Jewellery has been worn by the earliest civilizations, in fact right from the beginning of time starting with stone age civilizations who wore jewellery made of bone. The ancient bodies found frozen or entombed, all wore various types of jewellery - amulets, bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
Estate Jewellery does not necessarily mean that a piece of jewellery is old, only that it is pre-owned. collectable jewellery usually means a costume piece that is no longer in production and antique and period jewellery is a term that broadly covers jewellery from a specific chronological era.
1714 – 1836
The Georgian period is the earliest style of jewellery that people found desirable. Georgian Jewellery is extremely rare to find as most of the pieces were broken down and re-designed into our current styles especially from the early Georgian period. The most common stones used were garnets, precious topaz, coral and early faceted diamonds set into silver.
1837 – 1900 The Romantic, the Grand and the Aesthetic
The Victorian period was a time of epic romances, tragedies and unprecedented prosperity. The Romantic Period 1837-1860 began with Queen Victorias ascension to the throne. In 1840, Victoria married Prince Albert and their love and complete devotion became the impetus for the Romantic era. In 1861, the Romantic Period abruptly came to an end with the death of Queen Victorias beloved husband, Albert, this caused her more loyal subjects into deep mourning for 27 years.
With the increased availability of gold around 1849 came a resurgence of ancient gold-working techniques and designs. Discoveries of ancient civilizations and tombs ushered in a revival of Etruscan, Egyptian, Classical, Architectural and Renaissance styles. English families often travelled to Europe for The Grand Tour and while visiting famous landmarks, they purchased mementos and souvenirs of their trip, this period of time is known as The Grand.
The third important catalyst of this time developed when Victoria was crowned Empress of India 1876, thereby encouraging trade between the two continents. The late Victorian Period, known as the Aesthetic Period or Movement 1880-1901 was a direct response to the over indulgent fashions and to the stuffy formality and strict protocol of the Grand Period. During the Aesthetic Period a sense of fun and light heartedness returned to jewellery.
1880 – 1914
Art Nouveau Jewellery is inspired by female forms, dancers, nymphs, mermaids, water lilies, flowers, dragonflies and flowing lines are motifs seen through this jewellery. The designers used less expensive semi-precious gems into their designs. Colours were applied with fired enamels with plique a jour a translucent enamel which created beautiful pictures of stained glass.
Edwardian / Belle Epoch
1890 – 1920
Edwardian / Belle Epoch jewellery is very delicate, romantic, feminine and lacy. The jewellery usually composed of platinum with diamonds and natural pearls. The workmanship is highly detailed, open and airy. Bows and garlands were a popular theme.
1920 – 1935
Art Deco jewellery depicts the modern age. The designs are streamlined, geometric, symmetric, classy styles. This was also the time when the gemstones were being mined: Kashmir sapphires, Burmese Rubies, Old Mine Muzo Emeralds, Lightning Ridge Opals, to name a but a few are jewels that were most often set in platinum.
1935 – 1950
Retro jewellery is back to gold and notably rose gold, due to the short supply of platinum that was required for the war. One thinks of retro as the golden age of Hollywood glamour jewellery: Joan Crawford, Marlena Detrich, Greta Garbo. There is nothing subtle or demure about it. Oversized, dramatic, deco-inspired designs were common and very often asymmetrical and whimsical. Rubies were all the rage but also many semi-precious stones were used: Citrine, Aquamarine, Amethyst and Moonstones in large sizes.
1950s – Present
The fabulous Fifties!. We are back to platinum and diamonds but seemingly in direct opposition to pre-war Art Deco style. Designs include lots of abstract, free-form, linear and floral motifs with overlapping and pave diamonds. More flash than finesse. Many styles overlap decorative periods and there are no precise beginnings and endings to style trends.