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We carry a curated collection of antique and vintage jewelry, specializing in the Victorian era through Art Deco periods. We love antique jewelry, and want to tell you more about what you have! Contact us to set up a video chat or appointment.
The Georgian era of jewelry was produced under the reign of England’s King George. Daytime gemstones included pearls, garnet, colored gems, and paste (hand-cut glass). Diamonds were only worn to formal events, courts and balls. Stone cutting was not far advanced, rose and old mine cuts were most popular. Most stones were set in closed backs and foiled which means a coating is painted on the back to enhance the brilliance and sometimes add color. Platinum and white gold were not yet available, so the metals of choice were silver and gold. Themes and motifs included floral designs, bows, and feathers.
The Victorian era produced some of the most beautiful, symbolic, and collectible jewelry which is still coveted today. The diverse styles within the era are defined by Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837-1901. Yellow gold jewelry was popular, as were precious gemstones.
Queen Victoria started many trends that we still follow today. Before Queen Victoria, engagement rings were rarely given. Upon their engagement, Prince Albert presented the Queen with a snake ring set with an emerald, her birthstone. In the language of Victorian symbolism, serpents represent eternal love.
Within the Victorian era, there are three periods. The first is the Romantic Period, which was a happy time for the young Queen and was reflected in the jewelry. Designs featured natural motifs in gold and silver metal.
The Grand Period was marked by the death of King Albert in 1861. Queen Victoria went into a period of mourning, and Victorian society followed. Dark colors reflected the theme of loss and lockets became popular as keepsake treasures filled with photographs, locks of hair, or scraps of clothing. Mourning jewelry was large, dark, somber, yet dramatic and incorporated jet, onyx, amethyst, garnet, pearls, and gold.
The Aesthetic period began in the 1880’s and featured more complex and feminine motifs.
The Art Nouveau era is a brief stretch in jewelry history that called for a return to handcrafted artistry. Designs had an organic quality with flowing lines and organic motifs. This style was more about the design of the jewelry, and less about the materials used. Silver was often the metal of choice, set with less costly gems and enamel. Themes included women, nature, plants, and flowers.
Art Deco jewelry displays clean lines and geometric forms. Platinum was still the metal of choice, as white gold had just become commercially available to jewelers in 1912. Old European diamonds were at their height and Baguette, French, and Assher cuts were introduced.
Retro jewelry is defined and confined by World War II. Wartime restrictions on platinum meant jewelers worked primarily in gold. Jewelry was often glamorous and dramatic, to offset the masculine style of women’s dresses at the time. Motifs included patriotic, industrial, and feminine themes.
Jewelry designers of this time were influenced by artists such as Salvador Dalí and Jackson Pollock. Modernist jewelry is generally characterized by abstract motifs, asymmetry, texture, shapes, and color. Elements are chosen based on the overall composition, so you will often find semi-precious gems set in high-karat gold.