Georgian Jewellery exhibits particularly fine craftsmanship with almost everything made by hand. The jewellery was often large and consisted of natural designs with many colours and asymmetrical baroque pearls. Jewellery was made of silver and gold and stones were usually closed in at the back. The gemstones of this period had many fewer facets than modern stones as the technology to cut hard stones like diamonds was in its infancy.
The Victorian period saw rapid change in jewellery design with the rising middle classes buying precious jewellery for the first time. Designs were often influenced by the international influences of the growing empire fashions were triggered by the rising interest in archaeology and ancient cultures. This gave rise to many different styles of Victorian jewellery such as ornate Etruscan Jewellery and Egyptian styles often incorporating scarab beetles.
After the death of Prince Albert in contrast to the vibrant and colourful styles before, jewellery became dark and "in mourning."
After time jewellery started to incorporate more colourful stones such as sapphire, peridot and amethyst jewellery to accompany the new found ability to produce synthetically coloured fabrics such as purple (previously only afforded by royalty.)
The late Victorian period saw an ever rising use of diamonds in jewellery with Cecil Rhodes discoveries in South Africa and the beginnings of the DeBeers empire.
Designs were often made in the form of diamond set stars and crescent brooches. To enhance the whiteness of the stones the yellow gold was fronted with silver. In modern times the silver has often oxidised giving Victorian jewellery a blackened old appearance.
Art Nouveau 1890-1910
Overlapping with traditional Victorian jewellery, the Art Nouveau school created an organic rounded style incorporating scrolls, flowers and mystical figures.
A new century and a new King brought many changes in the style of Jewellery with trends now flowing from the tastes of Queen Alexandra rather than Victoria.
Although discovered some time earlier it was in this period the use of platinum in jewellery first became widespread. Early pieces were fronted with platinum and backed with gold as a superior metal to the Victorian silver fronted jewellery. In time the whole piece was made in platinum.
Jewellery designs became finer and more refined with platinum lace work and filigree epitomised by the Belle Époque style.
Art Deco 1920-1935
The twenties saw an incredible revolution in design known as the Art Deco school. Across all areas of design from architecture to furniture, new bold forms were created using smooth lines, abstract shapes and geometric patterns. Many consider this the golden age of jewellery making where the hand skills of the craftsman reached their peak combining the best materials available from around the world with innovative design.
1940's - Cocktail Period
Due to outbreak of war, precious metals become scarce resulting in a return to gold from platinum and the introduction of 9Ct gold to make scarce resources stretch further.
Designs made a sharp turnaround from the sharp lines and angles of the Art Deco period becoming rounder and more 3 dimensional. Many different coloured golds were often used to maximum effect with rose and white coloured gold being widely used for the first time.
With the end of the war, fashion embraced bright colours and pastel shades of pink and blue with jewellery often incorporating turquoise and coral.
The boom that followed the war saw an unprecedented expansion in the jewellery industry with an ever increasing number of new techniques for mass producing jewellery for any budget.
Over the last 50 years styles have gone back and forth often influenced more by Hollywood actresses than Royalty.