Belle Epoque

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This retrospectively named period was a time of great prosperity for most of Central Europe. As a result, jewellery was enjoying unprecedented appeal and the early 20th Century remains one of the most productive periods in history. As well as the styles of Art Nouveau and the traditional styles carried on from the late 19th Century, the early 20th Century saw the beginning of other trends with which the term Belle Époque has become associated. The intricate garland designs in platinum and the black and white combination of diamond and onyx, that became popular towards 1910, are those that best represent the evolution of the period. Until the 20th Century, platinum was not widely used in jewellery, with most stones set within silver mounts and backed in gold. The growing appreciation of platinum and innovations in technology led to an exploration of its benefits over the heavy settings seen in the 19th Century. From this emerged the fashion for intricate, metal-light jewellery with open-work designs enabled by a piercing saw, often embellished with a millegrain effect.