Georgian Inspiration

Made during the reigns of the four English kings named George, all Georgian Jewelry was handmade and reveals its artisanal nature in its execution and design. Early Georgian fashion called for the use of large stones set in an elaborate rococo style. Diamonds were especially prized and utilized to the almost total exclusion of other stones.

To meet the increased demand for white stones in the first half of the 18th century, artisans employed paste, rock crystal, marcasite, and cut steel with increasing sophistication and dramatic effect. Colored stones returned to vogue in the 1750s. Once again fashion embraced emeralds, rubies, and sapphires along with new stones like white imperial-pink topaz, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls and garnets.

Following the discovery and excavation of Pompeii lava, shell, onyx and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classical theme jewelry. Exemplified by Napoleon and Empress Josephine who strove to signify their reign with the glory of ancient Greece and Rome, the rage for neoclassical style influenced all cultural realms from design to philosophy. Napoleon’s coronation crown by Nitot & Fils was appropriately inspired by Charlemagne and bedecked with several of the finest ancient cameos and intaglios available.

Cameo fever had struck: according to the Journal des Dames, “a woman of fashion wears cameos on her belt, cameos on her necklace, a cameo on each of her bracelets, a cameo on her diadem.”

Further Reading:

An Introduction to Sentimental Jewelry, V&A Introductions to the Decorative Arts), Shirley Bury, 1986

Brilliant Impressions: An Exhibition  of Antique Paste and Other Jewellery, 2010

Georgian Jewelry 1714-1830, Ginny Reddington Dawes and Olivia Collins, 2007

View the Wanton Georgian collection >