Thursday, 1 March 2012

In which I love Georgian Jewellery 1714 - 1830

Ever since I was a child I have held a fascination with the past, I would spend hours digging up my parents yard; the block sat in front of what use to be an old Orphanage & I would dig up all kinds of things; from old toys to beautiful pieces of china & glass (although mostly broken)...this led to my eventual studies in Early European History, Roman/Greek History & Egyptology.

However, there is one particular period that continues to distract me whenever I find myself browsing through an antique jeweller (or fair for that matter as I find the furniture equally delectable) and that is the Georgian Period which ranges from 1714 – 1830 which can then be classed into three separate categories; Queen Anne (1714-1750), Rococo (1750-1780) and Neoclassical/Romantic (1780-1830).

For me, collecting antique jewellery is the allure of times past; I often wonder about the items history; of who owned it before I? And did the wearer love the piece as much as I? To me, Georgian jewellery is the epitome of jewellery; it’s so absolutely beautiful there is simply nothing even remotely like it in the jewellery of today. It’s a shame that quality Georgian jewellery is scarce (that, & the pieces are generally quite expensive) or they have been broken up (for an example a Georgian Riviere necklace in order to create several pairs of earrings); as a collector, I find this devastating although equally satisfying when I come across a piece which is quite perfect…unfortunately there are also many, many fraudulent pieces out on the market which include (but not limited to) Stuart crystal & eye miniatures, mainly due to the high price these pieces can (& often do) demand. All I can advise is to research, research, research and if it seems to good to be true, then it probably is!

Georgian sepia clasp, strung on a french muff chain commemorating a marriage

This particular piece I purchased some time ago and I wear it almost on a daily basis; it dates somewhere between 1780-1830 as the piece illustrates a women in Neoclassical style; It was originally a clasp and I imagine would have been strung on pearls and worn as a bracelet however, it has been (quite crudely so) turned into a slide/pendant at some later date. Although it’s a shame that a jeweller modernised this piece and did a poor job with the gold work (fill in where the side clasp originally was) I still find this piece most alluring, and little did I realise at the time, that it features in the book: Georgian Jewellery by Ginny Redington Dawes on page 136 and is commemorative of a marriage therefore a love sentiment piece. All the symbolism in this piece points to love and the execution of the miniature is quite exquisite, the detail amongst the best I have come across; the piece finished off with a boarder of seed pearls…

This photo was taken from the dealer I originally purchased this from (with permission); it's a better photo of the exquisite detail of the sepia miniature.

From the sun filled Georgian Drawing room to the sumptuous evening gala balls these gems gleamed & glittered their best in the natural sunlight & candle light twinkling like stars off the foil backed gemstones. This period was a time where emotion played key and was expressed through wearable sentimental pieces of jewellery.

For anyone who is interested in the period, I highly recommend purchasing the book: Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 by Ginny Redington Dawes with Olivia Collings. It is the only book that I have come across that encompasses Georgian Jewellery as a whole covering the period 1714-1830 in full. Not only is the information valuable but the photos are drool worthy, it's a book I find myself revisiting time and time again.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post, Lau. A history nut I am, but I'll admit I don't know a lot about jewellery specifically (that's definitely your area of expertise). But my interest in history began as a child too; my maternal grandfather has always been involved in the National Trust, collecting and donating antiques and vintage items. I spent a lot of time at the local museum as a kid, where there were mostly Victorian and Edwardian pieces on display. Could spend hours just admiring!
    ~S. xo