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ANTIQUE TERMINOLOGY


The Georgian Era

1714-1830

This Georgian Era saw a great increase in night time activities as improvements in the manufacturing of candles allowed for longer burning and brighter candles and the ability to see past sundown. Events like lavish balls and soirees saw an increase in popularity. This new freedom gave way to an emerging chapter in jewelry history. Women often wore pearls, garnets, moss agate or colored gems in daytime while saving their diamonds for the evening. Rose cut diamonds decorated jewelry pieces, offering sparkle in candlelight but in a somewhat gothic tone.


The Victorian Era

1837-1901

As England’s longest reigning (and arguably most beloved) monarch, Victoria’s span as queen saw enormous changes in industry, fashion, and jewelry. Because the Victorian Period encompasses 64 years, it’s often compartmentalized into three sub-periods known as The Romantic Period, The Grand Period, and The Aesthetic Period. A favorite throughout the Victorian Era, Bohemian garnets have a richness and transparency that suited this opulent time. Usually clustered together, Bohemian garnets were often set in “Victorian gold”, an alloy with greater copper content giving it a warm rosy tint. Along with rich red garnets, the imagery of wheat is integral to the Victorian Era. A hearty grain and a pretty pattern, wheat was associated with women and their shared responsibilities to society. Nourished by wheat products, women fed their families leading to health, wellbeing, and prosperity.


The Art Nouveau Era

1890-1914

The mood of Art Nouveau jewelry is soft, mystical, and romantic. Pale colors and flowing, undulating curves helped to establish a soothing aura. Art Nouveau jewelry was a reaction to a number of things going on in French society at that time, including women’s fight to secure more rights for themselves outside of the home by getting an education and a job. This is why so much of Art Nouveau is woman-centric. Stylized flowers (especially orchids), vines, animals, butterflies, birds, swans, snakes, peacock feathers appeared most commonly as brooches, cameos, dangling earrings, necklaces.


The Edwardian Era

1900-1915

Artisans who chose not to embrace Art Nouveau or the Arts and Crafts movement ebbed towards more traditional designs while also sharing the curving lines of the time. The “new” designs of the Edwardian Era had their roots firmly planted in eighteenth- century jewelry, managing to honor the heavy ornamental motifs while creating delicate openwork pieces. Platinum and diamond brooches dominated the industry. Millegraining became a trademark technique of the time as well as open work or “filigree”. Engravings of orange blossoms donned rings and earrings alike. A hopeful and celebratory flower, orange blossoms were popular as wedding flowers for their scent and symbolism for prosperity and bounty. Long glittering earrings with miniature garland-style wreaths and articulated center stones complimented the swaying fabrics of the time.


The Art Deco Era

1920-1935

Born largely of the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, designers pushed to eliminate the flowing lines of Art Nouveau and distill designs to their basic geometric essence. Designs became streamlined and symmetrical as a look forward toward modernism and the machine age. The styles of Art Deco were an extension of the opulence and free-spending abandon of the 1920s. Diamonds were set with rubies, emeralds, and sapphires to boast their saturated color. Diamonds also found their way into illusion settings, emphasizing a stone’s size with clever metal work. While Art Deco is considered to have ended in 1935, the style’s emphasis on geometrical shapes, abstract designs, cubism, modernism and oriental art has extended its influence all the way through the 1950s and 1960s


Retro & Vintage Jewelry

1940-1980

The era of retro and vintage jewelry spanning from 1940s-1980s saw a huge range of styles due to the rapid changes in manufacturing. Mid-Century jewelers used long lines, star and floral motifs as well as sculptural pieces as part of the Modernist movement. Production techniques in the 1950’s and 60’s allowed for a variety of styles in gold such as openwork, brushed finishes, mesh and braided details. Matching jewelry sets were the rage in materials from bakelite to gold. The mass manufacturing of “costume jewelry” led to the use of durable plastics in bright colors or tortoise patterns.


Antique Diamonds

One of the many reasons why we love antique diamonds – they have much more sparkle. They are also markers of a dying art – hand craftsmanship. With all our modern tools and lasers that facet stones like cookie-cutters based on the latest trends, modern jewelers have lost the integrity and skill set that their predecessors once had.

Rose cut

1500’s – 1800’s
  • No table (flat top), but rather gradually pointed.
  • Symmetrical triangular facets and a flat bottom.
  • Very old style cut, but a modern version is still used today.

Mine Cut

1810-1880
  • Smallest table, very large “open” culet (point at the bottom). The culet is cut off because they did not have the technology to bring to a point.
  • Very deep, large crown angle.
  • Can range from round to cushion shape in silhouette from above.
  • Cut entirely by hand, before modern tools that began the development of the round brilliant cut. True mine cuts that you will see in our store are only from 1860-1880.

Old European Cut

1880-1930
  • Small table, large crown angle, overall very deep, medium culet.
  • Earliest form of the round brilliant cut.

Transitional Cut

1920-1940
  • Medium table, small open culet, small star facets.
  • Transition between older cuts and Modern Round Brilliants.
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