Belle Époque: 1895 - 1914 Design Period

Belle Époque: 1895 - 1914

The pretty period in jewellery design


Belle Époque: 1895 - 1914

Belle Époque: 1895 - 1914

The Belle Époque era stretched from 1871 with the end of the Franco-Prussian war to 1914 and the outbreak of World War I. “The Belle Époque” French for “Beautiful Era” was so named in retrospect when it began to be considered a golden age of history, characterised by optimism, economic prosperity (with the industrial output of France tripling during this time) and significant cultural, technological and scientific innovations. Political stability coupled with progress in technology and advances from the industrial revolution of the mid-1880s brought wealth to all classes as incomes rose. People sought to display this newfound wealth through jewellery and fashion, which in turn reflected this time of peace 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 replaced heavier silver settings, safely able 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. There was a focus on nature and its associations with femininity and fertility. With lightweight materials adorned with lace and beadwork acting as the perfect backdrop for luxuriously beautiful handcrafted designs. Appearing as lavish necklaces, tiaras, brooches, rings and pendants. It was a time of elegance and opulence, the popularity of jewellery ensured everything was fashioned with the utmost class, creating a tasteful, yet bold and interesting look.

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’ 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.

Today, jewels from this era are rare as few original jewels have survived. 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.

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Examples from our catalogue


Andre Rivaud rose cut diamond cluster ring, French hatton garden
Andre Rivaud rose cut diamond cluster ring, French, circa 1910.
Belle Epoque diamond cross over ring, French, circa 1905. Hatton Garden
Belle Epoque diamond cross over ring, French, circa 1905.
Belle Époque diamond cluster ring, French hatton garden
Belle Époque diamond cluster ring, French, circa 1895.
Belle Époque ruby and diamond bow brooch hatton garden
Belle Époque ruby and diamond bow brooch, circa 1910.
René Boivin old mine diamond three stone ring hatton garden
René Boivin old mine diamond three stone ring, French, circa 1910.
Belle Époque pink tourmaline and diamond ring, circa 1900. Hatton Garden
Belle Époque pink tourmaline and diamond ring, circa 1900.
Natural pearl and diamond double heart ring, French, circa 1905. Hatton Garden
Natural pearl and diamond double heart ring, French, circa 1905.
Natural saltwater pearl and diamond cluster ring hatton garden
Natural saltwater pearl and diamond cluster ring, French, circa 1910.
Belle Époque ruby and diamond target ring hatton garden
Belle Époque ruby and diamond target ring, French, circa 1910.

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Updated 6/08/2022 at 3:34PM

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