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Georgian Jewellery Nowadays

Friday, 4 May 2018  |  Anne
Find Georgian Jewellery Nowadays The Georgian era started in 1714 with the accession of George I to the British throne and lasts until the end of the regency in 1830. When looking at Georgian jewellery we normally also include the reign of William IV as this takes us up to the start of Queen Victoria's  reign with her new influences on style. Some of the most delicate and precious jewellery was made during the Georgian era, this is mainly in the hands of wealthy collectors and museums these days. Certainly, any really good pieces which do reach the market today are beyond the reach of the majority of antique jewellery buyers.  So lets look at how to find Georgian jewellery nowadays.
  Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a collection of genuine Georgian jewellery which is now about 200 years old? With a bit time spent searching and a bit of good luck to go with it, some very pretty pieces can still be found. Here's a look at some of the elements in Georgian jewellery and how to find some genuine pieces available today.            

What distinguishes Georgian Jewellery?

Wonderful craftsmanship, we had not really entered the machine age during the Georgian era although the industrial revolution was in progress. Certainly, at the start of George, I reign most jewellery was handmade rather than mass produced.


Diamonds but not as we know them today, they had a more basic cut which did not reflect the light and sparkle like modern diamonds do. To overcome this they had a foiled back setting with gold or silver behind this. The light could not come through the stones as it does nowadays and this closed back setting makes it very important not to get them wet. When you are looking to find Georgian jewellery nowadays look for paste. Paste was invented to imitate diamonds, paste is a high lead content glass which can be faceted and polished just like a diamond can.  Paste was set into gold and silver and almost as highly regarded as diamonds at the time. Another diamond substitute at the time was marcasite which as today went well with silver. Not exactly a gemstone but Wedgwood first developed his jasper cameos during this time and these have been popular ever since. Cameos carved from shell and hardstone were brought back from the grand tours of Europe and were a huge jewellery influence
Garnets and amethysts tended to be cut very flat and like other gemstones foiled at the back and closed set at the rear A review of the stones used in Georgian jewellery would not be complete without mentioning Vauxhall glass. This is a good to find Georgian jewellery nowadays. This is highly polished and faceted glass pieces which are mirrored on the reverse and mounted in groups such as a flower shape. Other popular stones were turquoise, coral, pearls and ivory.  


Higher carats in gold 18 and 22 were normal. Silver for setting stones in and rolled gold for cheaper pieces of jewellery. Strange black jewellery made from Iron and cut steel was also about but much of this has deteriorated and gone rusty by now. The mysterious metal alloy of zinc and copper called  Pinchbeck was popular as a gold imitation. Pinchbeck was named after its inventor Christopher Pinchbeck who first produced it circa 1720.


Pearl necklaces and bracelets, pendants which hung from delicate silk ribbons. Portrait miniatures as brooches or earrings including some strange jewellery showing just an eye. Georgian eye jewellery is very sought after these days but do beware as most of what is available is much more modern than it pretends to be. Chatelaines were worn and this fashion also continued into the Victorian times. Long earrings, everyday rings in marquise shapes. Brooches were flower shaped which have never gone out of fashion and also the dainty lace pin with a locket compartment. Memento Mori ( remembering you will die) had a fashion ( was that a bit like today's Goths and Emos ? ) This like the more modern interpretation has skull and coffin motifs.  

What tells me its Georgian Jewellery?

As I said earlier there are still genuine pieces of Georgian jewellery around but remember they are about 200 years old now and very few pieces have survived in unused condition. It is more than acceptable for pieces of this age to have a little wear to the reverse where it is not going to be seen.  Do your research and ask lots of questions, you could check out pieces your local auction house is describing as Georgian but do ask them if it is definitely genuine. Buy from a reputable dealer who will give you a receipt and where you have a day or two to consider your purchase at home and can return it if you're not happy. offers both of these on all its jewellery but is not able to source many pieces which can definitely be attributed as Georgian. Georgian jewellery has a light and delicate appearance compared to Victorian pieces. If it is large and bulky consider it to be Victorian. Look for indicators of craftsmanship and handicraft rather than machine made.

Georgian jewellery today.

Yes, you can buy Georgian jewellery but as with all antiques, it depends upon what you want and how much you are prepared to pay. I suggest that the best value pieces are Georgian lace pin brooches. There are small pieces of jewellery a centimetre or two long and they must have been high fashion as a relatively large number of these have survived compared with other pieces.  Georgian lace pins in good condition ( considering their age) can be found from £50 upwards depending on how fancy they are and what materials they are made from. Generally, Georgian lace pins are made of Rolled Gold or what is known as Gold Filled. Both of these have a real gold skin with other materials below the gold. Do not confuse this with today's gold plating, it is far superior. 


<h3>About Georgian Lace Pins</h3>
Ive found an area of collecting which allows you to buy genuine antiques, over 200 years old at under a £100 each. There is a huge variety available in the decoration and gemstones and are they are wearable too. <strong>Georgian lace pins</strong> are much undervalued in my opinion. Let's take a look at a few and find out more.
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I've seen Georgian Lace Pins called a variety of name such as scarf pins, handkerchief pins, lace brooches and mourning pins. I suppose very little is known of what they were originally known as in the 1700s and early 1800s. Whatever their name they are small and lightweight and so would be suitable for pinning onto lace or a muslin handkerchief.
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Lace pins I have come across largely date from the earlier 1800s. Jewellery from before this time is very rare and costly and once we get into the Victorian era ( starting 1837). The fashion gradually changed to larger pieces. Gold, rolled gold and pinchbeck are the most common metals. I can't remember seeing a silver lace pin.
Almost always there is a central locket compartment which generally contains a plaited or woven lock of hair. Over the central compartment is a convex glass or rock crystal cover which may magnify the contents a little. If you wish to access this compartment you would probably need the help of your local jeweller.  It's not something I would like to try for myself as they are tightly sealed to protect the contents. Empty Georgian pins are quite sought after by those wishing to preserve a lock of hair nowadays.

On the back of a lace pin, you will find that the stones all have covered backs which was the way in the 1700's and early 1800s.
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Nowadays the stones are left open so that light can get in. In the 17 and earlier 1800s they were closed and gemstones had a layer of foil behind them to reflect the light. This was because gemstones could not be faceted as they are my modern machinery and the foil helped the flatter cuts to shine. Due to this closed back setting, please do not get lace pins wet as the moisture will ruin the appearance of the gemstones.


The pins and hinges are almost always the same. A broad hinge, small c catch and pin stem which is longer than the brooch. You can see these features in the last picture.

The gemstones you will see set into this antique jewellery include real seed pearls, flat cut garnets and amethyst, French and real jet, diamonds, coral and the then newly popular paste.