I thought I would talk about some pieces of jewellery that are my favourites. They are from different periods but that just shows that design and beauty is what is important, not necessarily the age of a piece.
I will start with the oldest first, an ivory hand brooch. Why do I like it? It is simple, elegant, beautifully executed and represents a period of craftsmanship that has virtually disappeared. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were two main centres of ivory carving. One, at Dieppe in France, specialised in carving intricate crosses, sheaves of wheat and bouquets of flowers. The other was at Erbach in Germany and it produced carvings of deer and stags in forest settings, roses and hands.
The next two pieces come from slightly overlapping jewellery periods. One is French, the other English. The first of these pieces is a pendant from the La Belle Epoque (the beautiful age) period in France, between 1871 and 1914. In England, the later part of this period is called the Edwardian era. Belle Epoque jewellery concentrated on beautiful style and technical handmade excellence, with an emphasis on diamonds. Jewellery was scrolled and swagged, set in openwork in the shape of garlands and flowers, with usually white gold or platinum. It harked back to the rococco and neo-classical styles of the 18th century in France. It was opulent but feminine. Cartier, Boucheron, Vever and Chaumet were leading French jeweller at this time.
The pendant below is set with rose cut diamonds with channel set rubies, set in a scrolled shape with a crown motif and drops with diamonds and one with a natural pearl. So beautiful.
The next piece is a classic example of Art Nouveau jewellery. It is a wide heavy gold bangle with a stylised flower motif on one half. The Art Nouveau period falls into the latter half of the Belle Epoche period, about 1895 to 1910. Again, its origins are French but the style was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK and by Japan. Arts Nouveau was to have a strong influence in most European countries and in the United States and Australia. Jewellery designers used motifs taken from nature, curved lines (the ‘whiplash’ curve), relatively simple repetitive patterns. Lalique, Cartier, Vere rand Tiffany were key jewellers of this style.
My final favourite piece is modern, almost 100 years newer than the previous piece, and comes from Venice. It was made by Giorgia Zanellato for Maison 203. It is a piece of wearable 3D art, made out of hand dyed nylon leaves. It is lovely and light to wear and looks stunning on.