Fashionable Georgian and Regency Jewellery
On a recent trip to London, the Jane Austen Detectives visited The British Museum. Unbelievably, this iconic building is free to visit, although donations are gratefully received and are used to fund research and projects. Within the large expanse of the museum, there are many artefacts and exhibits to view. Our interest was drawn to the Georgian and Regency collections and in particular the fashionable jewellery of 1790 - 1850. We discovered more about the significance of jewels worn during the period and the jewellers who made them.
Fashionable jewellery of the 1790 - 1850 period
In the nineteenth century increased prosperity led to the spread of high fashion jewellery to a wider range of social groups. At the same time, the jeweller’s repertoire expanded to include new products in new materials, such as iron, platinum and seed-pearls, and types of spy glasses. These were worn at all levels of society.
The new accessories were for everyday use, while traditional diamond jewellery was still worn for formal occasions. Martha Wilmot observed at a court function in Vienna in 1820, ‘the ladies were splendidly dressed, and the gentlemen nearly covered in diamonds - diamond sword knots, diamond buttons, diamond Stars, diamond buckles, diamond Orders. It was quite a blaze and made the Ladies Combs, flowers and necklaces look like nothing in comparison’.
The collection is divided into four groups: as well as the new materials and gem-set jewels, there is a group of pieces in the Neo-Classical style and a comprehensive collection of message jewels. Many of these personal message tokens originated in court circles: in 1817, the London jeweller, Joseph Kitching, supplied the Prince Regent with a ‘ Turkois Diamond Padlock (with) Heart and Key.
For more information: www.britishmuseum.org
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