As England made the slow transition from Queen Victoria in the late 1800’s to King Edward VII in 1901, the style of jewelry craftsmanship changed along with it. Major advances in technology paired with a new fashion trends for women caused a shift towards a light, elegant jewelry period known as the Edwardian Era. This period in jewelry design lasted from 1901 to roughly 1920. The Edwardian era was a time period of sophistication and elegance driven by the extreme wealth of the upper class.
The Edwardian Era of Jewelry
Manufacturing technology progressed quickly in the early 20th century, which caused an explosion in the amount of platinum used when creating jewelry. Platinum gave jewelers the unique ability to create settings that were so thin they seemed almost invisible. This led to a major emphasis on the gemstones in the pieces rather than a focus on the artistic quality of the settings themselves.
The rise in platinum use also makes it much easier to date jewelry from this time period, as it was often still backed with gold until 1910. Platinum became the calling card of the Edwardian era, being found in necklace, earrings, dog collars, brooches, and more.
Near the end of the 19th century during the Victorian era, diamonds became much more abundant as new mines were found and exploited. This trend of using diamonds continued seamlessly into the Edwardian era. Not only were diamonds the centerpieces of the era’s jewelry, but they were the accent as well! Many times the trend was to use as many diamonds as possible.
Pearls were also an important feature of Edwardian jewelry, as well as other stones like aquamarines, sapphires, and even Russian green demantoid garnets pictured below:
Art Nouveau, The Victorian Era and World War One
It’s important to note that almost simultaneously during the rise of the Edwardian Era, the Art Nouveau and Victorian Era jewelry trends were also present. This caused all three jewelry eras to mix at times, creating extremely unique pieces of jewelry. Art Nouveau was all about the female form, while Victorian pieces tended to be geared towards celebration and rebirth as Queen Victoria ended her 25 year period of mourning.
As World War One came to the fold, all three eras quickly halted. Jewelry manufacturing became almost nonexistent, and precious metals like platinum that were once in such high use became almost impossible to find. As times got harder and harder economically, many people resorted to selling or hiding their jewelry. This new reality marked a close to the Edwardian era.
Jonathan’s Fine Jewelers has dealt in vintage jewelry for over 25 years. One of the early staples of our business revolved on identifying, buying, and selling vintage estate jewelry. If you are interested in Victorian Era jewelry or would like us to evaluate pieces in your possession, call or send us an email to schedule an appointment. You can also view our eBay store to find some of our current inventory.
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