“When Bridgerton hit our screens at the end of 2020 with its fairytale costumes in cupcake sugary colours, fantastically handsome cast and some truly magnificent jewellery to behold, it provided the perfect tonic for all of us lockdown-weary Brits. With a mix of original Georgian jewellery alongside dripping crystals taking centre stage in almost every scene, Bridgerton has helped to reignite interest in the period from modern day collectors as the show’s influence continues to be far-reaching.
As the Georgian period spans from 1714 to 1837, it was heavily influenced not only by political events and culture in England but also throughout France, Germany and Italy. As a period packed with developments in technology and fashion, trends in Georgian jewellery moved fast and with the times. This quick turnover of what was ‘in’ and what was ‘out’ led to many period jewellers melting down metals and recasting pieces considered more on trend, and as a result, there are few original and genuine pieces still in existence. Up until 1750 the Baroque style dominated, with its complete symmetry and heavy ornate details, however from 1750 onwards, the advent of the Rococo period brought with it open, light and asymmetrical lines. The Baroque years saw an almost exclusive interest in diamonds, however from 1750 onwards a resurgence in popularity of coloured gemstones ensured that rubies, sapphires, garnet, topaz, coral, shell and pearls were introduced into jewellery making. Similarly, as can be seen throughout Bridgerton, from 1780 Georgian jewellers began to use paste or glass as a gemstone alternative, allowing them to create far more dramatic and elaborate pieces including tiaras, hair adornments, necklaces like waterfalls and earrings akin to chandeliers which quickly became the toast of every debutante in the country.
Whilst Georgian jewellery has always been sought-after within the collectors’ market, there is certainly now an uptake from private buyers looking for a very original piece. In complete contrast to modern day machine manufactured jewellery, each piece from the Georgian period is handmade and a complete one off, adding to its desirability. Cameos, using coral, agate and shell and for use in necklaces, brooches and rings were one of the most popular styles and whilst these previously have been viewed as pretty old hat within the market they appear now slowly creeping back into fashion. Mourning and sentimental jewellery was also hugely important in the Georgian period. Brooches and lockets with compartments for woven hair from a lost loved one were as de rigeur as miniature portraits or ‘lovers eye’ pieces which depicted the eye of a spouse, loved one or child. Famously Marina Thompson in Bridgerton, cousin of the Featheringtons, wears a ‘lovers eye’ necklace, which reveals the identity of her secret and scandalous lover, Sir George Crane. Original examples of ‘lovers eye’ pieces are few and far between, however Cheffins will be offering a ‘lovers eye’ ring at the next Jewellery, Silver and Watches sale with an estimate of £300 - £500. Away from the sentimental pieces, other motifs which were popular during the period were flowers, crescents, ribbons, bows, leaves, feather plumes and sprays of foliage. And when it came to metalworking, the cannetille technique was all the rage in the 1820s and 1830s and involved incredibly intricate wire work designs. This became common on belcher style chains and bracelets, and again, genuine examples are hard to come by.
Undoubtedly the Georgian era was one of the most innovative and fast-moving periods in the history of jewellery design, and its extensive influence can still be seen today in modern pieces. As the Bridgerton effect continues to work its way throughout the modern psyche (with season two currently being filmed), the desirability for genuine antique pieces is set to grow. For anyone looking to add to an existing collection or would like to make a foray into collecting jewellery from the period, trusted dealers and auction houses are a good place to start. Values can range from around £300 for a cameo ring right up to well into the thousands for more ornate pieces.”
Georgian jewellery will be available at the next Cheffins Jewellery, Silver and Watches Sale on 15th April 2021, in Cambridge, to view the catalogue or register to bid online visit -https://www.cheffins.co.uk/fine-art/catalogue-view,the-jewellery-silver-watches-sale_185.htm