The Georgian Period extends roughly from 1714-1830, which includes the reigns of four English Kings named George. Jewelry during this time was all handmade by skilled artisans and pieces from this era are very rare today. It was a time of upheaval, with the French Revolution, American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars taking place. Gold and diamonds were scarce during this time period, so alternatives like glass “paste” copies of diamonds were created as well as other white colored stones. Garnets, pearls, and coral were used very often, while carving gemstoneswas very popular. Women often worn bracelets in pairs and earrings were worn long with hair kept upswept. Jeweled arm bands worn high on the arm were popular near the beginning of the time period, with a change to more delicate jewelry happening towards the end.
Some motifs and distinctive elements of this time period:
- Navette style rings
- Memento Mori jewelry–made from locks of hair of loved ones
- Ribbons/Bows–often having a pear-shaped gemstones
- Starburst and Flower brooches
- Cameos–carving shell, onyx, carnelian was very popular; Napoleon founded a carving school because he was so fond.
- Roman mosaics “Mille-Fiore” taking semi-preicous stones and inlaying them in black onyx
- Ferronieres–were head ornaments worn with a jewel that sat on the forehead. It was a fad of short duration during the Georgian and Victorian eras. Once the style was over many pieces were remade into necklaces or bracelets.
- Crowned Heart design–symbolized the importance of love’s rule over one’s life.
- flowers, greek key, laurel leaves, scroll work, eagles, Egyptian symbols, urns and acorns
Important People of the Time:
- Benedetto Pistrucci–talented carver of gemstones and cameos
- Robert Adam–his architecture work and designs influenced neo-classicism in jewelry arts
Life during this time period was often short, due to poor sanitation, poor medicines with diseases spread easily/quickly. The contrast of the small number of people who were rich and the many poor was very distinct–most people were never able to afford jewelry, but those few who did were extravagant and lived a life of luxury. So, if you are lucky enough to own or purchase a piece of jewelry from the Georgian Era, it probably once belonged to someone very privileged.