Georgian Era-style jewellery
The Georgian Era refers to the period between 1714 and 1837, when Kings George I, II, III, and IV reigned in England. Jewellery during this period was almost exclusively worn by the wealthy and royalty, giving this style a regal and luxurious elegance. Georgian Era-style jewellery was, for the most part, made by hand, which gave jewellers the ability to create gorgeous pieces with extremely ornate metalwork. The pieces are truly works of art and it is not difficult to see why only the wealthy could afford to adorn themselves with this style of jewellery.
A popular feature of this era’s jewellery was closed-back settings. Gemstones were mounted with metal covering the back so that the gem was only visible from one side. A foil was often used to reflect light and enhance or change the gemstone’s colouring.
As the Georgian Era covered a large period of time, one can imagine the style evolved. Early on, the symmetry and excess ornateness of Baroque style was popular. Later, Rococo style emerged with light, asymmetrical lines. Then Roman and Greek symbolism gained popularity, with laurel and grape leaves the most favoured motifs. After that, Egyptian motifs were desired during a fad of the Georgian Era when pyramids and papyrus leaves were heavily depicted. Even cast iron jewellery became fashionable at one point! The Germans gave their gold jewellery in an effort to support the war against Napoleon and, in return, were rewarded with cast iron replicas.
The gemstones used also evolved over this large period. Diamonds were the most favoured toward the beginning of the era, but coloured stones, such as sapphires, emeralds, and rubies, increasingly gained popularity as the era progressed. Naturally, diamonds never faded out of fashion.
Jewellers during this time experimented with new cuts, including the rose cut, tear drop cut, and table cut, which were highly regarded in Georgian-style jewellery. Chokers with a row of diamonds or other gemstones were a staple of Georgian style; as were riviere necklaces, especially in the form of multiple cameos connected by rows of draped chain. Bracelets were worn in pairs and pear-shaped dangling earrings were all the rage.
Among the most interesting of Georgian-style jewellery was the memorial jewellery. This included pendants with funeral scenes, jewellery made out of a loved one’s lock of hair, mini portraits of lovers, and, very fashionable at the time, lover’s eye lockets. The lover’s eye locket is just that, a locket with a painting of your lover’s eye.
A rare beauty
Although this period spanned for more than a century, there is little Georgian-style jewellery that has survived to present. It was not mass-produced, since only the wealthy wore jewellery, and much of it was later recycled by jewellers and only the valuable components were used. Because of this, Georgian-style jewellery is very rare. Most of what exists today is in the form of rings and brooches, with necklaces and earrings being even more rare.