Jewelry Time Periods Part 2

Welcome back to part two of our three-part Jewelry Time Period Series. This week we are going to be looking at jewelry from the Edwardian and Art Nouveau eras.

jewelry from the edwardian era

EDWARDIAN ERA (1890-1915)

Edward VII took the throne in 1901 and society was at the height of elegance and sophistication. Advances in metal fabrication allowed for the use of platinum which remains extremely popular today. This advance makes determining the date of the jewelry much easier. If a piece is made in platinum, we can be fairly certain it was made in the early 20th century or later.

Because of its strength, platinum allowed jewelers to produce more intricate and detailed pieces. Jewelry from the Edwardian period was light and delicate, and using as many diamonds as possible in a design was essential. The overall style of the time was light, feminine and airy. Women commonly wore white and diamonds were the gemstone of choice. We also see sapphires, aquamarines and most notably, electric green demantoid garnets from Russia, which are very rare to find in larger sizes.

Additionally, a new type of decorative enhancement called “milgraining” was used extensively at this time. Milgraining involves a small border of beads set around the edges of a piece of jewelry that adds a soft, elegant look. With the start of World War I in 1914 the Edwardian era came to an abrupt end. People began to hide or sell their jewelry, platinum became scarce due to the demand for its use in the war effort.

art nouveau era jewelry

ART NOUVEAU ERA (1895-1915)

Coinciding with “La Belle Epoque” in France and the Late Victorian period in England, Art Nouveau was a style intended to stand against the industrialization of jewelry and decorative arts. This style marked the turn of the century and the coming of the “modern age.” Although this period was short lived, the designs were innovative and intensely creative, incorporating fluid lines and soft curves. The nude female figure or female head with long flowing hair was a popular motif and considered highly scandalous by conservative Victorians and Edwardians. Other popular motifs were Japanese themes of nature; butterflies, dragonflies, insects, and flowers. Moonstones, opal and agate were popular gemstones of the period.

The most important technique employed in the design of Art Nouveau was enameling. The art of enameling was perfected at this time and the use of “plique a jour” which is an enameling technique that produces a stained glass effect.

Masters of Art Nouveau jewelry include Rene Lalique, George Fouquet, Karl Faberge and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The start of World War I and the chaos that ensued marked the end of the Art Nouveau era, by the end of the war, a new style had emerged.


Come back next week for the last part of our three-part series!!!