Friday, April 12, 2013

Glorious Georgian

Georgian 18K Gold Amethyst Parure 
 My specialty is antique jewelry! My favorite period of antique jewelry is Georgian.  

Hey. Do you know that antique jewelry periods are named for the English monarchs who were reigning in England during the time period? 

King George IV 
                                                                            The Georgian period is between 1714 and 1830   during the reigns of kings George I (1714-1727) , George II (1727-1760), George III (1760-1820) and George IV (1830-1837).  These King George’s were the Hanoverians. King George the IV was Queen Elizabeth's Great-Great-Great-grandfather. Queen Elizabeth's family the Windsor's didn't wear the crown until 1952. 

On the left is King George IV notice his fancy clothing and over the top ornamentation?  Can you imagine Prince Charles wearing all those jewels and huge Satin Bows on his shoulders? 

This period is all about fancy. The English kings Georges were OK. However the stars of the Georgian period were the Kings of fabulous flamboyancy Kings Louis XIV Louis XV and Louis XVI.

What else do you need to know about Georgian jewelry? 

These pieces of jewelry were being made way back when our country was still an English colony. The period lasted through the American Revolutionary, the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, The reign of Catherine The Great, Lewis and Clark, Mozart,  industrial revolution, and other cool stuff that I didn't pay enough attention in History to be able to tell you about. 

But, I can tell you that this period of a hundred and 15 years had "...great strides in science and world exploration, the advent of rail travel and a changing role for women in society created the perfect backdrop for the creation of the magnificent jewelry we call Georgian."  Nice huh, so poetic. 

The Period of Georgian Jewelry can be broken down into to the three artistic styles /aesthetics of the times: 

 Rococo,  Gothic Revival/Romanticism and  Neoclassicism

All three styles overlapped and in my mind are equally important and fun. We are going to start with Rococo. (Pronounced row-cocoa)

Rococo style is best described as flamboyant, ostentatious, Louis XIV style, or blinged out bedazzled style. This fabulously over the top artistic style started in Paris in the early 1700’s championed by King Louis XIV and made infamous by King Louis XVI and his fabulous wife Marie Antoinette
Versailles  Rococo Masterpiece 

You know about King Louis XIV? He built  the palace Versailles.  Ah Versailles, the gilded, sparkling, temple of flamboyant indulgence and excess.  the quintessential example of the Rococo aesthetic pictured here, for some reason during the French Revolution this castle became a symbol  the excessive luxury and absolute power of the French monarchy.  Go figure?

A magnificent example of the Rococo Georgian jewelry is the famous necklace pictured at the top of the page. This necklace was a gift from King Louis XVI to his wife the one and only Marie-Antoinette. His grandfather decorated a castle, he decorated his wife. She did love her bling, in fact her wedding dress was covered in real diamonds. 

A Small Sample of Marie Antoinette's Jewels

What does the jewelry look like? 

Fancy with highly complicated designs  heavily decorative with asymmetrical gems set elaborately as possible in gold.  Often with bows, tear drop shaped dangling stones, and chandelier earrings.  The fancy name for 3 pear shaped dangling stones in the style of a chandelier is called girandole pronounced (Jeer-in-dole). Bows, leaves,  and and three tear drops is the most common design from this era.
Georgian Table Cut

More is more. More design, more stones, more gold, more of everything!

How do you identify Georgian Jewelry?

Rose cut diamonds
Look at the stones. The way the stones are cut can be the most obvious clue that a piece maybe Georgian. These pieces have peculiar looking stones that look more like ice cubes or pieces of glass.  The official names for these old cuts  are Rose-Cut for the pointed ice cube looking stones, and Table-Cut for the flat cut glassy looking ones. Fine quality gem stones  were so scarce that the jewelers used as much of the stones as possible and never wasted any. For that reason gems should be slightly different sizes and surfaces. 

Also Georgian stones may have foil around the edges. This was meant to compliment the stones by glow of candlelight. 

Like in these earrings pictured bellow. Gold and amethyst made in Spain, these gorgeous earrings come apart in three pieces. You can wear the tops alone, wear the tops and bottoms, or go full on diva and wear them full length.    

 These Georgian earrings are from my personal collection.
A little to fancy to wear in New England, well unless you're Marie-Antoinette. 

1 comment:

  1. The necklace you attribute to Marie Antoinette is, in fact, a modern creation by de Beers *named for* Marie Antoinette.