After the death of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and his Queen, Alexandra, ascended the throne of England and brought a cosmopolitan update to society, fashion and jewelry. The period was a time of great social change and witnessed the rise of an extremely wealthy upper class, and coincided with “The Gilded Age” in America. The period included a mix of styles, those from the earlier Victorian era, the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts movement. The hallmarks of true Edwardian design include light and airy pieces, created in delicate filigree of diamond and platinum or white gold resembling lace. Pearls were also in fashion along with chokers, jewels for the hair, and long dangling earrings. Monochromatic and white pieces were very popular, made possible by the use of platinum which lent itself to very delicate sculpting. Motifs included garlands, bows, and tassels formed into bar pins, tiaras, multiple strands of pearls worn as a choker. Scalloped edges were also common in jewelry.
New technologies allowed faster manufacture, reduced costs, and mass production. Firms such a Tiffany & Co. developed new ways to cut and set diamonds, making the stones appear more delicate and refined. In 1914 a new cut called the “brilliant” was applied to diamonds. Invisible or "Millegrain" settings allowed jewelers to secure stones with tiny metal ridges, beads or grains to securely fasten a stone in a lightweight, unobtrusive manner. Technology outside of the jewelry field never the less drove the market, as was the case with electric lighting, which made monochromatic diamond pieces sparkle brilliantly, making them even more prized.
Popular stones included green demantoid garnets, black opals, and Montana sapphires. Pearls were highly prized and extremely expensive, available to only the wealthiest, however convincing fake pearls were produced for the mass market. Various types of necklaces were popular, including the Negligee style, two pendants at unequal lengths on a chain or a necklace without a clasp whose ends were worn draped around the neck, Sautoir necklaces of beads that were worn long and below the waist, often with tassels on the end, and the most common type of necklace from the period the Lavaliere which consisted of a pendant worn on a long thin chain. Brooches were popular and worn in multiples. New sporting themes were commonly depicted. Bracelets were also worn in multiples or alone, Spring bracelets were designed to open widely but fit snugly on the wearer’s wrist. Hatpins, watch fobs, and stick pins were also common accessories.
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