Ring Size Guide

Ring Size Guide How To Find Your Ring Size

Firstly make sure that your finger is at normal temperature, before measuring it. If your finger is cold then it will shrink or if your finger is hot it will expand, giving you an incorrect measurement. To measure accurately you will need a ruler or measuring tape, a pen and a 150mm x 15mm piece of paper. Place the piece of paper around the base of your finger and mark with the pen where it overlaps. Then using your ruler or tape, measure from the line back to the start of the paper. This measurement will give you the inside circumference. Then you can use the ring size chart below to find your size. If you are between ring sizes then it is best to choose the larger size. The other method for finding your ring size is to measure one of your old rings. When measuring a ring that already fits you, measure the inside of the ring at its widest point. This measurement with be the inside diameter and by using the chart below you will be able to find your ring size. We hope this ring size guide was helpful to you, but in the event that you are still unsure. Please contact us and we will be more than happy to assist you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Modern Jewellery 1960s Onwards

Modern Jewellery

The Modern Jewellery era began in the sixties, which saw a huge sea change in the social norms. There was widespread rejection of the establishment by a new generation, who ushered in a new era of change. There was a sense of freedom and a “can do” attitude. This lead to an explosion of new styles in 1960s jewellery. Multi strand faceted glass, plastic and crystal bead necklaces were suddenly the height of fashion. Yellow gold was very popular during the sixties, as were cabochon turquoise, coral and brilliant round cut diamonds. Organic abstract designs with vibrant colours were also a recurring theme of the period. Shorter hairstyles became fashionable and as a result earrings became larger almost statement pieces. Day and night earrings saw a revival, these earrings were designed in two parts. With the smaller part being worn during the day as a stud and the extension piece being added for evening wear. One theme that did continue from the fifties was parures. A parure is a complete set of at least three matching pieces of jewellery. A matching set with less than three items is called a demi-parure. From a collectors point of view a complete parure in it`s original box is worth far more than without the box. These jewellery sets continued to be very popular right throughout the sixties.

Jewellery trends in the 1970s were all about large, attention grabbing statement pieces. Early 70s jewellery designs were influenced by ethnic patterns, which was popular with the bohemian style at that time. These ethnic inspired designs were largely made from natural materials such as stone, wood, shell and mother of pearl. Earth tone colours such as brown, cream, green and dark orange were often used in these ethnic designs. The other trend in 70s jewellery was disco inspired designs. This jewellery was all about the sparkle and the bling, which was intended to shine and reflect in the newly opened discos. Necklaces were worn in layers, some with medallions or charms attached.

1980s jewellery continued the loud and bold theme of the 70s. Large colourful beaded necklaces, huge earrings and shoulder pads were all the height of fashion. Oversized clip on hoop earrings, faux pearl earrings and disc earrings were very common in the 80s. Large gold plated pendants and colourful beads were commonly worn necklaces. Bracelets again tended to be large and bold. With thick bangles or multiple thin bangles being favoured. Television series such as Dallas and Dynasty were hugely popular and typifies 1980s fashion.

How To Date Modern Jewellery

Estate jewellery is generally divided into antique, vintage or secondhand. Antique jewellery is an item which is 100 or more years old. Vintage jewellery is classed as between 25 and 100 years old. Secondhand jewellery is any item of jewellery which is less than 25 years old. To get an accurate time frame of how old an item of jewellery is. We must look at a number of areas, the findings, the materials and the style of the piece. The findings are the working parts of an item. Which a jeweler normally does not make themselves but rather will buy from a wholesaler. Over the years there have being advances in these findings which gives us a time line to follow. Popular findings of modern jewellery were bullet clutches and friction backs for post earrings. Lobster claw clasps and spring ring clasps were common findings for necklaces. For bracelets the most popular findings would be push in box clasps or tongue in groove box clasps. The patina on an item can also be of help when trying to date it. The patina on a modern piece of jewellery should be very light and in keeping with its age. Wear and tear marks again on an item of modern jewellery should be very light.

 

Illustrated below are some of the important dates of Modern Jewellery.

1961 – Princess cut diamond developed.

1967 – Tanzanite discovered.

 

1970 – Omega earring backs invented.

1973 – Synthetic Alexandrite invented by Creative Crystals.

1979 – Sugilite appears on the market.

1979 – Main pipe of Arggle diamond mine discovered.

1985 – Debeers start producing synthetic diamonds.

1990 – Diffusion treated sapphires developed.

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Mid-Century Jewellery 1950s

Mid-Century Jewellery

The term Mid-Century generally covers the design style of the 1950s. It received its name in 1984 from a book called “Mid-Century Modern : furniture of the 1950s”. Suburban California in the 1950s pretty accurately sums up architectural and interior design of the time. Low flat roofs with lots of large windows and an emphasis on horizontal lines. This was a clean almost minimalist look which was common throughout all areas of design during the 50s. Designers wanted their work to become affordable and available to the average person. As opposed to being available just to the wealthy as in previous generations. This requirement of designers lead to the mass production of quality designs. These iconic goods were snapped up by a postwar prosperous middle class. Making items such as the television commonplace in the home for the first time. Mid-Century jewellery also reflected this change, with new modern designs being produced.

Mid-Century jewellery tended to take two very different paths. The established jewellery houses such as Van Clerf & Arpels, Tiffanys, Cartier and Harry Winston. Produced jewellery with more traditional designs and with an emphasis on the quality of the gems used. DeBeers at this time were promoting the slogan “Diamonds are Forever” and aiming to provide diamonds to every income level. The other path which fifties jewellery took was more “modernist”. This style was dominated by clean lines and geometric shapes. Designers were rejecting the bold and colourful statement pieces of the previous Retro era. Crafting most of their designs in silver partly because of the Scandinavian influence which was prevalent at the time. But also because of the designers wishes to have their work affordable, which was in keeping with the Bauhaus movement. Costume jewellery or fashion jewellery as it is now known, was quite popular during the fifties. Large polished stone beads, faceted plastic beads and faux pearls. Along with carved bakelite, diamante and lucite jewellery were commonly seen in Mid-Century jewellery. Louis Kramer of New York was one of the best known costume jewellery designers of the 50s. With his two brothers Harry and Morris he not only designed costume jewellery but also manufactured it. Their work was hallmarked “Kramer”, “Kramer N.Y.” or “Kramer of New York”. Louis designed beautiful floral designs with bright vibrant colours. He also produced designs for Christian Dior which were hallmarked “Dior by Kramer”. The complete sets of jewellery called “Parure” which he designed for Christian Dior. Are considered to be his finest work and are highly collectible  today.

How To Date Mid-Century Jewellery

To date Mid-Century jewellery it is best to start with the findings (clasps). These findings will help to narrow the time period which the item in question is from. Clip on earrings were widely used during the fifties, as were push in box clasps for necklaces. Hallmarks or signatures on a piece can also yield a lot of information, which will help to narrow the date even further. After this the next step would be to examine the style of the item. Contemporary designs made from silver were a common theme of Mid-Century jewellery. These pieces were dominated by clean sharp lines and symmetrical patterns. Jewellery designs were more reserved than those in the previous Retro era, which favoured bold colourful displays. Motifs of animals, plants, flowers, butterflies and stars along with geometric patterns were a mainstay for 1950s jewellery. Enamel and semi precious gems such as Lapis were widely used, giving a splash of colour in silver items such as butterflies and floral displays. Short choker length necklaces, usually single strands were the height of fashion. Costume jewellery also featured strongly in the fifties. With designers Trifari, Coro and Miriam Haskell being some of the better known. Trifari produced their iconic fruit and veg brooches during the 50s, along with their ever popular crown shaped designs. Coro are remembered during the 50s for their stunning duette brooches, which are highly prized today. Miriam Haskell created beautiful filigree pieces with faux pearls and crystal beads. It was only in 1950 when her brother took over the company did her work begin to be signed. Complete matching sets of jewellery known as “parure” or sets of two matching items called “demi parure” were also a common feature in Mid-Century jewellery.

Illustrated below are some of the important dates of Mid-Century Jewellery.

1954 – GE produced first synthetic diamonds.

1955 – Oval cut diamonds popularized.

1955 – Aurora Borealis coating for beads introduced by Swarovski.

1960 – Opal triplets invented.

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Retro Jewellery 1940s

Retro Jewellery

Retro jewellery also called cocktail jewellery generally covers the period from the late 1930s to the 1940s. It was a period of jewellery history which was greatly influenced by world war II. Leading to large, bold and colourful statement pieces becoming popular. The war as can be imagined send Europe into disarray. Jewellery manufacturing firms closed down and many designers left for America to find safety. Later in the period this vaccum allowed American jewellery companies to gain market share in Europe. The war also effected the supply of platinum, leading to an increased use of gold. During this time more copper and other metals were added to gold in order to made it more affordable. This had the effect of changing the golds colour slightly. As a result rose and green gold can be commonly seen in retro jewellery along with yellow gold. During the war years, remodeling of old jewellery was often the only way to get a new piece. If exiting jewellery was to be remodeled in France at this time. Then it was normal to have a percentage of the gold content taken by the state for the war. Techniques were also developed such as the manufacturing of snake chain to make gold look chunky while using as little gold as possible. This snake chain or gas pipe as it is sometimes called was used in necklaces and bracelets throughout the 1940s. In keeping with this frugal theme, combinations of semi-precious gemstones were often set together without diamonds.

Retro jewellery is a blend of futuristic design mixed with design elements from the past. This mix of designs gives 1940s jewellery a very unique and distinct air, making it very popular with collectors. There were bright colourful designs of flowers, butterflies and flamboyant bows along with multi strand bead necklaces commonly worn. These beautiful bold designs softened the often dull almost masculine wartime fashions. Hollywood with all it`s glitz and glamour also greatly influenced retro jewellery. The silver screen brought sophistication and a playful quality to jewellery. Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner and Ava Gardner are all remembered for this air of old Hollywood glamour. Convertible pieces of jewellery were also a common feature of this period. With designs of earrings which would join together to form a bracelet and bracelets that could convert into necklaces. Semi – precious gemstones such as amethyst, aquamarine and citrine were commonly used. These gems typically used as large emerald cut stones, produced those icon bold statement pieces. Dress clips and bracelet designs also tended to be large statement pieces. Since the 1970s Retro jewellery has become very collectable. Making designers Trafari, Miriam Haskell, Corocraft, Dior, Cartier, Napier, Chanel and Monet highly sought after.

How To Date Retro Jewellery

To date antique or vintage jewellery it is best to start with the findings. The findings would typically be the pins, hinges and clasps that a jeweler will buy instead of making themselves. As these findings changed over the decades they have left us a timeline to follow. The findings are also the most obvious place to spot any repairs which may have being done over the years. After examining the findings the hallmarks should be carefully looked at. These hallmarks can tell us not only the metals purity but also the maker and sometimes the date of manufacture. The dominate themes of Retro jewellery are feminine, industrial and patriotic. The feminine styles would typically be represented by flowers, bows, ribbons, scrolls and birds. The industrial theme would normally be represented by tank tread bracelets, which have large repetitive links like tank tracks. These repetitive link chains also represented an industrial production line. Something a lot of people had to become familiar with due to the war. The patriotic theme of Retro jewellery was often represented by military type insignias such as the iconic US jeep. The trend in rings at this time was for large emerald cut semi-precious stones, such as citrines and aquamarines. Clip on earrings depicting floral bouquets, ribbons and buttons where very popular. Emerald or step cut gemstones were also commonly used clip on earrings. Ballerina brooches were a common sight in Retro jewellery. As were motifs of folded fabric, flowers, flowing ribbons and animals. Combinations of semi-precious gemstones dominate brooches of this period, providing that all important splash of colour. When it came to bracelets “the bigger the better” was the fashion of the day. Wide bracelets made from snake chain, bicycle chain and tank tracks were hugely popular. Woven and braided bracelets with large detachable brooches were also common at this time. Necklaces as with earrings and bracelets often had a convertible element to them. With pendants doubling as a brooch or a bracelet and earrings joining to form a bracelet. Snake chain and other repetitive link chains tended to be worn short, but with a chunky look. Bib necklaces were also a feature of Retro jewellery.

Illustrated below are some of the important dates of Retro Jewellery.

1937 – Lucite introduced by Du Pont.

1939 – Double hinged fur clip invented.

1940 – Tongue in groove box clasp.

1942 – Platinum prohibited for jewellery, sterling silver used to replace it.

1945 – Mexico requires “spread eagle” hallmark on sterling silver.

1946 – Opal doubles introduced.

1947 – Christian Dior`s “New Look”.

1947 – Costume jewellery manufacturers.

 

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Art Deco Jewellery 1920 to 1935

Art Deco Jewellery

The Art Deco period started in 1920 and continued until 1935. It received it`s name from the International Exposition Of Modern Decorative And Industrial Arts, held in Paris in 1925. The 1920`s saw a period of sustained economic growth, often called the “Roaring Twenties”. During these years consumer confidence and demand for luxury goods skyrocketed. Everything from cars to telephones and from houses to movies was mass produced, leading to unprecedented industrial growth. The style of design known as Art Deco originated in Europe and as it grew in popularity, it quickly spread around the world. Art Deco influenced all areas of design from architecture to jewellery. Reaching it`s peak architecturally with the construction of the Chrysler building in New York . A remarkable building which was the tallest building of it`s day. Art Deco features strong geometric shapes, abstract patterns and Egyptian motifs. Which became popular after the opening of Tutankhamen`s tomb in 1922. Other influences were cubism and the indigenous people of the Americas. All of these influences filtered down into jewellery design, making Art Deco jewellery unmistakably recognisable.

Art Deco jewellery is defined by clean sharp lines, stepped surfaces, arched corners and geometric patterns. Making it one of the most easily recognizable  jewellery periods. Art Deco jewelers were influenced by motifs from Egyptian and Aztec cultures. Producing designs of pyramids, stepped ziggurates and symmetrical arrangements. This style of jewellery often reflected architectural and industrial elements. Gemstones cut in geometric shapes, such as emeralds, baguettes and triangle cuts were very popular. Gems such as black onyx, coral, lapis and rock crystal along with the traditional cardinal gemstones were also very popular. These strong coloured gems were often set with lighter coloured stones. Creating a bold contrasting effect. Pendants worn long, large dress rings and double clip brooches were all in fashion during this period. As were accessories such as cigarette cases and compacts. These enduring designs have remained popular to this day. Making Art Deco jewellery one of the most sought after periods in jewellery history.

How To Date Art Deco Jewellery

Dating Art Deco jewellery is relatively easy, when compared to other periods. Due to it`s very unique designs which are dominated by rigid lines and Egyptian motifs. Having that said there are still a number of areas we should examine. Starting with the items patina, which should have an aged look along with a reasonable amount of wear in keeping with it`s age. When examining the patina it is also worth noting if the piece has been repaired. Signs that it has been repaired will be more obvious around the findings, where you may see newer solder. The findings if original are also a great source of information when it comes to dating jewellery. For example gem studded push in box clasps were very commonly used in Art Deco jewellery. Earrings tended to be worn long and were of feminine design. This trend was in response to changing fashion, where women opted for shorter hairstyles. These long dangling earrings were typically geometrically designed and had contrasting colours. There was also a tendency to use a number of differently cut diamonds or gems in the same earring. Necklaces again in keeping with the earrings were typically worn quite long. These multi strand long necklaces of beads or pearls would be knotted and end in a tassel or large pendant. Producing the iconic image of the 1920`s. These large pendants were typically elongated and often featured stepped or raised surfaces. Dress rings tended to be quite large in Art Deco jewellery, with emeralds and aquamarines becoming very popular. These again in keeping with the style of the day, were dominated by geometric shapes. Typically a large coloured stone with an emerald cut would be made the center piece. This would then be flanked on either side and / or down the shoulders by a contrasting stone. This theme of contrasting colours proved to be very popular in Art Deco jewellery and it`s use was widespread. With the invention of the double clip brooch by Coro in 1931. Which could be used as a brooch or as two dress clips. Dual purpose jewellery became quite fashionable. There were earrings which would split in two, allowing the shorter piece to be worn during the day. Then the other part was attached for evening wear, these earrings were called day and night earrings. There were also pendants designed which would double up as brooches.

Illustrated below are some of the important dates of Art Deco Jewellery.

1920 – Post & clutch earrings.

1925 – Synthetic spinels in commercial use.

1926 – Earring guard patented.

1931 – Coro patents the “duette ”  double clip.

1932 – 12K & 15K gold replace in Britain by 14K.

1933 – Invisible setting patented by Artier & Van Cleef & Arpels.

1934 – Clip on earrings patented by Ballou.

1934 – Synthetic emeralds first used.

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Edwardian Jewellery 1901 to 1914

Edwardian Jewellery

The Edwardian period started in 1901 with reign of King Edward VII and lasted for four years after his death until 1914. This era corresponds to the Art Nouveau era and the Belle Epoque era of continental Europe. It is also the last jewellery period to be named after an English monarch. Edward VII was a lighthearted and fun loving man, with a reputation as a playboy. Who was considered the height of sophistication and fashion. He loved to travel and took extensive tours of north America and India. He also had a keen interest in horse racing and owned a number of winning race horses, which made horseshoes popular motifs in Edwardian jewellery. The Edwardian period was a prosperous and peaceful time. That was seen as a golden age, filled with long carefree summer days, endless garden parties and handlebar moustaches. This was the age when people started to go on holidays for the first time, typically to the seaside. As the middle classes grew in size and in wealth, jewelers responded by producing new elegant and feminine designs.

Edwardian jewellery was refined and elegant. Almost as if the metal had be woven like lace. These intricate filigree patterns were studded with diamonds held in place by near invisible settings. This lace like jewellery perfectly complemented the fashion of the day. Which was dominated by long flowing dresses made of lace and silk. With flamboyant hats topped with veils, flowers and / or feathers. Elaborate diamond studded chokers were very fashionable during this time. As were classical motifs of bows, laurel wreaths and scrolls. Rose cut diamonds set in platinum , a technique called ” white on white ” was considered the height of fashion. Pearls set in platinum were also another favorite in Edwardian jewellery.

 

How To Date Edwardian Jewellery

When trying to date Edwardian Jewellery. There are a number of areas we need to examine, the findings, the hallmarks, the metal, the gemstones and the style of the piece. The findings are usually a very reliable way to date jewellery. Findings are parts which a goldsmith will buy as opposed to making himself. Over the centuries these findings have developed and so they leave us with a timeline to follow. When examining the findings it should also be noticeable if the has been any repairs done to the piece. The hallmarks if any on an item, can tell us quite a bit of information. It can tell us not only the purity of the metal but also the maker and date. After 1906 hallmarks were required on jewellery by law.  Although the Art Nouveau movement favoured the design above the materials used. The Edwardian jewelers still held fast to the intrinsic value. This can be seen with the continued use of the five traditional cardinal gemstones. Advances in platinum around this time allowed jewelers to create very delicate feminine pieces. Something which was not possible before with the use of gold due to it`s relative softness. This style became know as the garland style and was dominated by open framework designs. As a result platinum quickly became popular and was extensively used in Edwardian jewellery. In 1908 the colours of the suffragette movement were announced as green, white and violet. After which jewellery containing these colours became very popular. This suffragette jewellery was manufactured and worn up until 1914. After which time it was considered unpatriotic to wear any due to the outbreak of WW1. Jewellery would subsequently remain shelved until 1920, the beginning of Art Deco period.

Illustrated below are some of the important dates of Edwardian Jewellery.

1902 – Flame fusion invent for synthetic rubies.

1905 – Spherical cultured pearls grown by Mikimoto

1906 – Synthetic spinels invented.

1906 – Hallmarks required for gold & silver.

1909 – Bakelite invented.

1908 – 1914 Suffragette jewellery. Colours : green, white & violet.

1912 – Lever catch used in US.

1914 – Platinum declared a strategic metal for WW1. No further supplies available for jewellery.

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Art Nouveau Jewellery 1890 to 1915

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau meaning “new art” was a movement which started in Europe in 1890 and lasted until about 1915. The movement took it`s inspiration from nature. With flowers, plants and organic flowing lines dominating. Designers were particularly interested in strong curves or vine like patterns. These designs became known as “whiplash lines” and were very common during the earlier part of the period. Due in part to the influence of Japanese woodblock prints, which were very popular. This style was very influential on the mass produced posters and glass art of the period. As a style, Art Nouveau is considered to be a “total” art style. Which influenced all art and design, from architecture to jewellery. This widespread influence reached it`s peak in the Paris World`s Fair of 1900. Where art was sold as a way of life, inspiring people to live art as opposed to admiring it.

During the Georgian and Victorian periods, precious stones were highly prized and diamonds in particular. Due to their value, these gemstones were very rarely if ever cut to suit a design. Rather it was the jewelers job to design the best setting possible to suit a given stone. Art Nouveau jewellery completely changed this approach. With much more emphasis now being placed on the design above the materials used. This had the effect of turning the jeweler into an artist. Where as in earlier times the jeweler was seen more as a craftsman. Now the jewelers of Europe introduced new floral designs in enamel, glass, ivory and semi-precious stones. Plique-a-jour enameling meaning “glimpse of day” was revived during this period and proved to be very popular. This enameling technique was normally used in winged or webbed structures. Where it will have no backing, allowing the light to shine through the translucent enamel. This technique produced a stained glass effect and was considered to be technically very challenging. Plique-a-jour was used in a myriad of ways and especially in insects. Art Nouveau jewellery was trying to transport the wearer to a magical place. A place of exotic animals with beautiful plants and flowers. All made with sensual flowing lines. The artists wanted to re-create a lost age of innocence. Where people were more in touch with nature. This longing for paradise was driven by the upheaval of the industrial revolution. Where millions of people left the countryside to find work in the towns and cities.

The jewelers of Paris produced some of the very best examples of Art Nouveau jewellery. With jewellery designer Rene Lalique being the most famous. Rene Lalique was educated in London. Where he attended the Crystal Palace School of Art Sydenham. It was here at this art college, he developed his naturalistic approach to art. When he returned to France he worked as a freelance artist. Designing jewellery for the great jewellery houses of France, such as Jacta, Boucheron and Cartier. Then in 1885 he opened his own workshop and quickly became recognized as a leading Art Nouveau jewellery designer. One of his most famous pieces is the Dragonfly Lady, seen here on the left.

How To Date Art Nouveau Jewellery

To date Art Nouveau jewellery, we must look at a number of areas. Start with the findings which are a very good indication of age. Findings are the parts , which a jeweler will typically buy in as opposed to making themselves. In the chart below there is shown the advances in findings for the period. Along with examining the findings, the item`s patina should be examined. On an old piece there should be a deep patina, with signs of wear in keeping with it`s age. It is at this stage you should notice if there have been any repairs done to the item. This will be most noticeable around areas which have been soldered recently. These areas will look newer than the other surrounding areas. Next examine the piece to see if it contains a hallmark. This hallmarks can reveal not only the precious metal it is made from but also the manufacturer. Next area to examine is the gemstones which the item may contain. Rose cut and old mine cut gemstones were very popular during the Art Nouveau period. After examining the gemstone cuts, we then look at the design of the piece. A dominant theme running through Art Nouveau jewellery is nature and flowing lines called whiplash lines. These strong curves came to represent a woman`s hair, femine curves or the natural shape of plants. Virtually all Art Nouveau jewellery contents this whiplash design. Insects such as butterflies and dragonflies along with peacocks and small song birds are also a recurring theme in Art Nouveau jewellery. Designers of this period were also interested in the darker side of nature. Producing designs of reptiles and vultures, along with mythological creatures. Winged women and the female form were also very popular in Art Nouveau jewellery. Which symbolised the changing role women were playing in society. So as we look at each area of the piece of jewellery. We are in effect using a process of elimination, to date the item.

Illustrated below are some of the important dates of Art Nouveau Jewellery.

1880 – Hinged Kidney wires invented.

1880 – Threaded post earrings invented.

1885 – Safety pin head catch invented.

1893 – Cultured pearls developed by K. Mikimoto.

1894 – Screw back earrings invented.

1900 – Modern spring ring clasp.

1909 – Bakelite invented.

1912 – Lever safety catch used in US.

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Victorian Jewellery 1837 to 1901

Victorian Jewellery

The Victorian period began on the 20th of June 1837. When princess Victoria became Queen at the age of 18. She reigned as Queen of Great Britain for 64 years, until her death on the 22th of January 1901. The later part of the Victorian era coincides with the Belle Epoque era ( meaning beautiful era ) of mainland Europe and the Gilded age of the United States. This was a period of prolonged peace and prosperity in the UK, with the standard of living increasing greatly. Which lead to an increase in demand for luxury goods , such as jewellery. This demand was further fueled by Queen Victoria`s love of jewellery. She not only wore it, but designed it and gave it as gifts throughout the British Empire. Although the Victorian period only spanned 64 years, it is divided into three sections, early, mid and late Victorian.

Early Victorian Jewellery 1837 to 1861

The early Victorian period also called the romantic period. Reflected the great romance between Queen Victoria and prince Albert. The Queen`s jewellery was dominated by symbols of love and romance. With floral motifs of roses, pansies, daises and forget me nots. Even the Queen`s engagement ring from prince Albert was of a snake with it`s tail in it`s mouth, which was a symbol of eternal love. This theme of nature and love was very popular during the early Victorian period. Jewellery which contained a secret compartment, normally brooches or rings. Where also very popular and had a token of a loved one placed inside. Although the ultimate token of love in the Victorian period was acrostic jewels. Acrostic jewels would spell out a hidden message, using the first letter of each gemstone. For example the ring in the picture spells “Dearest”. Using the gemstones, Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire and Turquoise.

Mid Victorian Jewellery 1837 to 1880

The mid Victorian period which was also called the grand period was from 1861 to 1880. The start of this period was marked by the dead of prince Albert. Which lead Queen Victoria into a state of mourning which lasted for decades. This had a major effect on Victorian jewellery trends, with the introduction of dark and somber colours. Jewellery made from jet, which is fossilized coal became popular. As did bog oak, black onxy and black enamel. This more somber period in England, coincided with the start of the civil war in America. Another major trend from this time was cameos. Which were typically made by an Italian carver and brought back as a gift. By wealthy people who travel Europe, on what was called the grand tour. While originally these cameos were commissioned portraits of a loved one. Demand rose steadily and carvers began to introduce portraits of the anonymous woman. These cameos were typically made from shell or lava, but with the invention of celluloid in 1868. Cameos started to be mass produced, especially from 1875 onwards. This period is considered to be when cameos were at their peak.

Late Victorian Jewellery 1880 to 1901

The late Victorian period, also called the aesthetic period. Saw Victorian jewellery designs becoming more simple and feminine. It tended to be lighter and smaller, when compared to heavier earlier brooches for example. Stud earrings and diamond hair pins became very popular, as did choker necklaces and pearls. Which were made fashionable by princess Alexandra, Queen Victoria`s daughter-in-law. During this period the manufacturing of jewellery moved from hand crafted to more mass production. This lead to cheaper jewellery being more widely available. Which was in great demand from a prosperous middle class. It was at this time that such items as machine made curb bracelets first appeared on the market. Some of the most popular gems of this period were sapphires, diamonds, spinels and peridots. Designs of dragons, crescent moons and stars were also quite popular. This was also the decade which saw platinum begin to be used in jewellery.

How To Date Victorian Jewellery

Quite a lot of Victorian jewellery has survived, due to mass production in this era. This would include a large portion of costume pieces, which were very popular. Outlined below are guidelines to help you date Victorian jewellery.

Metal :  Prior to 1854 the term “gold” was taken to mean 18K – 22K. In 1854 a new English law required that jewelers mark their pieces to show the gold content. It is after this law that we start to see 9K, 12K and 15K begin to be used. From 1880 onwards we also see platinum begining to be used in Victorian jewellery due to advances is diamond cutting saws, before 1880 very little platinum was used. Another important year in this period was 1840. Which saw the invention of silver plating. This combined with advances in mass production, allowed huge quantities of jewellery to be produced at a low cost.

Gemstones :  Like in the Georgian period, table cut or rose cut stones were the most popular. These types of cuts were common place right up to the mid Victorian era. After that we begin to see more highly faceted stones, containing 58 or more facets. From 1840 onwards highly refractive glass became available in Europe. The use of glass in place of gems from then on was common. But does not detract from the value of these Victorian items, due to the level of craftsmanship which went into each piece. To determine if an item contains a gemstone or glass. Look at the item through a jewelers loupe, if bubbles are seen then it is glass.

Findings :  Findings are the pre-made items which a jeweler will buy to use in making jewellery. These labour saving items were commonly used and are an accurate way to date. In the case of a brooch, if the pin extends beyond the brooch. It would normally be from the mid to late Victorian era. The safety pin was invented in 1849, which was followed by the trombone clasp in 1850. In 1894 screw back earrings were invented. Up to this point it was normally fish hook style wire used. The spring bolt clasp was first used in 1840. This was then followed by the spring ring clasp in 1900.

C Clasp / Extended Pin.

Trombone Clasp 1850.

Screw back earrings 1894.

Spring bolt 1840.

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Georgian Jewellery 1714 to 1837

Georgian Jewellery

The Georgian jewellery period spans from 1714 to 1837. It was named after four successive kings of England, George I, George II, George III and George IV. All of the jewellery produced during this period is handmade and very rare. With most pieces of Georgian jewellery being remounted to keep up with the changing trends. Unlike the Victorian period, which saw the introduction of mass produced jewellery. Stocks of precious metals and gemstones were quite low at this time compared to modern times. So with rising demand, jewelers introduced glass paste for the first time as a substitute for real gemstones. They also begin to use pinchback ( named after it`s inventor ) as a substitute for gold.

Fashion trends in the early period of the Georgian jewellery favoured larger stones. Especially diamonds which were the most desirable, rubies, sapphires and emeralds came back into fashion later in the period. Short necklaces were very popular at this time. With diamond studded chokers being highly sought after. Bows, ribbons and motifs were also very popular during this period. As was ” memento Mori ” which means ” Remember you will die “. This type of jewellery featured skulls and coffins. Reminding the wearer of his or her own mortality. Memorial jewellery or mouring jewellery as it is commonly called, developed later in Georgian times from “Memento Mori”. It featured strongly in the later part of this period and was worn to remember the death of a loved one. These pieces were normally a brooch, necklace or ring and would contain strands of hair from the departed loved one. Memorial jewellery would continue to stay in demand right through to Victorian times.

How To Date Georgian Jewellery

Most Georgian jewellery today is from the later part of the period. Typically from the 1800s, very little of earlier Georgian jewellery has survived. When trying to date an item of Georgian jewellery. There are a number of areas which we can look at. Set out below are guidelines to help you get started.

Rings :  Georgian rings will have been hand carved. So therefore you such expect to see tool marks through a jewelers loupe. The technique of casting was not used during the Georgian period. A handmade ring of this period will have been made with precision and care. So the quality of craftmanship can be a good indicator of it`s age. The stones will also have been cut by hand. Therefore they will not be perfectly symmetrical. Rose cut and table cut stones were the most popular during this period and the rose cut tended to have quite a low crown.

Brooches :  Taking a look at the pin can tell us a lot about the age of a brooch. The simple C clasp was the oldest form used and had no locking mechanism. If the pin extends beyond the length of the brooch, it is likely to be a Victorian item. As the Victorians extended their pins for extra security. The simple C clasp was used right up to the 20th century. The hinge of the pin can also help to date the item. Earlier pins used a tube hinge until the invention of the ball hinge in 1898. Another important date is 1805, which saw the invention of gold plating.

Earrings :  When it comes to earrings the first thing to look at is the findings. Georgian earrings used fish hook style wires or shepherd crooks as they are sometimes called. With kidney wires and screw back earrings not being invented until the Victorian era. The next thing to look at is how the fish hook wire is attached. In the Georgian period, the wires would have been soldered in place or attached through eye hooks. It is here you will also notice if the item has been repaired at one time. Some earrings from this time could also be disassembled into two pieces. With the smaller piece being worn during the day. Then adding the extension piece to create a drop earring for evening wear. These type earrings were called day and night earrings.

Necklaces & Bracelets :  In the case of necklaces or bracelets, the clasp is one of the best indicators of it`s age. The oldest form of clasp, introduced in the 1700s was the push in box clasp. It worked by using a thin V shaped piece of metal. That would slot into the receiving box shaped clasp. The box clasp also called the tongue and groove catch, was used until the invention of the spring ring clasp in 1900.

 

The Setting :  All Georgian jewellery was hand crafted and these surviving pieces show an extraordinary high level of craftsmanship. So it is one of the first things to look at when examining the setting. The next thing to look at is how the stones are set. The Georgians set their stones in foil, either gold or silver. This reflecting foil was to enhance the stones and can be best seen by candle light. This foil can be easily damaged by water. So care needs to be taken when cleaning foil backed settings. It is best to just clean using a soft brush, chalk powder can also be used to polish. The backs of Georgian jewellery were enclosed, unlike today were open framework is preferred. Another feature of Georgian jewellery is stones were never cut to suit a particular design, due to their scarcity and expense. Instead the gemstones which were available were used. This can be typically seen in Georgian jewellery were surrounding stones will not be identical. During this period gold with a high karat content, such as 18k or above was preferred. This gave the pieces of Georgian jewellery a deep gold luster. Which was and still is highly sought after. The hallmarks on an item can also provide a lot of information, including the karat, age and place it was made. Below you will find the British historic gold hallmark charts.

Historic British Gold Hallmarks From 1678 to 1974

 

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