Georgian Jewelry

cameo or miniature reversible pin This jewelry was made between 1714 and 1830 during the reigns of the four English kings named George. 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.
cameo or miniature reversible pin The best and most long lasting paste jewelery was produced after 1734 by Georges Strass. Paste made it possible to make inexpensive copies of the real thing to guard against theft by highwaymen.

Gemstones:

diamond bows

Jewelery and fashion are closely related. These diamond bows would have decorated the stomacher of an early Georgian dress.

Georgette Heyer set her novel Beauvallet in this period; and Jo Beverley's Malloran series are set in this part of the Georgian period.

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'.
In the 1750's colored stones came back into vogue. Then emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were worn again along with new stones like white-imperial-pink topazes, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls, and garnets. emerald and seed pearl pin
diamond bows emerald and seed pearl pin
Grecian style cameo set in gold frame Lava, shell, onyx, and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classical theme jewelry. This Neoclassical style began with the discovery and excavation of Pompeii in the mid 1700s. Finds there greatly influenced fashion, architecture, interior design, and philosophy and literature. Cameos became very popular after Napoleon had antique Roman cameos placed on his coronation crown for his 1804 coronation.
Grecian style cameo set in gold frame

Metals:

Gold with high karat content was preferred. However, Berlin iron made in that city from 1806 was popular during the Napoleonic Wars as a show of patriotism. Pinchbeck a cheap replacement for gold was used for faux pieces. berlin iron
Berlin Iron necklace

Other:

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 as rhinestones generally are today. In more recent jewelry foil backing always indicates a fake stone.

Styles:

diamond wreath tiara 1800 diamond wreath tiara, 1800

A similar wreath tiara was purchased for Princess Charlotte's wedding. Parliament granted the Princess the sum of 10,000 pounds for jewelry at her marriage in 1816. She purchased "a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves, a diamond fastener for her manteau, a diamond cestus, ear-rings, and an armlet of great value, with a superb set of pearls from Rundell, Bridge & Co."
Large jewelry in the form of bracelets, index finger rings, girandole earrings, memorabilia jewelry, crosses, hair combs, buckles, aigrettes, and tiaras were favored in Georgian times. Dog collars or chokers as we call them today were popular in the period 1770 to 1790.
hair work on ivory memorial pin
Given the uncertainty of life and the state of medicine in those days, it is no surprise that memorial jewelry was common. However, it was not yet such a major force as memorial or hair jewelry was to become by Victorian times when the overcrowding of cities, poor sanitation practices, and plagues would take a terrible toll on families.
hair work on ivory memorial pin

Influences:

Jewelry of this period was made in the popular styles following the trends in architecture and interior decoration, including Rococo, Greek and Roman, Pompeiian, and Gothic. intaglio ring in the Gothic taste
intaglio ring in the Gothic taste

Designs:

Cameos, intaglios, mosaic, acorns, the Greek key, Urns, Doves, Phoenix, Wheat, and plumage were all popular Georgian motifs.
Men wore more jewelry in those days than is the custom presently. Miniatures, tiny portraits of a loved ones, were already popular. A man's locket with a secret became a fad during the reign of George III. The first 'lover's eye' locket miniature may have been commissioned by Mrs. Fitzherbert for the Prince of Wales after their secret marriage in 1785. These lockets contained a painting of the eye area and a wisp of hair drooping across the forehead. This miniature was both intimate and anonymous. lover's eye locket


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