Jewelry Eras

Below is a short review of some of the most popular jewelry styles and periods from the 18th century to the 1950s.  Many of these periods were influenced by the Kings & Queens of the English monarchy.  The dates provided for each period are the most popular reference dates, but exact years ebb and flow into one another as new styles and time periods came to be.  Which is your favorite style?

Georgian 1714 - 1837

This elegant & grand jewelry period is named after England's King George I, II, III and IV.   Prior and during this period, gems and jewelry were most often worn only by clergy, royalty and the very wealthy.  Jewelry was completely handcrafted and had a very opulent style.  Georgian jewelry was most often made with precious and semi-precious stones with the most popular stones being garnets, emeralds, ruby, diamond, coral and topaz.  Statement pieces were often crafted in a style influenced by nature, such as flowers, birds, foliage, animals, feathers and ribbons.  In addition, ivory, amber, pearl, turquoise, translucent agate and carnelian stones & beads were common elements used in jewelry design.  Also popular were carved gems and stones known as Intaglios.  Stones set during the Georgian period most often had closed backs with gems being foiled backed in their settings.  Matching sets of jewelry (known as Parures) were in high demand and Parures included coordinating necklace, ring, earrings, bracelets and tiara.  Short necklaces were popular, such as Rivieres, which comprised a single row of diamonds or gemstones and chandelier style earrings added to the glamour of this period.  Women wore mourning jewelry which featured sepia images of funeral scenes and symbols painted on ivory.  Mourning jewelry at this time also featured locks of hair from a loved one.  Portrait miniatures of loved ones on pendants and brooches were popular too.  Lover's eye jewelry became in vogue and both men and women wore jeweled shoe buckles, buttons, pocket watches & chains.  Jewelry was also designed to convert, such as necklaces that came apart to form two bracelets.

Victorian 1837 - 1901

This romantic jewelry period is marked by the reign of England's Queen Victoria who married Prince Albert in 1840.  Jewelry during this time period is often broken down into three main time periods:

* Early Victorian 1837 - 1860

* Mid or High Victorian 1860 - 1885

* Late Victorian 1885 - 1901

Victorians were enamored with nature and with sentimental motifs.  Elaborate shell & stone cameos became popular along with fringe, rosettes and colorful gemstones.  Popular design motifs included flowers, leaves, birds, stars, crescent moons, snakes, griffins, hearts, bows, love knots and hands.  Popular gemstones included jet, onyx, amethyst, deep red garnets, sapphire, peridot, spinel, coral, opals and seed perals.  Human hair became popular in jewelry making along with elaborate engravings, filigree elements, brooches, hat pins, locket pendants and earrings were also very popular.  Women wore multiple bracelets and bangles.  Two popular design styles, Cannetille and Repousse appeared during this time.  After the death of Queen Victoria's beloved husband in 1861, jewelry styles were influenced by the jewelry the Queen wore while in mourning, which were gemstones with darker tones such as jet, onyx, deep red garnets and gold jewelry was embellished with black enamel design work to bring a more somber tone to the bright gold metals.

Edwardian 1901 - 1915

This era of jewelry design gets it name from England's King Edward VII.  It also corresponds with the French, Belle Epoque era.  Advances in jewelry manufacturing & platinum fabrication, allowed jewelry to be created in light & airy styles that were lavish yet delicate looking at the same time.  The most popular gemstones were diamonds and pearls set in elegant and graceful designs.  Garlands, bows, tassels and laurel wreaths were very popular.  Necklaces were most popular in dog collar styles and long strands of pearls or long gemstone studded thin chains.  Pendant necklaces with 2 drops of unequal lengths, all typify popular necklace styles during this elegant period.

Art Nouveau 1895 - 1910

French for "new art", this period in jewelry design emerged from Paris and featured jewelry with highly stylized, free-flowing lines, often incorporating flowers, vines, leaves, scrolls, birds, beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, grasshoppers & spiders.  These nature inspired designs were incorporated into brooches, pendants, charms, stick pins and cuff links.  Popular gemstones used during this time included moonstone, opal, citrine, amethyst, freshwater pearls & peridot.  Enameled accents were frequently used in design elements.

Art Deco 1925 -1940

This period in jewelry design is marked by strong lines, bold geometric shapes, contrasting colors and symmetry.  Jewelry styles included long pendant earrings, cocktail rings, diamond watches, wide bracelets and cuffs, diamond bar pins and gemstone brooches.  The most popular gemstones used in jewelry making during this time included red coral, black onyx, lapis, carnelian, ruby, turquoise and sapphire.  Geometric shapes of circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, zigzag & starburst patterns, all with sharp lines and bold colors.  Art Deco really embraced more abstract & geometrical design forms all inspired by the fast moving industrial age that was happening at the same time.

Retro 1935 - 1950

Hollywoods golden age influenced this period in jewelry design with elaborate chunky and colorful jewelry using an array of gold & gemstones.  Popular styles included oversized cocktail rings, charms, bracelets and large ear clip earrings.  Design motifs included panthers, birds, lions, flowers, bows and scrolls.  The most popular gemstones during this time period were rubies, citrine, amethyst, sapphires, aquamarine and topaz.