The Georgian period was greatly significant for jewellery.
At the beginning of the 18th century gem set jewellery started to come to the fore, and while in previous decades the wearing of jewellery was often a religious or political statement, jewellery began to become more closely aligned with the necessity to follow fashionable society.
For woman, fashion and jewellery became a way to express one’s personality whilst respecting the boundaries and etiquette of the time. The majority of Georgian jewellery was handmade and often used labour intensive techniques.
At the time there were major developments in technology and fashion, which greatly impacted jewellery trends. The discovery of a new mine in Brazil saw an abundance of diamonds come to market making them more affordable and accessible to the diamond cutters in Europe.
Popular jewellery styles and designs included Pendeloque, Cameos, Riviere necklaces, En-Tremblant and Parure. There was also a clear distinction between day and evening jewellery. Gem set and gold pieces such as Chatelaines (the original handbag), stacked rings and large gemstones surrounded by smaller diamonds were appropriate for the day, whilst larger diamonds and pearls were reserved for the evening as they looked better under the candle lit chandeliers of the ballrooms.
Until 1750, designs had a grand ornateness which was influenced by the Baroque period. Later, the Rococo period brought softer, lighter asymmetrical styles of jewellery. Pieces often had motifs such as skulls, bones, graves and angels, and were commonly seen in mourning jewellery. Bows were seen as a symbol of love and marriage, and flowers conveyed sentiment and friendship.
Diamonds, often rose-cut, were used almost exclusively until 1750 when Gemstones such as ruby, sapphire, garnet, topaz, coral, shell, agate, chrysoberyl and pearl made a resurgence.
In 1780 paste was introduced as a gemstone alternative. Predominately set in silver, gems often had foiled backs which helped enhance the stones colour and scintillation.
Original Georgian jewellery is very rare and valuable because of its age. Also, at the time, jewellery was up-cycled as fashion trends changed making it even more scarce today.