Distinctive And Rare Jewelry

History of Georgian Era Jewelry: Distinctive And Rare Jewelry

The Georgian era is named after King George and his successors. This era covers the period between 1714 and 1837.  During this time, jewelry was worn only by wealthy individuals. 

Spanning more than a century, this era includes different jewelry designs with playful motifs and a variety of sumptuous pieces. One of the most notable styles is Rococo, which was favored in the beginning of the era, while the Gothic and Neoclassical designs gained importance towards the end of the era.

History of Georgian Era Jewelry: Distinctive And Rare Jewelry brooch

Characteristics Of Georgian Jewelry

During the Georgian era, jewelers handcrafted all items in an incredibly labor intensive process. While some of them hammered the metals and gold ingots, others were fabricating the pieces.

Since there were only a few exclusive jewelry pieces worn by the most wealthy and no mass production, very few pieces survived.  These are now considered as precious items in many museums.

There were no makers marks or metal content stamps on Georgian pieces because gold assaying wasn’t known that time.  Also, the gemstones were set in closed back settings, usually with foil, which enhanced their scintillation by candle light.

Ornate Metal Works Through Hand Fabrication

History of Georgian Era Jewelry: Distinctive And Rare Jewelry earrings

Ornate metal work created by casting and hand fabrication was very popular. The metals that were used during this period included steel, iron, silver (for gemstone settings), 18k or higher yellow gold and pinchbeck (an element that combines 83% copper and 17% zinc). 

Repousse - This technique involved hammering the malleable metal into intricate designs and patterns. Thanks to the invention of the rolling mill in 1750, there was no need to hammer the metal into thin and uniform sheets. There were even designs that featured actual woven hair.

History of Georgian Era Jewelry: Distinctive And Rare Jewelry aquamarine brooch

Cannetille - This was a metalworking technique popular in the beginning of the 19th century. It involved intricate wire work designs and embroidery-inspired filigree patterns. Aquamarines were used in this technique to create the most stunning pieces.


Significant Jewelry Motifs From The Georgian Era

History of Georgian Era Jewelry: Distinctive And Rare Jewelry opal gold necklace

Some of the most popular motifs in Georgian jewelry included flowers, ribbons, bows, leaves, sprays of foliage, crescents, leaves reflecting the Baroque period. After 1750, the Rococo style brough a new type of jewelry best characterized by its asymmetrical, open and light lines.

There were many significant archaeological discoveries that affected Georgian jewelry motives. One of the most prominent discoveries were the ruins of Pompeii which were excavated from 1706 to 1814. From Roman to Greek, the motive discoveries brought a lot of new inspiration into Georgian jewelry.

Some of the most notable gem cutting styles included table cuts, rose cuts, old mine cuts, cabochon and briolette. As for the most trending items in Georgian jewelry, the list includes the pear-shaped pendeloque earrings, the cameos which were used in necklaces, brooches and rings as well  as various necklaces such as dog collars and chokers in various styles.

History of Georgian Era Jewelry: Distinctive And Rare Jewelry chatelaines

There were also chatelaines which served as handbags before purses or pockets were invented. They dangled from pinks or hooks and were attached to people’s belts - both decorative and practical.

A Final Word

In the end, the Georgian era in jewelry is the backbone of many newer styles. It also served as an inspiration to many artisans, artists and handcrafters which utilized various skills to produce some of the world’s most unique jewelry pieces.