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Your Jewelry History Lesson of the Week – Edwardian Jewelry

Class is in session, boys and girls. Sit down and take that gum out of your mouth. And you! You in the back! Put your feet down and sit up straight.

This week’s lesson: Edwardian Jewelry


Edward VII ascended the throne following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901. He and his wife Alexandra set the tone for the Belle Epoque, a time when elegance and fashion became society’s predominant values. New wealth flourished among the upper and middle classes; the automobile, airplane and movie industries were born. Although Edward died in 1910, the stylistic period termed “Edwardian” is considered to continue until World War I.


The figure gained a new importance in fashion: the feminine S-shape silhouette prevailed. Fashion drew inspiration from the French courts of the eighteenth century; it took on an almost ethereal lightness, with layers of delicate fabrics, lace and feathers. Pale pastels and monochromatic white-on-white were the dominant color schemes. Demand for jewelry styles as light and delicate as the clothing ensued.


Platinum: Platinum’s strength enabled the creation of “invisible” settings, in which very little metal was used to hold a gemstone in place. Such settings complemented fashion’s lightness. Jewelry made with saw-piercing and filigree techniques matched the lacy looks of the era. White gold alloys were developed as a less expensive alternative, and as a substitute for platinum (considered a strategic metal) during WWI.
Diamonds and Pearls: Diamonds and pearls set in platinum were favored for their white-on-white color scheme, and sense of refined elegance and luxury.
Garland Style Motifs: Eighteenth-century decorative motifs, such as swags, bows, ribbons, tassels, wreaths and flower garlands, show the neo-classical and Rococo influences on Edwardian jewelry design.
Necklaces: The new fashion–with its upswept hair, high collars for day and low necklines for evening–emphasized the head and neck. Pendants and lavalieres were widely worn. Particularly popular was the negligee pendant, consisting of two drops of unequal length suspended from a central element.
Indian Influence: When Edward toured India, Alexandra developed a keen interest in the style of the Indian princesses, or Maharajas. This exotic influence started a fashion for diamond aigrettes (feathers worn as hair ornamnets); sautoirs (long ropes of pearls or chain ending in a tassel); and chokers, or “dog collars” (one of Alexandra’s favorite styles).
Brooches: Circle brooches and bar pins, particularly with lacy filigree designs, were very fashionable. Stars and crescents were also popular.
Amethyst: A favorite stone of Alexandra’s, amethyst was often included in jewelry of the era. The combination of these violet stones with white pearls and green peridots represented the colors of the suffragette movment; the “g,” “w,” and “v” stood for “give women the vote.” 

Source: Antique Jewelry Online


Here are some examples:

Natural freshwater pearl brooch with three diamonds 
Alexandra Regina Enamel Brooch  
Edwardian Brooch with Diamonds Sapphires and Pearls
Natural freshwater pearl brooch
with three diamonds
Alexandra Regina Enamel Brooch
Edwardian Brooch with Diamonds
Sapphires and Pearls
1,25″ x 1.4″
.94″ x .94″

1.5″ x .83″

Ladies Pin Watch Enamel Diamonds
Edwardian Butterfly Brooch
Edwardian Diamond Brooch
Ladies Pin Watch
with Enamel and Diamonds
Edwardian Butterfly Brooch
with Rose Cut Diamonds
and Natural Pearl
Edwardian Diamond Brooch
1.25″ diameter
2.5″ w x 2.25″ h
1.17″ w x 1″ h

Tiffany Amethyst and Diamond Crown Pin Platinum and Gold Wing Brooch Edwardian Crown Pin
“Tiffany & Co.”
Amethyst and Diamond
Crown Pin
Platinum and Gold
Wing Brooch
Edwardian Crown Pin
with Diamonds and Pearls

Source: Joden World Resources