By Amy Brenan, Director of Heirlooms Jewellers, 21 South Street, Wareham.
The Edwardian era, also known as ‘La Belle Epoque’ – literally translated to ‘The Good Times’ – lasted from 1901-14, and was the last era to be named after a reigning monarch, Edward VII.
He was known as a playboy and lover of fine things, including jewellery.
Cartier, renowned design house for the wealthy, became the official jeweller to King Edward and the focus was on delicate and pretty hand-made pieces.
You will find many designs featuring ribbons and bows, as well as millegrain, a fine-beaded edging.
Platinum grew in popularity at this time, which suited the type of jewellery design.
Pearls were considered to be a symbol of status as they cost more than diamonds, and you will see many pieces that incorporate both gemstones, especially in a tiara, the must-wear item at the numerous parties held by King Edward!
For the masses, there was a wider availability of gemstones in this period and the dawn of machine-made settings allowed jewellery to be more affordable and therefore accessible.
9ct yellow gold was a more economical choice and stones such as peridot, garnet and spinel were similarly coloured but cheaper alternatives to emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
Long necklaces that highlighted a more revealing neckline were very popular, as were ornate rings featuring as many diamonds as possible.
At Heirlooms, we have just bought in the Edwardian 9ct yellow gold turquoise tennis bracelet you can see in the picture, above right.
Despite it being over 100 years old, it is in perfectly wearable condition and would look great stacked with modern bangles and bracelets.
So, we have lot to be grateful to the Edwardians for in terms of jewellery style and colour that still has so much influence today.