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Jewelry Periods – La Belle Epoque

I signed up for the Christies History of Jewelry Design course. The course is delivered via Canvas, an online learning platform and is facilitated by Vanessa Cron, an independent Jewelry Historian who delivers the course over 6 bite sized modules covering the History of Jewelry design from 1880 till today.   

Over the course of 6 weeks, you go on a discovery journey uncovering some facts, stories and geopolitical context around the history of jewelry design from the Belle Epoque era all the way to the contemporary period. 

This is the first post in the series… starting off with La Belle Epoque AKA The Gilded age. 

La Belle Epoque (Turn of the 20th Century – 1871 and 1914)

La Belle Epoque, also known as the Edwardian age in the UK and the Gilded age in the US, was a very special and transitional age in human civilization. 

With the arrival of the second industrial revolution, the invention of electricity in its modern form along with other technological advances that allowed for scale manufacturing (mass production), all which meant economic growth in the western society creating a social layer of Bourgeoisie and Nouveaux riches.

 

Affluence meant lavish and extravagant life styles that demanded parties and lots of jewelry and show off for the ladies
Jewelry design in this period evolved around white opulence with a focus on diamond encrusted white jewels often made of platinum and white natural pearls.
Iconic fabric like designs featured a lot of nature inspired shapes including leaves, garlands of flowers, feathers, wheat as well as bows, ribbons, stars, crescents and wings.

Large carats of diamonds set on fish-net like gold or Resille, Millegrain set diamonds to accentuate the sparkle, and layers and layers of jewels from head tiaras to stomachers or Devant De Corsage were typical of this time. 

Tiaras were mandatory for evening parties and their sizes often reflected the wearer’s age and status. 

 

Sadly this dreamy and golden age ended with World War 1 putting an end to this lavish era that has always been fondly remembered by the French and associated with beauty and splendor. 



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