Light, graceful, and elegant designs were characteristic of the Edwardian era, named for King Edward of Britain. Running from 1901 to about 1920, the Edwardian era is perhaps best known for extensive use of filigree techniques. By applying threads of gold, platinum, and other precious metals to the surface of their settings, Edwardian jewelers gave their jewelry a wonderfully lacy look. A piece of Edwardian jewelry was thus the perfect complement to the Edwardian woman’s ensemble, with her dress of lace and silk and hat topped with feathers.
The Edwardian era was a time of both continuity and change. Although the 20th century was beginning, the culture of Victorian times had not completely receded, and jewelry was still designed to convey femininity and decorum. Edwardian jewelers preferred simple, classic motifs and palettes able to highlight a gemstone’s inherent beauty. Roman, Ancient Greek, Napoleonic, and French Baroque influences were all evident in Edwardian jewelry styles. Tassels, bows, laurel wreaths, garlands of flowers, and scrolls were also prevalent motifs that illustrated the refined yet energetic sensibility of the era.
Diamonds, pearls, and platinum were key components in Edwardian rings and jewelry. Pearls and diamonds were prized for their understated elegance, and jewelry was designed to showcase their natural beauty. Platinum, likewise, was an Edwardian favorite. Strong yet lightweight, it permitted jewelers to create “invisible” settings in which little metal was needed to secure a gemstone. Together, diamonds, pearls, and platinum—or some combination thereof—were an unbeatable combination. The white-on-white appearance was considered the epitome of sophistication and class.