This jewelry style was named for the four Kings named George who ruled England during this period. The designs are bold, ornate, and symmetrical. Bows and swags were popular motifs, and the techniques of chasing and repoussé were often used. Garnets, topaz, coral, and diamonds were fashionable, set in high karat yellow gold and silver settings. The diamonds in jewelry from this time were usually rose cut or table cut and often foil backed to give them more shine.
Victorian jewelry was named after Britain’s Queen Victoria, and includes different styles that were popular during her reign. Sentimental jewelry was in demand and many people had lockets, brooches or pendants made with human hair from loved ones. After Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria wanted to remain fashionable while in mourning and “mourning jewelry” was created using jet and other black materials. Neo-Classical designs based on archeological finds in Greece and Rome were also popular, as well as Egyptian and Assyrian themes. Other recurrent designs included crescent shapes, snakes, and cameos. The gemstones most commonly used in Victorian jewelry were diamonds, jet, garnets, amethyst, coral, turquoise, tortoise shell, and chalcedony, and were often set in silver and yellow gold. Diamonds were usually rose cuts or early brilliant cuts.
Art Nouveau is French for “new art.” This style was greatly influenced by the Japanese art that was being imported to Europe at the time. It is also seen as an artistic revolt against the mechanical themes and methods of manufacture that came out of the Industrial Revolution. Nouveau designs were more organic and asymmetrical. The jewelry incorporated sweeping and flowing lines with natural motifs such as flowers, insects, birds, and the female form. Diamonds were uncommon in this style and overshadowed by the use of colorful enamels and glass, and gemstones such as pearls, opals, amber, moonstone, tourmaline, amethyst, and chalcedony. Noted Art Nouveau designers were Rene Lalique, a glass designer renowned for his stunning creations of perfume bottles, vases, jewelry, chandeliers, clocks, and, in the latter part of his life, automobile hood ornaments, and Louis Comfort Tiffany, who designed stained glass windows and lamps (hence Tiffany lamps), glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels and metalwork.
This style of jewelry was named for England’s King Edward VII. During his reign, jewelry was flaunted as a statement of wealth. Edwardian jewelry was made using the finest gemstones and precious metals. Use of platinum in jewelry became widespread and was valued not just for its pure color,1 but for its strength as well. Platinum’s strength and durability allowed for more intricate designs and the use of delicate filigree. Edwardian jewelry is distinctive for its white-on-white look using fine platinum filigree set with top quality pearls and diamonds.
Art Deco design came into vogue after the end of WWI. The forms were bolder and geometric compared to the delicate Edwardian and flowing Art Nouveau styles that predated Art Deco. Strong, contrasting colors were achieved using richly hued gemstones such as diamonds, black onyx, lapis lazuli, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, jade, turquoise, and coral. Platinum was the most common metal used, but jewelry was also crafted from white gold. Designs were streamlined, linear, and geometric.
During WWII, gemstones and platinum were in short supply so gold and enamel became very popular. Different colors of gold such as rose and green were used along with yellow gold to enhance the design and make up for the lack of color from gemstones. Retro jewelry is characterized by flowers and bows, animal figures, and industrial-inspired designs. Gemstones that were lighter in color such as citrines, aquamarines, and amethysts as well as smaller diamonds, sapphires, and rubies were used sparingly as accents.