Georgian era jewelry is generally regarded as the oldest era of estate jewelry. Pieces are extremely rare and often produced from 1714 to the mid 1830’s.
Unfortunately, most of the jewelry that has survived from the Georgian era has been taken apart or modified in some way over the years.
Georgian Jewelry Characteristics:
The Georgian era saw five English kings reign: King George I, II, III and IV, and King William IV. It was a time marked by prosperity and revolution, especially in politics, art and architecture.
Ornate and ostentatious style and design accentuated the Georgian period. Style examples you might find include:
- handcrafted and cut gemstones (diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires)
- intricate metalwork
- cast iron pieces
- natural world and human motifs
Examples of Georgian Era Jewelry
Shapes and Stones
First, let’s look at Georgian period gemstones and shapes.
Current jewelry making technology was non-existent during the 18th and 19th centuries. Therefore, Georgian jewelry was made almost exclusively by hand.
Jewelry settings followed the shape of the particular stone in the design.
Diamonds were popular during this period, but the methods for cutting were much different. Georgian era jewelry makers had to be much more creative with primitive hand cutting. Today, diamond cutters create shine and brilliance through strategic machine cuts.
Many times jewelry makers backed the stones in foil to bounce more light throughout the stone.
It was common to see multiple types of stones and shapes used in the same piece. Diamonds (both table and rose cut), amethysts, topaz, sapphires and garnets were all used in the Georgian era.
Cast Iron Replicas
Next, Georgian era jewelry was characterized by unique iron pieces.
Like many other periods in estate jewelry history, times of war dictated the types of metal that were most often found in different pieces.
Germany was plunged into war in the 19th century, which created a gold shortage. Many German jewelry owners submitted their gold pieces to the war effort, and were actually given back replicas made of cast iron.
These cast iron pieces are known as Fer-de-Berlin and became extremely popular throughout the 1800’s.
Finally, a popular era application was the creation of memorial jewelry.
Funeral scenes painted on to pieces or miniature portraits of passed-away loved ones became a standard of the time. Some would even use locks of hair incorporated into their jewelry.
We love this style period, although Georgian jewelry pieces are hard to come by. However, many still exist in a modified form. And if you’re lucky enough to find any, add them to your collection!
This era essentially paved the way for the artistry of the Victorian and Art Nouveau periods.
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 Retro 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.