Estate Jewelry - 1900 to 1910

The production and designs of early 20th century jewelry was heavily influenced by an incredibly wealthy class of society and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Increased demand, production and sale of Edwardian platinum diamond jewelry in the first decade of the century resulted from great prosperity amongst the very wealthy class. Elegant, lacy white diamond jewelry would become a necessity at social and sporting events. However, at the outbreak of wars, jewelry production and sales would begin to rapidly decline. Attendance at social and sporting events would rapidly decline so jewelry owners would chose to put their jewelry in storage or might even sell it for survival. As a result of the war efforts, precious metals usage would be restricted, forbidden in certain countries or might be donated to help finance the war efforts. With the war in place many black outs would be required. The low demand and the black outs would almost cause jewelry production to cease. Jewelry manufacturers would often close their shop to join the war.

New jewelry designs in the first decade of the 1900s would be inspired by 18 th century Georgian and Art Nouveau jewelry designs. Much like today, jewelry designers would be encouraged to review older period jewelry designs and study 18 th century building designs. This time in jewelry design would later be referred to as the Edwardian Jewelry Period. This period would be named after King Edward VII, though he was only on the throne from 1901 to 1910. Edward’s extreme passion for fine jewelry would have a strong effect on jewelry styles before, during and after his time on the throne. Edwardian jewelry would have attributes that were more delicate and lighter in appearance. Jewelry from this period would have softer, romantic motifs of double hearts, hearts, floral designs, tassels, ribbon bows, lace, swags, foliate wreaths and garlands. Edwardian jewelry would be monochromatic. Most designs would use white diamonds, white pearls and platinum.

Platinum was used more frequently to make jewelry of the early 1900s. The white, non-tarnishing qualities of platinum helped diamonds appear whiter and brighter. The pure strength of platinum allowed for jewelry pieces to weigh less and to have finer, more defined design lines. The rigidness of platinum enabled craftsmen to cut the metal with piercing saws that would create openwork filigree that appeared light and lacelike. This type of filigree is often called “knife-edge”. Platinum would be used to create the fine beaded accents, called mille grain, which would be manually applied to the jewelry piece. Diamonds would be mounted in a in a band wrapped around the stone which is called collet style. The French government would not recognize platinum as a precious metal until 1912, which is when they would use a dog’s head to hallmark to identify the metal.

Jewelry designers would be inspired to create jewelry that matched the top fashion designers of the period. Top fashion houses would design dresses in delicate, soft flowing fabrics. Colors were predominately all-white or designed in pale pastel colors. Lace was a frequent embellishment. Ladies high fashion styles were created with high necklines and long flowing, skirts.

Though this jewelry period is often referred to as the Edwardian Jewelry many influences would come from French fashion designers and French Jewelry Designers such as Cartier. Though covering a longer period, this period of jewelry is also referred to as the “Belle Epoch” (beautiful era) Jewelry Period.

The early 1900s emphasis on diamond usage would lead to enhanced diamond cutting tools and the creation of new diamond cuts. The improved diamond machinery would lead to the creation of emerald-cut, marquise or naiveté cut and baguette cuts.

For a touch of color, enamel might be added to Edwardian jewelry. A small use of colored gemstones might include blue sapphires, turquoise, rubies, demantoid garnets or opals.

Jewelry collections might include a sautoir (long necklaces) seed pearl necklaces terminating with seed pearl tassels, brooches with lacy filigree accented with white diamonds, knife-cut platinum filigree diamond wedding rings, lacy diamond and pearl platinum cocktail rings, lavallières, earrings and diamond tiaras.

How to Identify Antique Jewelry 1900 - 1910
Ten Two Three Estate Jewelry

By: Chris Cosby

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