Posts tagged edwardian jewelry
The Edwardian Era
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Although King Edward's reign spanned the years 1901-1910, when referring to jewellery, the Edwardian Era generally means the years 1901 - 1915.  Stylistically, Edwardian era jewellery can also be said to have begun much earlier, during the last years of the Aesthetic Era. The Edwardian era also occurred simultaneously to the French Belle Epoque Era and is also known as The Garland Era due to the prevalence of the iconic garland motif (see under 'Motifs' below). 

The designs of the Edwardian era jewellery were light and airy, influenced by the fluid lines of Art Nouveau design whilst still based on traditional motifs. Edwardian era jewellery is perhaps the  most ethereal and feminine jewellery of all and can be seen as a rejection of the ostentatious and stuffy designs of the Victorian era. Edwardian jewellery's emphasis on light coloured materials can also be seen as an reaction to the previous century's obsession with black mourning jewellery.  

MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING

Platinum quickly became the most important metal during this era. Prior to 1903, platinum was usually backed with gold. However, in 1903, the invention of the oxyacetylene torch and its ensuing high temperatures enabled pieces to be made solely from platinum. The strength and malleability of platinum allowed pieces to be created, often using pierced open work and filigree, that were both very fine and delicate whilst at the same time very durable.  Because of the adaptability of platinum, the new decorative technique of millegraining, in which extremely tiny bead like details are added to the edges of jewellery, emerged during this period. 

The most popular gemstones were diamonds and pearls.  Amethyst, turquoise, sapphires, garnets and opals were all popular stones. Jewellers experimented with new cuts such as calibré, baguette, marquises and briolettes.

STYLES

Dog Collars

Princess Alexandra 

Princess Alexandra 

Although the choker style necklaces, known as 'dog collars', were popular in France around 1865, the fashion boomed in England around 1880 when worn by Princess Alexandra. (It is said she was covering up a scar on her neck.) The styles of these tight fitting necklaces ranged from elaborate platinum pieces to wide rows of pearls to black velvet or or moiré, often with a central design in the form of a plaque, a garland, a flower or a buckle.  

Négligée

This is a necklace comprised often of fine chain links but not necessarily with two parallel pendants suspended at slightly different heights. This type of necklace began to be popular around 1900.

Sautoirs

Sautoirs were very long necklaces, often ropes of pearls or beads or chains with gems. They often had a fringed tassel at each end. They were worn wrapped multiple times around the neck or loose and falling past the waist. (This fashion continued in earnest in the Art Deco era).

Risqué Edwardian lady wearing a sautoir necklace and an aigrette. 

Risqué Edwardian lady wearing a sautoir necklace and an aigrette. 

 

White Jewellery

The Edwardian era is typified by the craze for all white jewellery. The beautiful pierced or filigree platinum and diamond pieces are said to  have complimented the new electric lighting perfectly and corresponded with a focus on evening events, the theatre, dinners and elegant cruises.  

Edwardian Era DIAMOND AND NATURAL PEARL PENDANT NECKLACE Christie’s Sale 2604

Edwardian Era DIAMOND AND NATURAL PEARL PENDANT NECKLACE
Christie’s Sale 2604

Edwardian era diamond and platinum brooch. Christies. 

Edwardian era diamond and platinum brooch. Christies. 

Black and white

Around 1910, the all white jewellery began to be mixed with black ribbons, black enamel, jet or onyx. These jewels could be worn whilst still observing mourning etiquette.

Résille

These were very fine, netted necklaces made of platinum, often set with diamonds.  They covered the neck and shoulders and flowed to the bodice. Cartier named them draperie de décolleté.

Edwardian lady wearing a résille necklace. 

Edwardian lady wearing a résille necklace. 

 

Earrings

Earrings in this era grew larger and longer, often dangling, designed to move and flow and catch the light. Again, there was an emphasis on platinum, diamonds, filigree and millegrain work. 

Edwardian lady. Note the dangling, flowing earrings and the aigrette. She is also wearing a 'fringe' necklace, a style popularised by archaeological revival. 

Edwardian lady. Note the dangling, flowing earrings and the aigrette. She is also wearing a 'fringe' necklace, a style popularised by archaeological revival. 

 

Bracelets

The fashion for wearing many bracelets at a time fell out of favour. Bracelets where more delicate and refined than ever. 

Tiaras and Bandeaus

Tiaras were lighter and more elaborate as platinum allowed for more intricate and fine designs.  Towards the end of the 1910s, bandeaus started to be worn across the forehead. The meander tiara, with the Greek key motif, was also popular. 

Edwardian lady wearing a bandeau.

Edwardian lady wearing a bandeau.

 

Aigrettes

Aigrettes became all the rage and were worn extensively by the well to do and even, at times, by ordinary woman. 

Rings

Rings were worn stacked and often on nearly every finger. They often had a central stone surrounded by other smaller stones.

Buckles and slides

Buckles, usually associated with the early Victorian and Georgian era, and slides, were worn at the waist to emphasis slender waistlines.  They were also attached to ribbons and worn around the head instead of tiaras or aigrettes. 

Edwardian Lady appearing to have a buckle in her hair. 

Edwardian Lady appearing to have a buckle in her hair. 

 

Mix and match

Parures were no longer in fashion as women worn jewellery of different designs and styles.  The lines between what was worn during the day and what was worn during the evening blurred as a more relaxed approach to jewellery emerged. 

MOTIFS

Textile 

Textile inspired motifs such as garlands and ribbons, bow knots, tassel and fine lace work motifs became extremely prevalent. The garland was such an ubiquitous motif that the Edwardian era is often referred to as 'The Garland Era'. 

A garland motif Edwardian Era platinum, diamond and topaz brooch Christie’s Sale 8127

A garland motif Edwardian Era platinum, diamond and topaz brooch
Christie’s Sale 8127

 

Ornamental

Cartier designers took inspiration from the historical architecture of Paris, whilst other designers sought inspiration from the 18th pattern books and records which began to be published around 1850. 

Oriental 

Inspired by performances such as the Russian Ballet's Schéhérazade in Paris,  tastes turned to all things oriental.  Colourful gems, peacock feathers and Indian flavoured designs took centre stage. 

 

IN CONCLUSION

Although very different in style and materials and manufacuring, The Edwardian aesthetic developed simultaneously to the Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts movements, as well as the German Jugendstil movement and other related design movements. They can been seen as sharing a rejection of the oppressive past and an embracing of freedom and fluidity. This wonderful explosion of elegance, freedom and feminine expresson came to a sudden end with the outbreak of the World War 1, four years after the death of Edward VII. Jewellery manufacturing almost ceased entirely during this period. Precious metals became very hard to come by and platinum, being sought after by the weapons industry, was rarely used until after the war.  We have yet to see a return to the exquisite sensibilities of the Edwardian era, although many have continued to wear and revere the styles. 

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Piqué
Earrings, tortoiseshell inlaid with gold and silver (piqué posé), English, ca. 1850.      Photo copyright of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Earrings, tortoiseshell inlaid with gold and silver (piqué posé), English, ca. 1850.  

Photo copyright of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Piqué work was a method of inlaying gold, silver and sometimes mother of pearl into tortoiseshell and other materials to create truly stunning effects.   Piqué originated in Italy in the mid 1600s and then spread to France where it was further developed as a technique.  The English also enthusiastically adopted the method and English piqué jewelry is the most prevalent.  Jewelry was first made with this technique in the early 1800s and piqué jewelry peaked in popularity in the 1850s to 1880s.  It was considered appropriate for mourning because of the dark colors. It quite abruptly ceased to be made almost entirely by 1885. Earlier designs were much more naturalistic and softer; later designs became more geometric as production methods became more mechanized.

Generally, pure gold and silver were used as the metals.  It is quite difficult to metal test such small amounts of metal but it can generally be assumed that if you have a piece of genuine tortoiseshell and the design is well executed that the gold or silver is high carat.  Sometimes brass was also used. In order to embed the metals, the tortoiseshell was heated up first which caused it to expand and soften whilst the metals were worked in.

There were two types of piqué work: piqué point, in which gold or silver pins are driven into the tortoiseshell or other material to create the design and piqué posé, in which the design is engraved and then threads or small pieces of gold and silver are used to fill it in. You will sometimes hear piqué referred to as piqué d’or but this is only correct when referring to gold piqué work. Two major piqué artisans were:  Laurentini and Charles Boulle.

Christies sale 1447, 14 December 2004, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.     Lot Description ‘A Group of Antique Pique Jewelry. Mid 19th century’

Christies sale 1447, 14 December 2004, New York, Rockefeller Plaza. 

Lot Description ‘A Group of Antique Pique Jewelry. Mid 19th century’

Piqué work was of course worked into different materials other than tortoiseshell, particularly celluloid which can appear quite similar to the untrained eye.  One method for testing for tortoiseshell is to burn a very small place with a hot pin; if you smell burning hair it is most likely to be tortoiseshell.  Another test to see if it is celluloid is to run it under very hot water; if it gives off a plastic smell it is celluloid.  However, the absolute best way is to handle enough pieces so that you know the difference by eye.  Another base material I have seen is wood.  The other materials sometimes used were elephant ivory and horn although less commonly for jewelry.

Today, piqué jewelry is considered extremely collectible.  It can never be made again as of course tortoises and elephants are protected species.  Available Piqué jewelry is therefore only going to become rarer. Piqué jewelry is truly marvelous to behold, very wearable and absolutely beautiful.

Sources / further reading:

http://antiques.about.com/od/victorianandedwardian/a/Pique011810.htm

http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/a-group-of-antique-pique-jewelry-4396864-details.aspx?intObjectID=4396864

http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/jewelry/a-victorian-tortoise-shell-and-citrine-bangle-5285462-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5285462&sid=5dae670b-6768-4e60-8a48-5b68db3d575f  

 

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mosaics

Most mosaic jewelry has traditionally always come from Italy, particularly Rome and Florence, but it also comes from Switzerland and Naples. Even as early as the 18th century, visitors to Italy purchased micro-mosaic jewelry as souvenirs. It became a status symbol in other parts of Europe and America to prove a trip to Italy and mosaic jewelry would sometimes even be sent home ahead as a kind of postcard. With its roots in ancient architectural techniques, micro-mosaic jewelry was verypopular in Europe and the Americas throughout the 18th and 19th century and is still produced today, being considered a cultural treasure worthy of protection by the Italian people.

Generally, the finer and smaller the mosaics are, the older the piece.  Particularly after Industrialization, the mosaic pieces became much larger and less refined. The best way of telling the age of the piece however is to look at the mounting.

Mosaic jewelry can be divided into two basic kinds: 

1) ‘Micro-mosaic’.  Here the jewelryis inlaid with a design made of small pieces of colored glass tube shaped tiles or tesserae on a glass or stone background, usually fixed with cement.  (These small pieces can also sometimes be made from metal, marble or stone although not as often).  When the glass tubes are cut into tiny pieces they are referred to as smalti. In the finest pieces, the design is created with thousands of very tiny colored smalti with no gaps in between. When the smalti  is more than one color, it is referred to as ‘millefiori’ or “1000 flowers”. The expression ‘Millefiori’ is sometimes used to describe ‘micro-mosaic’.  The glass for micro-mosaic is usually produced in Venice. Micro-mosaic jewelry has traditionally been produced in Rome. Micro-mosaic is actually a form of pontillism (using dots of color). It is a considered a derivative of the Roman Opus Vermiculatum mosaic style.

Micro-mosaic, black glass, gold frame brooch, Rome, Italy, 1820-1830   The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Micro-mosaic, black glass, gold frame brooch, Rome, Italy, 1820-1830
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

2) ‘Pietra dura’ or ‘Pietre dure’ jewelry, literally meaning ‘hard stone’, is also sometimes referred to as Florentine. Here hard stones such as chalcedony, agate, marble, jasper, and lapis lazuli, are laid flat to create the design. Rather than being a true mosaic, pietra dura is actually created more like a jigsaw puzzle. Pietra dura is traditionally produced in Florence. Pietra dura normally uses black marble as the foundation. Florentine designs normally use larger tiles than Roman micro-mosaic. Pietra dura is thought to be derived from the Roman opus sectile mosaic style.  Popular during the Renaissance era, pietra dura enjoyed a revival throughout the 19th century.

Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold.   The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold.
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Mosaic work jewellery of the 18th and 19th century often depicted famous Italian tourist attractions such as the Vatican Square as well as scenes from Roman mythology. Well-to-do travelers during the Grand Tour Era in which a trip to Italy was obligatory, would sometimes commission their own designs, favoring animals and famous paintings. Later in the 19th century and in modern recent time, designs become simpler and bolder and more decorative rather than figurative.  The value of the piece is greatly determined not only by the fineness of the mosaic work, but also by the base metal. There are many later pieces on the market which do not have a great value, although they are still attractive.

Generally, the Italian jewelry artisans most considered to have been responsible for the development and introduction of Italian mosaic jewelry were Giacomo Raffaelli, who created a micro-mosaic brooch in the 1770s, and Castellini who pioneered a new style for mosaics using gold wires to separate the pieces in 1850.

Doves of Pliny micro-mosaic, attributed to   Giacomo Raffaelli  , circa 1770

Doves of Pliny micro-mosaic, attributed to Giacomo Raffaelli, circa 1770

 

Sources / further reading:

http://www.micro-mosaic.com/

http://romanmicromosaic.com/

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Mosaics_in_Jewelry

http://www.dipintiantichi.net/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietra_dura

http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/opificio_delle_pietre_dure.html

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Castellani  

 

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.