It is amazing to think that any jewellery has survived intact from Georgian times and is still able to be worn, and yet quite a few pieces have. The Georgian period stretches from 1714 to 1837 so in fact was longer than the Victorian period (1838 to 1901). It covers the reign of the Hanover family, with four kings called George, and the brief 7 year reign of William IV. Victoria was last of the Hanovians. It was a period of great change, particularly as industries became more industrialised and rural workers surged into cities looking for work. It was the time of the Napoleonic wars, the French Revolution and the American Revolution. Elegant houses were built and furniture makers like Thomas Chippendale, George Hepplewhite and Thomas Sheraton flourished. Jane Austen and Henry Fielding were popular authors as John Keats, Lord Bryon and William Wordsworth were popular poets.
The jewellery of this period varies a lot. We begin to see difference in the jewellery being worn by women for day wear and in the evening. In the night time, the jewellery had to reflect candle light so faceted precious stones were used or flat surfaces of gold and mother of pearl like the earrings below. Hair styles changed and were more likely to reveal ears and necklines became lower.
As a result of the Napoleonic Wars, precious metals and stones became rare and expensive. Jewelry was designed to have the greatest effect for the least cost so gemstones such as amethysts, citrines, topazes and aquamarines, mainly of Brazilian origin, were used, mounted in elaborate but relatively light cannetille work with gold swirls, flowers and leaves. The backs of the pieces were usually closed.
Men’s dress changed around 1800 as the dandy emerged. Ornate frock coats and wigs were replaced by plain coats, although evening waistcoats were often beautifully embroidered and neckties were intricately folded. Jewellery was restrained – a neck pin, a watch, seal and chain, a signet ring.