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Tag Archives: Georgian jewelry

Georgian-JewelleryBecause it’s a holiday weekend and I’m running a bit late, you get a short post  with lots of pretty pictures.  Today, we’re looking at Jewelry  of our era.  The information and pictures are from Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830, a gorgeously illustrated overview of Georgian jewels.

Click on any of the thumbnails to get a larger image of the various pieces.

Cameo & Intaglio - 1800

Cameos and intaglios are lumped together because they’re both made from carving stone.  The difference is that in cameos, the design stands out and in intaglios it’s carved into the surface.  agate, onyx, malachite and lapis were the stones of choice because of the their natural bands of color.

Opaline Glass - 1800

Opaline glass or opal paste was made in Derbyshire and in France.  This was a milky glass in which cooling during its manufacture caused a separation of various oxidex.  Opaline glass was a favorite for daytime wear.

Diamonds - 1800

Diamonds. There is much to be said about diamonds and probably not much that needs saying.  During our period, the table cut (flat on the top, faceted on the sides) of the 16th and 17th centuries was superseded by the rose cut (many different shaped and sized facets over a small culet, allowing the least amount of light to escape through the bottom of the stone.

Gold Woven Chain - 1800The chain was a particularly Georgian piece of jewelry.  It could be woven, knitted, engraved or stamped out links.  It would frequently feature a distinctive clasp.  There was a seemingly endless array of option.  Besides the gold, the chains were made out of silver and other materials such as iron, steel, gilt metal and pinchbeck.

Fine-cut steel - 1800Steel was an interesting jewel choice during the Georgian period.  The steel was fine cut and highly polished and primarily a night-time adornment as it reflected candle-glow particulary well.  Queen Charlotte wore a cut-steel chain made by Matthew Boulton.

Seed pearls 1810Seed pearls, tiny natural pearls from India were an essential part of Georgian jewelry.  They were used in a variety of ways:  long tasseled sautoirs, threaded into intricate designs on slides or clasps, used as surrounds for gemstones.

Iron and Steel 1815

Iron is probably not the first metal that jumps to mind when thinking about jewelry but black-lacquered cast iron jewelry was made by the Royal Berlin Foundry beginning in 1804 and became fashionable during the Napoleonic Wars.  It was made by moulding shapes into wax, impressing them in fine sand and then filling the impressions with molten iron.  Once cooled, it was usually lacquered black.

Coral 1820Coral had a brief period as jewelry desired for both day and evening wear.  It came in the form of cameos, carved rosettes, acorns, or cherubs’ heads, and beads carved in facets or crosshatched. In the early 1800s it was even paired with diamonds for evening dress.

PastePaste – It’s more than just something to replace the jewels you’ve pawned to support your gambling habit.  Much of the paste used in jewelry during the Georgian era was celebrated as jewels in their own right.   Paste was highly regarded because the stones could be cut into any shape required for a setting.  There are still some beautiful examples of fine paste jewelry.

Wedgwood & steel 1780Wedgwood jewelry is distinctly English.  Josiah Wedgwood’s ceramic-ware plaques were included in brooches, pendants, rings, buckles, clasps and earrings.  Mathew Boulton of Birmingham used jasperware ceramic, with its soft matte finish set into gold, silver, marcasite or cut-steel.  The beaded necklaces are particularly lovely.

A few days ago I went into DSW to the clearance section looking to see if I could replace some everyday sandals that have gotten a bit ratty this summer. I didn’t find my sandals, but I came out with these. They begged me to take them home with me; they fit, they’re my favorite color and they’re sparkly. Just right for running around Price Chopper!
I don’t know if I would have had a shoe thing during the Regency. Ladies’ shoes tended to be simple, kind of like ballet flats we might wear now. Here is an example from the Northampton Central Museum, found on the footwear page at Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion (one of my favorite online resources on Regency costume). These shoes are circa 1810 and leather, so not quite as delicate as they might look. Styles became plainer (and more round-toed) as the era progressed. Although flats are cute, there is just not enough variety for me to want to collect them.
I suspect that hats were the accessory vice of choice for many Regency ladies. However, many styles of hat that I like on other people don’t look good on me. So I rarely wear hats, but when I do, I have a simple crocheted wool hat for winter and a straw cloche for summer. I wouldn’t be able to pull off any of these elaborate styles from 1811. I’d end up wearing something small and simple. Cute, but one or two would be enough.
So my vice of choice would probably be jewelry. I probably have even more pairs of earrings than shoes, though that isn’t as expensive as it  sounds. I like costume jewelry best; it’s often as pretty as the “real” stuff and I don’t have to fret about losing it.
During the Regency, I think I would be happy with paste and pinchbeck. Paste was the term for a type of glass that was cut to resemble gemstones. It takes a better eye than mine to distinguish the stones in these earrings from diamonds.
Pinchbeck was an alloy of base metals that looks enough like gold to please me. I’ve long admired this set of earrings from, one of my favorite places to window shop for my heroines.
Do you have any accessory vices? If you were a Regency heroine, how would you spend your pin-money?

I’m a magpie. I’m drawn to shiny, sparkly things and always have been. I love glitter, sequins, chandeliers, beaded bookmarks and of course, jewelry. It doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, after I lost one of a pair of opal (luckily, not antique) earrings at a hotel, I decided I prefer to own jewelry I won’t feel terribly guilty about losing. I’m most attracted to jewelry that is unusual, vintage or artsy. I’ve even dabbled in jewelry making; though my results are not professional, it’s fun.

I love when I have to research jewelry for a story. One of my favorite sources is Three Graces Antique Jewelry, a good place for research and fantasy shopping. Most of the images in this post are from Three Graces. I based a ring in one of my books on this one, substituting sapphires for the rubies.

I’ve also learned that for the heroine on a budget like me, there were options that were less expensive than gold and gemstones.

I remember seeing the term “pinchbeck” in Georgette Heyer novel and wondered what it meant. It turns out it’s an alloy of copper and zinc invented by Christopher Pinchbeck (1670-1732) and used extensively to make durable jewelry that was less expensive than gold. The earrings to the left are gold, to the right, pinchbeck, both early 19th century. I think both are very pretty! One could wear these to a ball, with a pretty white gown if one were young, or with more vibrant colors if older (I love gold with green).

The term “paste” used to make me think of plastic (ugh!) but it actually refers to cut leaded glass faceted to resemble real gemstones. Being softer, it was trickier to cut. And some of it is very pretty as well. Here I have several sets of earrings, diamonds above, paste below. Frankly, I cannot tell the difference! Any of them would be just the thing for a night with my lover at the opera.

The term “parure” refers to a set of matching jewelry. The first is amethyst, the other is emerald-colored paste. I think these parures would be great for a presentation at court. Since the combination of high waists and hoop skirts couldn’t flatter any figure, pretty trinkets like this would help to bring the eye toward the face, instead.

Here are some more period baubles. Can you guess what period they are and can you tell the paste and pinchbeck from the real? (Don’t worry if you can’t–I was very surprised by some of them.) Where would you wear them?


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