Antique Jewellery

Jewellery more than one hundred years old is usually referred to as antique; however, the term ‘antique jewellery’ covers many different types, ages and styles. In Europe, the jewellery of the Middle Ages (medieval), which was often functional, included jewelled ring brooches and girdles, in addition to the religious icons and tokens of love. Renaissance jewellery (15th to early 17th centuries) was developed in Italy under the patronage of the noble families in the princedoms.
Exquisite gemstones have come from more recently discovered deposits in the Americas, Africa, Australia and Siberia. Magnificent Colombian emeralds first reached Europe in the 16th century, brought to Europe by the Spanish Conquistadors; the emeralds were of a better colour and size than those that had been previously mined in Habachtal (Austria) and Egypt, and perhaps from ancient Asian sources. Exploration of Brazil revealed gem deposits especially rich in topaz, tourmaline, chrysoberyl, and agates. South African diamonds and Australian opals are two important 19th-centur discoveries.
Another term in common use is ‘period jewellery’ which is recognizable, by its style or design, as coming from a particular period or time Notable British period jewellery includes that designed during the reign of a particular monarch or dynasty, such as Georgian and Victorian. Other jewellery is associated with a particular group or movement, such as Arts and Crafts (1890-1914), or a distinctive era, such as Art Nouveau (1885-1915), Art Deco (mid 1920s-1930s) and Retro (1940s-1950s). Although the dates give an idea of the initial period of design and manufacture, modern jewellers continue to design and make jewellery that would be described as being, for instanc, in a Art Deco style.
The Art Nouveau style was flamboyant and free flowing, in contrast to the earlier styles of a mass production, and covered all areas of design. Many ideas were taken from nature, with floral patterns, butterflies and birds, and beautiful women in flowing gowns. Jewellery made use of cabochons of opal and moonstone pearls and colourful enamelling, in addition to faceted stones.
Art Deco originated in France as an alternative to flowing designs of Art Nouveau, The strong colours, mainly black and white, and the rigid geometric designs of Art Deco are in Stark contrast to those of Art Nouveau.

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