CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

A Primer on Edwardian Jewelry

5 minute read

Known for its sheer elegance and touted as one of the most remarkable periods of design history, Edwardian-period jewelry (1890-1920) is undoubtedly among the finest and most important jewelry ever made. Named for King Edward VIII, this era began during the last years of Queen Victoria's reign and ended a few years after Edward VII's death in 1910 with the impending onset of World War I. Read more to learn about this fascinating era of antique jewelry design, which is the very last to be defined by and named for a British monarch.

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Edwardian and Diamond Ring, 3.50 carats

The History

Prior to the onset of the Edwardian style at the turn of the century, jewelry was largely  machine-made thanks to the popularity of new machinery and technological innovation of the Industrial Age. These pieces were characterized by large shapes and ostentatious designs. However, this new style rejected these machine-made pieces and opted to look back to earlier times to design more traditional forms of jewelry.

[callout]  With studying and testing, the use of platinum was fully exploited for Edwardian-period jewelry, craftsman discovered that platinum allowed flexible workability to give Edwardian pieces their light, airy aesthetic. [/callout]

The Stylistic Tendencies

By looking back to more traditional, handmade forms, jewelry became lighter and more delicate. The Edwardian style employed motifs from earlier periods, such as from the court jewelry of Versailles. Pieces were crafted with a delicate aesthetic that mimicked weaving, embroidery, lace, and latticework. All in all, it is key to understand the concept of understated and exquisite are key when admiring and acquiring this style of jewelry.

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Edwardian Diamond and Ruby Necklace

However, while looking back, Edwardian-period jewelry did utilize a very important technological advancement - that of the use of platinum. Prior to the late 19th century, platinum was quite scarce and there was little understanding amongst jewelers of its workability. With studying and testing, the use of platinum was fully exploited for this jewelry, and it was discovered that platinum allowed flexible workability to give Edwardian pieces their light, airy aesthetic.

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Edwardian Emerald and Pearl Bracelet

Hand in hand with the evolution of this style was a change in women's fashion. Necklines were much lower, so necklaces could be made much longer - and left room for pins and brooches. Many Edwardian-period pieces today speak to these changes as their sizes and shapes adapted.

Edwardian Diamond Necklace, 3.00 carats

Edwardian Diamond Necklace, 3.00 carats

Edwardian Jewelry Key Characteristics

Garlands

Laurel Wreaths

An embroidered-aesthetic - to resemble petit point

Softer, lighter aesthetic

Fluidity of lines

Platinum

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