As someone with a fondness for recycling objects of beauty into new uses, especially in regards to jewelry pieces, it should come as no surprise that I am enamored with Georgian and Victorian era buckles turned into wearable modern-day jewelry pieces.
By the 1700’s buckles were found across all levels of society with exception for the very poorest classes. Shoe buckles were attached to shoes via straps, or latchets, over the instep and were meant to be interchangeable between other pairs of shoes. They were sold separately and were treated as jewelry accessories that often came with special boxes created just to hold the buckles.
Often, it’s difficult to tell the difference between buckles made for men or women, as they were equally stylish and elaborate. By the 18th century, buckles were very popular and could be found set with real gemstones, including diamonds, along with paste stones. Diamond set buckles were worn but were seen rarely. Paste stone buckles were more common and worn by those at every station in society, including the aristocratic and royal circles.
Paste stones are glass and are very different from the rhinestone jewelry of today as paste is typically used as a term to describe leaded glass. The leaded glass nuggets were cut in shapes like diamonds and often only the best stone cutters created them as it took great skill and precision to cut the glass, without damaging the glass.
Paste was most popular during the Georgian period and into the early Victorian period. It was created as its own jewelry stone and style and not meant to be an imitation or duplicate of a diamond stone. Even royalty across Europe were fond of wearing jewelry pieces created with paste stones.
By the Victorian era when machine made stamped objects made jewelry production available for the masses, cut steel buckles came into favor as the steel rivets were cut and polished to resemble glittering beads.
Whether set with diamonds, paste or cut steel, the final effect of sparkle must have been amazing to witness on candlelit ballroom floors or simply on promenade as one went about their day on busy streets or even at a slower paced stroll through a garden or public park.
By the early 1800's shoe buckles fell out of fashion but were still popular over the next century as part of military dress uniforms, formal court or government dress or livery uniforms for servants.
My personal favorites are Georgian era buckles set with black dot paste stones. I try to purchase them when I come across an exceptional piece or when I find a rare set.
With the addition of a handcrafted gemstone chain, you have a beautiful, historic and unique piece of jewelry. I try to always have a few antique buckle necklaces in my shop and currently have the following special pieces available.
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