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Influenced by science, exploration and world affairs, the design and materials used in fine jewellery are a fascinating reflection of history, as much as a testament to the skill of the craftsmen who created it.
Jewellery from this turbulent period, which included the French and American revolutions as well as the invention of the steam engine, is typified by clusters of precious stones, closed back settings in silver and gold, and parures - sets of matching pieces.
This period begins with romantic Early Victorian engraved lockets and brooches, continues with mid Victorian 'mourning' jewellery following the death of Prince Albert and closes with late Victorian sapphires, amethysts and peridots set into star or crescent forms and symbolic designs.
Art Nouveau 1890-1910
Designs influenced by nature and free-flowing forms typify Art Nouveau jewellery. Enamel becomes widely used. Renée Lalique creates some of the most recognised jewellery of the time.
Belle Époque/ Edwardian 1901-1910
Belle Époque, or the 'beautiful era', delights in filigree and invisible settings worked in the new metal of choice platinum, with diamonds as the stone of choice. Edwardian, a subset of this style, refers to designs which falls under the reign of King Edward VII (1901-1910), who brought a fresh new sense of fun to design.
Platinum becomes scarce due to the war and coloured golds come back into the market after decades of platinum and other white metals dominating. Design becomes more three dimensional and takes on a more patriotic feel. Bold designs with flowing lines highlighted with colourful gemstones often set in channel settings.
Textured gold makes a come back with Florentine, twisted and braided finishes becoming popular once more. Turquoise and coral are popular and cultured pearls start to be worn during the day.
It is an exciting time of discovery and rebellion, this is reflected in the jewellery. The 1950’s are perhaps one of the most vibrant of decades where gemstones and settings are concerned.