Oh how two monarchs can differ… Where Queen Victoria was a Queen who wasn’t very involved in social activities, her son and successor King Edward VII was known as a social, luxury-loving and lighthearted man. It’s no surprise that the jewellery that was created during their reigns also differs greatly. Below, we will tell you all about the Edwardian era, its love for platinum, and its intricate designs.
The era of a new, luxury-loving king
Like we explained in our previous blog, the Victorian era was named after the monarch that reigned in Britain at the moment, namely Queen Victoria. Logically, when she died in 1901, the Victorian era also came to an end. She was succeeded by her son, Edward VII, after whom the new era was named. There is some disagreement about when the era actually ended: while some say this was when King Edward died in 1910, others say the era ended when the titanic sank in 1912 or when WWI started in 1914.
Unlike his mother, King Edward VII was known as a luxury-loving, lighthearted man who spent a lot of time participating in social activities. He was the leader of a group of wealthy elite and regularly organized society balls. With this lifestyle, came an increased demand for elaborate jewellery, especially from the people in the higher classes of society.
When looking at the duration of the Edwardian era, one can see that there is overlap with the Art Nouveau era. Nevertheless, Edwardian and Art Nouveau jewellery are not necessarily the same. What they do have in common, is the aversion to machine-made and mass-produced jewellery. So, handcrafted jewellery was still the way to go and Edwardian jewelers ‘borrowed’ the fluid lines that we know from the Art Nouveau style. Characteristic for Edwardian jewellery are motifs that are more traditional than the motifs of the Art Nouveau era, like bows, garlands and ribbons. Where typical Art Nouveau pieces usually had very organic, free form designs, typical Edwardian pieces were often delicate, symmetrical and very detailed in design.
Platinum, diamonds, and popular techniques
In order to create the detailed and delicate pieces that were so popular in the Edwardian era, one needs particularly strong and ductile materials. Therefore, platinum was by far the most popular jewellery material during the Edwardian era. The strength of the material made it possible to create very detailed pieces of jewellery that resembled embroidery or lace. Millegraining was a very popular decorative technique at the time and was made possible by the use of platinum. With millegraining one could create a fine, beaded border surrounding the gemstone or on the edges of a piece, which gave the piece a softer, feminine look. Moreover, the white colour of platinum was a great match with the pastel delicate fabrics that were in fashion.
During this era, diamonds were still by far the most popular gemstones, and often the centerpieces of the design. Due to its strength, platinum could be used to mount these stones in minimalist settings, in which the diamonds seemed to float on the skin and little metal was visible. During the Edwardian era, pearls were a true status symbol, because they were more valuable than diamonds at the time. Because of their white colour, they perfectly matched the delicate white theme of the era and were often used in combination with platinum and diamonds.
Popular Edwardian jewellery designs
Like we said before, the most popular motifs for jewellery in the Edwardian era were bows, garlands, tassels, and knots, which were all made in the new, delicate style. Like during the Victorian era, people loved to wear multiple small brooches. Linear bar brooches made of platinum and diamonds were popular, and so were round brooches with a coloured stone in the center. However, the Edwardian period also was a time of changing fashion, in which the necklines of clothing became more revealing, leaving less room for brooches. Therefore, necklaces and earrings became more important in fashion. A very popular necklace style was the so-called ‘dog-collar’, a tight-fitting type of necklace that was a favourite of the Princess of Wales. These necklaces could be fabricated from all kinds of materials, ranging from strands of pearls to a simple velvet band with a brooch or buckle at the center. Long necklaces also became increasingly popular, because they were perfect to combine with the lower necklines. Lavallière necklaces were simple chain necklaces suspending a gemstone or delicate pendant were one of the most popular jewellery designs. Another popular necklace style was the sautoir, which were long ropes of pearls or beads that were wrapped around the neck multiple times.
Where in the previous era, the most popular earrings were small, simple studs, earrings in the Edwardian era were long and glittering. In these earrings, all the Edwardian elements like platinum openwork, millegraining, and diamonds were present. Bracelets, on the other hand, were present in less abundant quantities. Women usually wore just one bracelet, often with a light motif and flowery design. Bracelets with very detailed, ornate front sections and simple, but elegant chain links across the underside of the wrist were also very common.
You think elegant pieces of jewellery made from the strongest materials are perfect for you? Make sure to check out the Edwardian section of our webshop and get your hands on one of the unique pieces!
“Enjoy your search for the perfect Edwardian pieces and make sure to contact us if you need any help or advice!” -xxx- Sophie