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Periods of Jewellery History - Georgian era: 1714 - 1837

February 27, 2014
Home / The Vault / Periods of Jewellery History - Georgian era: 1714 - 1837

Georgian era: 1714-1837. William IV reigned from (1830-1837), however there is no "William" era and indeed his time as King is considered to be part of the Georgian era.

This era covers the reigns of the four English ruling kings named George and William IV. Because of this long time frame and the lives of the monarchs, the style of Georgian never can be considered truly “typical", as the style and techniques continues to change over the century.

The styles went from Rococo passing through the Gothic revival and Neoclassical, where you see the style of not only jewellery, but furniture and houses as well, change and evolve through the decades.

The setting of diamonds and other gemstones used a “new" technique. Foil backing a stone, involved closing the back of the stone with a metal coating that was sometimes coloured to enhance the stones colour or a bright silver colour for diamonds or colourless paste.

Due to the cost and therefore rarity of diamonds a “new" material was sometimes used. Berlin Iron, was as the name implies, iron jewellery that started in Germany at the start of the nineteenth century, (1806) when German citizens were asked to hand in their gold jewellery to help with the war effort, and in return received cast-iron replicas of their jewellery. These items of jewellery that were made for the war effort, were often inscribed " Gold gab ich fur Eisen" (I gave gold for Iron.)

This turned out to become quite popular and fashionable for those who could not afford real diamonds, and even for those that could, and this technique continued onto the middle of the nineteenth century.

Rock crystal and marcasite was also often used as another diamond substitute.

Glass paste is where coloured paste (glass) was used to copy and imitate real gems and were developed during this era. Due to its relatively low hardness (Around 6.5 on Moh's scale of hardness) a lot of this jewellery has not survived today, or is not in the best of condition. This material often allowed those who could not afford the more precious and expensive gems to be able to wear jewellery among their fellow peers. However, it has been known for a lot of the more wealthy people to wear this imitation jewellery amongst their jewellery set with natural gemstones.

The Georgian era, like the later Victorian era, was a highly romantic and nostalgic era. Memorial jewellery, where portraits of loved ones were painted onto rings and brooches became more and more common, including using the loved ones hair, either woven and set in the back of a ring or brooch, or plaited and displayed in the front.

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   Three mourning rings, typical of the Georgian era of the 1700's into the 1800's

Another romantic style of jewellery that came into fashion, was REGARD and DEAREST jewellery. These were often rings though sometimes brooches, though these were more commonly found in the Victorian era that used different gemstones where the first letter of each gem spelt out the word dearest or regard. For example, a regards ring may have been set with Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond.

The Georgian era is one that is steeped in history, with styles and gemstones that are quite diverse.

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