Edwardian (1890-1920)

Style Characteristics
Also known as "the garland style," Edward jewelry was inspired by the decorative elements adorning eighteenth-century French Louis XVI furniture and objects such as bows, ribbons, wreaths, urns, stars, crescents and, of course, garlands of small floral and foliate motifs. Open trelliswork and millegrained knife-edge wires, and collets created the appearance of lace in saw-pierced platinum mounts set throughout with circular cut diamonds.

The Boer War began in South Africa in 1899 and consequently prices for De Beers reserve stock rose. Queen Victoria died in 1901 and the coronation of her eldest son, Edward VII, took place the following year. Edward VII died in 1910, but the style that bears his name continued into the 1920s. Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibited his jewelry designs for the first time at the 1904 St. Louis, Missouri, World's Fair. In 1910, the Ballets Russes performed Schéhérazade in Paris, inspiring a trend toward colorful and exotic designs that greatly influenced the decorative arts - including jewelry - in the following decade. Auguste Victor Louis Verneuil received U.S. patents for his flame fusion process for synthetic rubies in 1904 and for blue sapphires in 1911. The U.S. National Stamping Act, requiring the marking of gold and silver content, was enacted in 1906. the Cullinan Diamond, which was 3,106 carats in its rough form, was presented to Edward VII in 1907. Joseph Asscher cleaved the diamond in 1908. The Cullinan I, a 530.20-carat pear-shaped stone, and Cullinan II, a 317.40-carat cushion-shaped stone, were mounted in the Scepter and Imperial State Crown for the coronation of George V in 1911. The same year, Evalyn Walsh McLean purchased the Hope Diamond from Cartier. The Titanic sank in 1912.

Metals & Stones
Platinum was by far the most often used metal until World War I. Platinum-topped yellow gold was seen in high-end jewels of the early Edwardian period and also in less expensive jewelry of the teens and 1920s. Karl Gustav Richter in 1915 and the Belais Brothers in 1917 patented allows for white gold, which were used as a substitute for platinum during and after World War I. Diamonds, pearls and moonstones were favored for the all-white "garland style," but high-quality, large faceted colored gemstones were often used as a focal point for an otherwise all-diamond and platinum jewel.

Important Designers
In France, Cartier was the delineator of the garland style. In Russia, the guilloche enamels of Fabergé were likewise representative of the period. In the U.S., Tiffany & Co. and Marcus & Co. produced designs that rivaled those of the French haute joailliers. Newark, New Jersey, manufacturers were influenced by both the Art Nouveau and Edwardian styles.

Old European brilliants predominated in the Edwardian era, with small rose and single cuts used to delineate lacy, openwork designs. Cartier introduced baguettes in 1912. Marquise and pear shapes were used on occasion. In 1902, Joseph Asscher developed the "Asscher cut," an octagonal variation of the step cut with 74 facets, small table and high crown. A power-driven diamond saw, circa 1900, was introduced in the U.S. by its Belgian inventor. An improved version of the saw came along in 1910.