The Edwardian era in jewelry got its name from the English King Edward the 7th. In history, it is one of the most distinct periods in jewelry and fashion - best characterized through its own unique design styles and traits that set it apart from many periods in history. The innovative and luxurious approach of this era took place from 1901 to 1915.
Society at this time was at the height of elegance and sophistication and the jewelry pieces complemented women of high class. Women were always dressed completely and delighted in having jewelers make sure that their pieces perfectly complemented their attire.
King Edward was an influential leader who liked wearing lavish clothing and jewels - even more- o than his mother and the ladies surrounding his throne. Together with his beautiful Queen Alexandra, he was always looking forward to new jewelry pieces and signature works.
Gems were increasingly popular during this era - almost as popular as diamonds and pearls. Aside from gems, moonstones and opals were also worn by women. Queen Alexandra was particularly known for her diamond and pearl tiaras and ‘dog collars’ as well as the long strands of pearls which were wrapped loosely around her neck. The Queen favored lavish 18th century themes of garlands, bows, ribbons, wreaths, tassels and lace.
The hallmark of Edwardian jewelry was the platinum which enabled intricate lace-like design because of its strength. The diamonds and precious gems were also cut to look delicate and ethereal in contrast to diamonds in earlier jewelry design.
Cartier was the favorite jewelry brand of the King and Queen. Because of platinum, it was possible to create intricate and lightweight versions of all jewelry objects. There were also some filigree pieces that imitated lacey and embroidered silks. Women favored light and airy fabrics in pastel colors - and Edwardian jewelry had to be lightweight to be worn on the new and delicate fabrics.
The elegant lifestyle of Edward and Queen Alexandra made this period known as the “Belle Epoch” or “Belle Epoque”. It established an international high society for all people who found fine jewelry a requisite part of the dress code. Even though the style of the Edwardian jewelry was best worn by the English royal families, it also influenced the fine French jewelry houses - hence the name “Belle Epoque”.
In contrast to the concurrent styles of jewelry design, the Edwardian jewelry design was understated and highly feminine in style. Design and craftsmanship were valued by jewelers in the Edwardian, Art Nouveau, and Arts and Crafts movements while the materials differed. Edwardian combined pearls, diamonds, platinum and other precious materials.
Mourning jewelry was also part of the Edwardian era as a result of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. White and black became the colors of mourning just as they were in the Victorian period. The mourning jewelry was made of platinum and onyx and was popular until World War I. With the war approaching platinum was repurposed towards the manufacture of weapons and the element was no longer available for jewelry.
The Edwardian era jewelry gained popularity in society. Rings usually featured a large center diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds or sapphires on the side or as a halo. There were many beautiful and intricate filigree designs which were loved by high class women.
Edwardian ring styles continued to be popular in following eras because of the elongated designs with diamonds in open work settings. The ethereal look and uniqueness of these pieces have made Edwardian jewelry prominently known in the history of jewelry.