Georgian Period - 1714 to 1830
The Georgian Period is some of the earliest jewelry. Until modern times gemstones, diamonds and precious metals were very rare and these materials were recycled into later styles of jewelry. For this reason very little early Georgian jewelry survived. Floral and scroll motifs are typical of the period. Garnets, precious topaz, coral and early fully faceted diamonds set in silver were used.
Victorian Period - 1835 to 1890
The Victorian Period is named for Queen Victoria who was reputedly an incurable romantic. Victorian jewelry virtually drips with sentimentality and symbolism. Of all the periods Victorian incorporates the most varied and eclectic motifs. Influences include Egyptian, Renaissance and Etruscan. It is composed almost exclusively of yellow gold, often with contrasting black and cobalt blue enamel. Diamonds were set in silver topped gold.
Art Nouveau Period - 1890 to 1910
Natural forms inspired Art Nouveau Jewelry. Female forms, dancers, nymphs, mermaids, water lilies, flowers, dragonflies, and flowing lines are recurring motifs. Colors were applied with fired enamels and quite often with plique-a-jour, translucent enamel evoking stained glass.
Edwardian Period - 1890 to 1915
Edwardian jewels are delicate, romantic, feminine and lacy. Edwardian jewels were usually composed of platinum and diamonds and often with natural pearls. The workmanship is highly detailed, open and airy. Bows and garlands were a popular theme.
Art Deco Period - 1915 to 1935
Art Deco Jewelry depicts the modern age. Designs are streamlined, geometric, symmetric, and highly stylized. Think Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge. This was also the time when the well known gemstones were being mined: Kashmir Sapphires, Burmese Rubies, “Old Mine” Muzo Emeralds, and Lightning Ridge Opals.
Retro Period - 1940 to 1945
Retro Jewelry, we are back to gold and most notably rose gold, due to the short supply of platinum, which was required for the war. Think of retro as the golden age of Hollywood and glamour jewelry: Crawford, Dietrich, and Garbo. There is nothing subtle or demure about it: over-sized, dramatic, but very often A-symmetrical and whimsical. Rubies were all the rage, but many semi-precious stones were used: Citrine, Aquamarine, Amethyst and Moonstones in large sizes.
The fabulous Fifties! We are back to platinum and diamonds but seemingly in direct opposition to prewar Art Deco style with lots of abstract, free-form, linear and floral designs with overlapping and pave diamonds. More flash that finesse.
Many of these styles will overlap decorative periods, there are no precise beginning or ending to style trends.