The Jewellery of Downton Abbey

Onyx, jade and diamond bracelet by Cartier Paris, French, circa 1920.
Onyx, jade and diamond bracelet by Cartier Paris, French, circa 1920.
Ref: 16143

Saturday 10th December 2011

This year’s most celebrated television programme is surely Downton Abbey, with its four Emmy awards, including Best Miniseries, acting as testament.  Written by Julian Fellows (of Gosford Park fame), the drama follows the upstairs-downstairs life of an English country house over the course of the 1910s.  The show is ripe with accurate historical detail, right down to the jewellery, which has in turn inspired a fashion for jewels of this era.

In the first season the ladies of the house are in mourning, and thus dark gemstones abound, including jet and sapphires, as would have been the custom.  During season two, however, despite the onset of World War I, the jewellery is much lighter and brighter, with delicate platinum work set with diamonds, pearls and bright coloured stones such as rubies.  Lady Mary and Lady Edith in particular wear various pendant necklaces and earrings, and Cora, Countess of Grantham, can be seen in a lovely pair of diamond and ruby drops. 

Cora as well as the dowager Countess and Lady Rosamund can often be seen wearing fabulous brooches.  One imagines that a good deal of Cora’s jewellery, being that she is an American heiress, would have made her partial to Tiffany’s, the premier American jewellery firm at the time. 

Lady Sybil, the young rebel, is fashioned less in the high style of her relatives and instead bears more ‘modern’ Art Nouveau style jewels in the first season.  By the end of season two she can be seen wearing jewellery with a design nod towards the Art Deco—bolder colour combinations, such as black and green, as seen in her jade and onyx sautoir, a popular form of necklace at the time.

Not to be forgotten, the gentlemen would have also worn precious articles, such as cufflinks and dress sets for their tuxedos, which they were required to wear to dine every evening.  Perhaps the most exciting piece of jewellery, still yet to come, will be Lady Mary’s engagement ring—but now we will just have to wait for season three!

front-view-Tiffany & Co. antique diamond pendant/brooch, American, circa 1910.
Tiffany & Co. antique diamond pendant/brooch, American, circa 1910.
Ref: 16749
Diamond cluster ring, circa 1910.
Diamond cluster ring, circa 1910.
Ref: 16072
Ruby and diamond cluster earrings, circa 1910.
Ruby and diamond cluster earrings, circa 1910.
Ref: 16419
Antique natural pearl and diamond earrings, English, circa 1910.
Antique natural pearl and diamond earrings, English, circa 1910.
Ref: 14942
Art Nouveau diamond bracelet, circa 1910.
Ref: 11498
front-view-Sapphire and diamond coronet cluster ring, French, circa 1915.
Sapphire and diamond cluster ring, French, circa 1915.
Ref: 16217
Krementz gentleman's pearl and mother of pearl dress set, American, circa 1915.
Krementz gentleman's pearl and mother of pearl dress set, American, circa 1915.
Ref: 15083

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A long established retailer of fine period jewellery, Berganza the jewellers is based in the heart of Hatton Garden, London’s historic jewellery quarter. We specialise in the finest examples of ancient, antique and vintage engagement rings- each one unique, hand crafted and expertly created. We are proud to have one of the largest collections of antique and vintage diamond engagement rings as well as natural gemstone engagement rings in the world, our inventory boasts over two thousand rings. We are fascinated by the history, myth, tradition and design of engagement rings and their evolution over the last two millennia.

We believe in only offering exceptional pieces from each design period, from Ancient Roman intaglio seal rings, Viking twisted rings through to rare gem-set Medieval pieces, Georgian, ornate Victorian, elegant Edwardian, bold Art Deco and retro vintage designs. Each piece has a unique historical background and dates to a time when jewellery was crafted by hand in the days before mass-production, so no two are alike. We deal in rarity and as such have a vast collection of posy rings, the precursors to 'modern' wedding rings, which are most often only available to be viewed in museums. Berganza also has an extensive selection of other types of jewellery such as antique earrings from simple stud earrings through to ornate drop earrings, the finest quality from each of the historical design periods. Another specialty are antique and vintage one-off signed pieces of jewellery by the most famous of jewellery houses such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Oscar Heyman Brothers and Boucheron but to name a few. These pieces of jewellery ooze the glamour of bygone eras and are highly sought after today.

Every item of jewellery is set with hand cut diamonds or natural and unenhanced gemstones, often from mines long since depleted. We are proud to include in our compilation, jewellery set with old mine diamonds from India and Brazil, Burmese rubies, Colombian emeralds and Kashmir, Ceylon and Burmese sapphires. Our team of specialists are trained in all aspects of gemmology and history of jewellery design, so we are able to select the finest quality pieces of jewellery for our extensive one-of-a-kind stock. Our expertise in this area is unparalleled and our shared passion for antique jewellery is paramount to our business.

88-90 HATTON GARDEN, London, EC1N 8PN, England

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