Jewelry dates back almost to the beginning of mankind. Adornment with rocks, sticks, shells and natural fibers have been added on to make a person feel beautiful, or to stand out amoung their peers. In today's world it is no different. We are always searching for a piece of history, or the perfect treasure that we can enjoy and pass on to a loved one.

GEORGIAN PERIOD          1720-1820
VICTORIAN PERIOD         1837-1901
EDWARDIAN PERIOD       1901-1914
This period ran alongside the art nouveau period and its popularity was mostly due to king edward of england.
ART DECO PERIOD            LATE 1920's-1930's
RETRO PERIOD                   1940's-1950's
MODERN PERIOD               1960-PRESENT

VICTORIAN PERIOD     1837-1901

With the reign of Queen Victoria; Great Britain, like France, became a major jewelry center. The industrial revolution was creating a growing middle class that used jewelry to flaunt its newfound wealth. With the machine age came the ability to mine precious metals and gemstones better and faster and to mass produce jewelry (edited by adam knisley). Up until this time, jewelry was custom made and very individualized. Now, for the first time jewelry was available in larger quantities for less money. With the romantic image of the young Queen Victoria and her beloved Prince Albert, jewelry fashions changed. Seed Pearls, Shell Cameos, strands of Pearls and small Colored Stones, such as Garnets, Amethysts and Topaz were fashionable. Cameos were plentiful and carved from many materials including:

1. Stone which included Onyx and Banded Agate,
2. Shell Cameos,
3. Jet Cameos, (fossilized driftwood)
4. Lava stone cameos (limestone and volcanic particles)

What to look for in a good Cameo?

1. Is it well carved, complete? damaged?
2. Is it original or a reproduction?
3. Is it shell or stone?
4. Does it have a signature?
5. Does the subject have a nice, visual impact?
6. Is it better than average?

With the death of Prince Albert in 1861, fashionable jewelry changed drastically. Queen Victoria adopted heavy, somber jewelry to express her grief. Typical materials:
1. Jet, (fossilized driftwood)
2. Black onyx,
3. Tortoise shell
4. Hair (usually horse hair), often set into heavy gold work.

Examples of this included:
Jewelry with Enamel inscriptions
Photographs on Tin called Daguerreotypes
Brooches and lockets with photographs of the deceased
Rings, bracelets, watch chains and lockets with hair, or hair inside the treasures.

ART NOUVEAU     1890-1915

By the late 19th century, Victorian dignity was challenged by a stronger counter-culture movement in all the decorative arts. Art Nouveau burst upon Europe and America alike with its romantic light-hearted glory, and flowing, swirling, dainty lines. Slim figures appeared in art and jewelry as well. An Art Nouveau trademark is the head of a girl with a dreamy expression and swirling hair. Dragonflies with their long delicate transparent wings, and peacocks with their iridescent colors ane stylized floral themes. Lots of enamel and Plique A Jour were used. Plique is the pulling of enamel through wire to give it a stained glass look. While established jewelers continued to use Diamonds and Pearls in the new dainty styles, French jeweler Rene Lalique extended his innovative look to Ivory, Horn, Carved Glass and Enamel. Gemstones like Opals and Moonstones were often used in fine jewelry. One American whose delicate designs and exquisite enameling left a strong impression on the Art Nouveau period was Louis Comfort Tiffany.


When Queen Victoria's son, Edward became king, happy days were here again. A joyous return to elegance in styling, clothing and jewelry occurred. Jewelry complimented the laces, silks and feathers worn by Edwardian ladies. Diamonds were in profusion, either alone or with colored stones. Pearls were also very popular. Because of the metal strength of Platinum, Yellow Gold was replaced as the metal of choice for jewelry. White Gold was used for the first time. Edwardian jewelry was an engineering marvel. Delicate filigree work could now be fashioned to resemble lace. Filigree jewelry was everywhere, including Brooches, Bracelets, Earrings, Tiaras and beautiful delicate and lacy Diamond Rings. With king edwards love of elegance, fashionable men's jewelry came into its own.

1. Every fashionable man would sport a Monocle. Lorgnettes for both sexes. These glasses were embedded with Gold, Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds and Enamel.
2. Gold, Jeweled Monocle cases
3. Gold match or stamp case boxes
4. Propelling pencils in Gold with colored stones at the top.
5. Walking sticks or canes with Gold tops
6. The Gold Albert vest chain - No fashionable man would be without one.
7. Gold Pocket Watches for men and women
8. Gold seals for letters
9. Watch charms called watch fobs for watch chains
10. Gold and Pearl Enamel cuff links, and signet rings with Diamond centers.
11. Gold and diamond shirt front buttons
12. Tie rings, tie pins and cravat pins
13. Many varieties of stick pins

At one point in time, the Edwardian Period was going on along side the Art Nouveau Period.

ART DECO     1920 - 1935

The soft tones of Art Nouveau gave way to a bolder, more sophisticated look. Flappers were in and so was Art Deco. Born in France, Art Deco erupted in the United States at the time when women - Who had done men's jobs while the men went off to war - Started expressing their new freedom: They bobbed their hair, they smoked and drank in public, and they shortened their skirts. They whole-heartedly adopted flamboyant, geometric styles of Art Deco. Examples included: streamlined, enameled pieces, often in bold colors, enhanced with the angular look in clothing and design. Color combinations in gemstones were bold and bright. Rubies were set next to Emeralds in massive brooches; Coral and Lapis or Jade were frequently used together. Clocks and watches changed from the round look to rectangular fashion styles. Many of the beautiful buildings in New York and other large cities are in the art deco flavor with their lobbies still intact with the steel geometric lines and layered, stepped look. The most famous of all is the Empire State Building which looms above the new york skyline.

RETRO PERIOD     1935 - Early 1950's

Luxury production halted in Europe because all Platinum and most Gold and Silver were needed to fund World War II. During this period, American jewelry came into its own. Influenced by Hollywood stars, jewelry became flamboyant. Huge stones in oversized creations emerged. Much of this jewelry was mounted in Rose, Green and or Yellow Gold. Depending on which alloy was used with the gold. While Platinum and White Gold were still used in engagement and wedding rings, colored Gold was definitely in vogue. Mined gold when polished is bright yellow. To make Gold Pink or Rosy we add Copper to the Yellow Gold. To make Gold White, we add Nickel or Silver. After the United States entered the war, jewelry that was still being made was less romantic but still outsized. This trend continued until after the war when styles again softened. One distinct trend to emerge after the war, was the use of Yellow Gold. Yellow Gold was now being used in the whole item instead of just as an accent. Pins, bracelets and other baubles were now starting to made of Yellow Gold. Circle pins and elaborate animals and flowers can be traced to the 1950's.

****remember gold was less than $30 an ounce and a 3 carat diamond ring could still be purchased for $1000-1200. *****

MODERN PERIOD     1960's - 1999

During this period, jewelry was mostly made of Yellow Gold. Some Diamonds and all colored stones were set in Yellow Gold- The beautiful Edwardian, Filigree & Platinum Rings were being exchanged for Yellow Gold. Platinum & White Gold mountings were melted or scrapped. The biggest trend of this Modern Period was Tennis Bracelets in Yellow Gold. Channel set Egagement Rings were in, and you know the rest...

21ST CENTURY     2000- ?

Platinum & White Gold have exploded once again as the metals of choice. We have gone full circle.

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