goldsmiths • jewelers • gemologists



Georgian Jewelry

The King Georges, the King Louis and Napoleon

By Rebekah V. Wise,
Antique Specialist, R. W. Wise, Goldsmiths

Jewelry from the Georgian Period has recently witnessed a resurgence in popularity.  Named for the English kings George I-IV, the Georgian period spans most of the 18th and part of the 19th century, from about 1714-1830. 

The Georgian years produced many styles including the so-called "Louis Styles" after the French kings Louis XIV, XV, XVI. Ranging from the Baroque-Regence to the Rococo, from the Neo-Classical to the Empire, styles were alternately symmetrically ornate and heavy, fluid and asymmetrical, formal and ornamental. 

rgjimage2.jpgMotifs included tassels, crescents, arrows, laurel leaves, eagles, lyres,  intaglios.  Types of jewelry worn included French pendant earrings with hanging elements-- girandoles & pendeloques as well as aigrettes (hair ornaments). Bracelets worn in pairs were popular as were chatelaines, cameos, mirco-mosaics and pietra-dura pieces. 

Jewelry from this era was hand-fabricated and known for its excellent workmanship.  Illumination had improved. Advances in candle-making, which created longer burning and brighter candles made it possible for increased evening entertainment for the rich.  Diamonds therefore enjoyed a new-found popularity as diamonds shone at their optimum in candlelight.   


Diamonds were rose-cuts, old mine and table cuts; flat cuts were used for colored stones.

Paste jewelry was particularly popular and both diamonds and pastes were generally foil-backed and set in closed-back settings.  Settings were usually 18k or higher; diamonds were set in silver to show off the whiteness of the stones.  rgjimage4.jpg

By the end of the 18th century and into the 19th, romanticism was waxing, with a focus on affection and nostalgia.  Love tokens abounded and mourning jewelry was popular.  Regard rings set with symbolic gems were also the fashion, all of this sentiment setting the stage for the eclecticism of the almost half century reign of Queen Victoria, who wittingly or unwittingly created an entire jewelry industry out of her mourning for her consort Albert.     

For other examples of Georgian pieces, please visit our antique and estate jewelry gallery|1.


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Newly published;
The French Blue
a novel of the 17th Century by Richard W. Wise.

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