Jewelry History

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Diamond History

The Georgian period is named after the four successive English kings George I, George II, George III and George IV. It spans most of the 18th and part of the 19th century. Varying styles of jewelry were produced during this period. The styles moved from Rococo during George the first's reign through Gothic revival and Neoclassical. Surviving examples are rare. All Georgian Jewelry was handmade. This was a period of discovery and innovation. Glass paste copies of real gems were developed as well as a substitute for gold called "pinchbeck" named after its inventor. The early Georgian fashion called for the use of large stones set in an elaborate rococo style. At the beginning of the Georgian period diamonds were used to the almost total exclusion of other stones. To meet the increased demand for white stones in the first half of the 18th century, paste, rock crystal, marcasite, and cut steel were employed with increasing sophistication. Diamond alternatives were soon produced with such quality that it was entirely respectable for even royalty to wear them. At this time diamond cutters were introducing exciting new types of gem cuts such as rose cut, cushion, and 'brilliants'. Bezels, foilbacked stones, low flat goldwork, and cobalt blue and black and white enameling are common features of Georgian jewelry. Georgian pieces can sometimes be detected by the way the stones are mounted. Unlike the open work favored today for gem stones, Georgian gems were often set over gold or silver foil with their backs enclosed with metal. For metals silver or gold was in use; platinum was not as yet discovered and white gold was not used in jewelry. Rose gold, yellow gold, silver, and sometimes green or red gold were employed. Most diamond jewelry was almost always set in silver; the sentiments of the time were that the silver color of the metal enhanced the properties of diamonds, whereas a gold surrounding did not. The backs of jewelry and ear wires were often gold to prevent tarnish on skin and clothing. Colored gems were set in gold. Types of jewelry worn were the stomacher (a large element worn similarly to a huge brooch at the center of the stomach just below the breasts and trailing down the front), aigrettes (elements for the hair), girandoles (three drop earrings), pendeloque earrings (a bow and drop form), necklaces (sometimes secured by ribbons, rings, slides), bracelets typically worn in pairs usually slipped onto a ribbon, chatelaines, and buckles and buttons - for men for shoes, breeches and other clothing.