdura, Oscar Heyman, Buccellati and William Russer etc.
The Mid 20th Century, post WW ll, was a time of great economic growth and prosperity in America. Platinum, once again, became the metal of choice for diamond jewelry. Classic glamour jewelry design focusing on diamonds prompted the famous slogans "A Diamond is Forever" (De Beers 1948) and "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" (Marilyn Monroe 1953) Designs of this era were more light and textural with engraved finishes and braided rope accents. Popular trends were long dangling earrings, cultured pearl chokers and ropes of heavy beads. Jewelry was also purchased in matching sets, both fine and costume. Known designers of this era were Harry Winston, Bvlgari, Piaget and Graff etc.