Georgian Jewelry – An Overview

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Georgian Era: 1714-1837

The burgeoning art scene, great strides in science and world exploration, the advent of rail travel, and changing societal roles for women, created the perfect backdrop for the creation of the magnificent jewelry we call Georgian.

Influences/Advancements of the Era

  • New discoveries in wicks and cleaner, longer-burning candle “recipes” finally made these costly items available to the masses.  The impact on the diamond-wearing public was nothing short of electrifying.
  • Discovery of diamonds in Brazil in the early 1700s and India’s Golconda diamond mine provided and abundance of these precious gems. Diamonds soared to the height of fashion for evening wear.
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Gold alloys were 18K or higher and jewelry was fabricated by hand.  The rolling mill,  c.1750, enabled the creation of uniform sheets of gold and silver, relieving the burden of hand hammering sheet gold from blocks.
Georgian Rose Cut Diamond Silver Earrings. c.1800.


Silver was the only available precious white metal. It was used primarily to enhance the look of diamonds, whitening their color. Most colored gemstones were set in gold.
Georgian Pinchbeck Earrings.


An effort by Christopher Pinchbeck to create gold from base metal resulted in an alloy of 83% copper and 17% zinc. Pinchbeck jewelry was popular in its own right.

Steel Bracelet c. 18th Century.

Iron & Steel

Detailed iron and steel jewelry was another fashion option. Steel possessed the same glimmering quality under candlelight as diamonds, thus making it an evening-wear stand-in for the more costly gems.


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Garnet & Foil Backed Quartz

Colored Stones

For daytime jewelry wear, garnet, topaz, emerald, and ruby were popular, as were coral, amber, ivory, and pearlsTurquoise, translucent agates and carnelian were also used in a variety of ways. 

Georgian Diamond Flower Brooch.
Mine Cut Diamonds


Old mine and rose-cut diamonds were the preferred gems for evening wear. Diamonds were cut by hand resulting in a special inner fire reflecting the plethora of flickering candles.

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Seed Pearls


Natural pearls during the Georgian era were very rare and, therefore very expensive. The abundance of seed pearls made them a popular option. Blown glass faux pearls were also a common substitution in Georgian jewelry.

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Garnets with Glass Drops

Faux Gems

Right alongside these genuine gems, and almost equally as popular, were the imitations. Leaded glass, opaline glass, Vauxhall glass, tassies, and Wedgwood’s Jasperware beads and cameos were used to imitate all manner of colored gemstones.


Repoussé Georgian Pink Topaz and Chrysoberyl Brooch with Cuir Roulé Motifs.


A decorative technique whereby three-dimensional low-relief designs are formed by using punches and hammers on the reverse side of the metal.

Late Georgian Cannetille and Turquoise Bracelet.


Created with fine gold wires twisted together, or thinly hammered strips, that were coiled into intricate designs, cannetille decorations were often used together with the application of granulation (tiny gold beads).

Georgian Foil Backed Chrysoberyl Bracelet.

Foil Back

Foil backing (or foiling) is a gemstone enhancement treatment in which a thin sheet of metal or other material (sometimes colored) is placed behind the gemstone in order to reflect more light, and/or color, back into the stone and then toward the viewer. Foil-backed stones had closed settings to prevent damage.

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Enamel is a type of glass that, when fired at a high temperature, forms a transparent and colorless fondant. This material can then be colored with oxides and/or chloride and applied to metal surfaces.


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Layered Jewelry

A lovely layering of some of the period’s iconic styles includes a striking garnet and pearl cross, a garnet carbuncle swag necklace, a garnet rivière, and a longchain.

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En Tremblant Brooches

A popular technique during the era, this brooch features a flower set “en tremblant”–a French term meaning “to tremble.” A hidden spring creates movement when worn.

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Mourning/Remembrance Jewelry

Sentimental jewelry worn to remember loved ones, both lost and living, often featured hair, photographs, and materials such as jet and onyx.

Georgian Diamond Day-and-Night Earrings.

Hanging Earrings

Long diamond earrings were favored for the evening. These, set with table-cut diamonds, have detachable drops so the tops can be worn separately.

Final Notes

Gold assaying, a testing process that determines the purity of metal and the proportion of noble metals in an object, was not enforced until the 1900s. Therefore, you will find very few authentic Georgian jewelry pieces with stamps of metal purity or of any maker’s marks.

As beautiful as the pieces were, owners of jewelry from this era often had them melted down to make new jewels that reflected current trends. An original authentic Georgian jewel is truly a rare treasure.

Shop at Lang

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