An Art Deco sapphire and diamond bracelet An Edwardian diamond ring

Mid 19th Century  1860-1880

In contrast to the two previous decades hair ornaments and earrings were back in fashion as hair styles changed. Rather than the hair covering the ears, necklines were now exposed and hair tended to be gathered at the back of the head in elaborate styles of sophisticated elegance and femininity.

The jewellery trade was booming in both England and on the continent. France saw the inauguration of the new emperor Napolean III, Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, under the second empire. His wife EugĂ©nie based her style and tastes on those of Marie Antoinette who stood for the decadence and opulence of times gone by. Eugénieʼs favoured stones were emeralds which became second only to diamonds as the most desired gemstone for the French aristocracy. Trends in the first quarter of the century saw a revival of designs and motifs in the form of elaborate tiaras, carved gemstones and cameos as well as exotic jewellery made from tigerʼs claws.

During the early 1860ʼs Greek and Roman styles were given a new lease of life, pioneered by the Castellani family of master jewellers. They re-discovered difficult techniques used by the Etruscans to apply a very delicate granulation of gold beads covering the surface of gold jewellery. This gave the pieces a very delicate and ornate appearance. In addition to these techniques, jewellers often applied matt finishes which contrasted with that of bloomed and polished surfaces on a piece. At this time when ´The Grand Tour´ was taking place Castellani and classic design became very popular. Carlo Giulianoʼs (1831-1895) name also became synonymous with archaeological and renaissance-revival design.

The mid Victorian era was also known for the use of gemstones such as garnets which were inlaid with diamonds and pearls, sometimes to look like small insects. Often gemstones were carved and polished to fit the settings with bright enamel decoration and star-shaped motifs also popular.

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A pair of 19th century diamond pendent earrings A tigers eye, diamond and emerald turtle ring