Georgian on my Mind
No matter what a woman's style may be, it seems everyone loves Georgian jewelry. She may not know exactly what the beautiful jewel she's looking at represents, but she appreciates its beauty. Three women in my circle of life own Georgian pieces. They could not be more different from one another in style and taste, yet each adores and wears the look well. So what is it, exactly?
Georgian jewelry was created during the reigns of Britain's King George I through IV, from approximately 1714 until 1840. It has a distinctive look that was achieved by hand fabricating ornate metalwork, primarily in silver, yellow gold, steel, and iron. While there were several design styles popularized during the period, including hair jewelry (yuck!), the one to which I and jewelry lovers are most often drawn features this signature appearance . . .
Lots of Old Mine Cut diamonds, appropriate to the era, with their rounded square shapes and chunky facets. They and the two oval/pear-cuts and cushion-cuts, along with the center Burma ruby, are all set in silver, which has oxidized over time to create a dramatic black background. At the time it was made, this white silver mounting must have been particularly dazzling, Silver was the only white precious metal available for jewelers of the era to use, as white gold had not yet been invented and platinum was not malleable, nor could it be melted.
Lying beneath this layer of silver is another of yellow gold, which is a hallmark of Georgian jewelry. I have read that the reason jewelers did not create pieces entirely of silver was to keep tarnish off of the wearer's clothing and skin, as gold oxidizes much more slowly.
Popular motifs for Georgian earrings and necklaces were flowers, bows, ribbons, and swags, all set with diamonds. These elements moved or dangled, to create maximum sparkle. Because diamonds were worn only at night, and candlelight was the only source of light, Georgian jewels are known for their beauty in the darkest of rooms.
Check out these girandole ear pendants from one of my favorite Instagram haunts, FD Gallery of New York. I envision these worn formally to a cocktail event, or even better, paired with trousers for a weekend dinner. That's how I would wear them, if I were lucky enough to own them.
The influence of Georgian jewelers has echoed through generations. Many artists creating jewelry today are inspired by the Georgian style and set their gemstones into oxidized silver, even though several other precious metal options are now available to them. Some use older cuts of diamonds suitable to the Georgian period as well, including rose cuts and table cuts. It's a mash-up of modern and antique that is a testament to the beauty of these gorgeous jewels.