Jewelry Periods Defined: The Edwardian Period

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Edward VII (the seventh) was Queen Victoria’s son, and he became King of Great Britain and head of the British Empire after her death. Although Edward himself died in 1910, the period that’s named for him continued until the beginning of World War I.

Edwardian diamond, cultured pearl, sapphire and platinum brooch

Edwardian diamond, cultured pearl, sapphire and platinum brooch

Popular motifs of the time include many different kinds of plants – flowers, leaves, vines, wreaths, bouquets, garlands, and so forth. Another favorite theme was fabric; for example, ribbons, bows, and swag-style drapery. Some of these are nominally the same as earlier periods, but Edwardian designs are much lighter than anything that came before.

The Edwardian period also produced a wide variety of jewelry forms and styles – elegant brooches and hair ornaments, drop earrings, tiaras, and distinctive necklaces, including the collar, negligee, and sautoir.

Collar

Nowadays sometimes called a dog collar, this style consists of multiple rows of pearls or beads that fit snugly at mid neck.

Negligee (NEG-li-zhay)

This is a long necklace (typically about 30 inches) that has two drops suspended from another gemstone or decorative element.

Sautoir (SOE-twar)

A very long necklace (up to 40 inches or more), usually of pearls, beads, or metal links, often ending with a tassel.

The metal of choice for fine jewelry in the Edwardian period was platinum. This made it possible to produce designs that were delicate-looking but strong, wearable, and lasting. Diamonds and pearls were favorite gems. When combined with platinum, they created a monochromatic (single-color) all-white look. But colored gemstones were also used to provide focal points and accents.

Patti Geolat

Patti Geolat is a widely known authority on the appraisal, brokerage, and sale of fine jewelry and antiques. Her many credentials include: Graduate Gemologist (GG), Gemological Institute of America; Fellow (FGA), Gemological Association of Great Britain; Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA), American Society of Appraisers; Associate in Risk Management (ARM), Insurance Institute of America; and Chartered Insurance Operations Professional (CIOP)
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