Late 19th Century

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The 19th Century was a period of great social change as developments in the worlds of Industry and Medicine fed an aspiring middle class. Towards the middle of the century, England’s Queen Victoria and, in France, Napoleon had encouraged extravagant tastes in fashion and jewellery. There was a move away from the naturalism of the beginning of the century; styles evolved towards Algerian knots, garlands and bows to adorn the tiny waists and rigid corsages. The legalisation of 9, 12 and 15ct gold in 1855 resulted in a surge of low quality copies of finer jewels. Jewellery also took on a more symbolic role towards the end of the century including snakes in enamelled gold for eternity; and mourning jewellery, often in jet, was common. Towards the end of the century Archeological Revival jewellery became the vogue, epitomised by examples created in the Etruscan and Ancient Greek style by the Castellani family and, a little later, by Carlo Giuliano. Along with sporting brooches in yellow gold, another staple of the 1860s and 1870s, was the Holbeinesque pendant, typically centring on a gem-stone within a lozenge or cross-shaped surround, which was often also enamelled, suspending either a similar design or a pearl.