french jewellery from 1871 to 1914

The beauty of Belle Époque jewellery

Beautiful jewellery from the Belle Epoque peroid

Thursday 25th June 2020

Belle Époque is French for “Beautiful Era” as it was a peaceful and prosperous time. Dating from the end of the Franco-Prussion war in 1871 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, “The Belle Époque” was so named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a “Golden Age". It was a period characterised by optimism, economic prosperity and significant cultural, technological and scientific innovations. Progress in technology and advances from the industrial revolution of the mid 1880s brought wealth to all classes. It was the perfect time for jewellery and fashion to reflect this lightness and prosperity.

Jewellers were becoming more sophisticated in the creation of their jewels, all made possible by the widespread use of the stronger metal being used, platinum. Platinum could safely hold stones in thinner more delicate mounts so jewellers could create intricate details that were previously not possible. This was reflected in designs that were less ornate and lighter, which led to the Garland style.

Inspired by motifs popular during the rule of Louis XIV, this new trend was characterised by garlands, wreaths, lace, bows, tassels, ribbons and swags. These luxuriously beautiful handcrafted designs appeared in lavish necklaces, tiaras, brooches, rings and pendants. It was a time of elegance and opulence, yet despite their love of jewellery, everything was fashioned with the upmost class, creating a tasteful, yet bold and interesting look.

There was a focus on nature and its associations with femininity and fertility. Favourite subjects included nature in all its forms, particularly the soft and flowing lines of female figures, weaving plant stems, flowers, insects, snakes and animals. Designs were sensuous, highly decorative and were designed to enhance feminine beauty. Ladies dressed for evening in beautiful lightweight material of chiffon or satin, which were adorned with elaborate lace and beadwork. These high-waisted, less-fitted gowns with low necklines, short sleeves and long-gloved arms perfectly showcased the jewels of this era. Ladies’ necklines would often display a natural pearl choker or multiple strands of pearls. Rings, like bracelets, were worn again in number, while long hair would be worn up and ornamented with feathers and jewels.  

Aside from diamonds and natural pearls, jewellers creations were adorned with rubies and fancy coloured diamonds in yellow and pink. Fanciful designs in aquamarine, topaz and demantoid garnet were also popular.

Our collections at Berganza follow the innovation and romance seen in this beautiful era, with ingenuity and skill seen in the craftsmanship of every piece. Whether you are searching for the perfect engagement ring or looking to treat yourself to something special, our entire collection is available to view instore, online or by booking a zoom appointment through our website.

Natural pearl and diamond earrings berganza hatton garden
Natural pearl and diamond earrings, circa 1880.
Ref: 26188
Belle Époque diamond cluster ring berganza hatton garden
Belle Époque diamond cluster ring, circa 1900.
Ref: 25870
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Updated 30/03/2023 at 2:05PM

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