Being a quick guide to Georgian jewellery, all the major issues surrounding or involved in getting the real Georgian deal are discussed here, but not in great detail. Therefore, also provided are a number of useful resources where you can learn more, buy genuine Georgian pieces or simply browse and enjoy discovering more about what comprises some of the oldest and most astonishing jewellery to exist in 2016.
The Georgian Period: A Quick Introduction
The Georgian Period is contained within the years of 1714 and 1837 and gained its name from the fact that within this span of 123 years four separate monarchs all called George each occupied the British throne.
At the tail end of the Georgian period, it seems unfair not to add, a fifth monarch, that of King William IV, also took to the throne. Reigning for only seven short years, until his death in 1837, his influence on jewellery design and output at the time was minimal. Hence, he is often forgotten entirely.
Meanwhile, the influence the four George’s had on jewellery design during the period to which they gave their name was both immense and as well telling; art, after all imitates life and life during the Georgian period was politically, socially and as well when it came to fashion exciting and, ever changing.
To learn, in more depth, about the influence each king George had and how Georgian jewellery changed aesthetically over the period to reflect political, social and other changes in Britain and the wider world, you can do so by reading the blog feature: a Brief History of Georgian Jewellery, which you will find on the Laurelle Antique Jewellery Website.
Spotting a Fake: The Importance of Imperfection
Unless you are a trained gemologist or jeweller, spotting a fake jewellery item can be exceedingly difficult. This is especially true when buying antique.
Unlike modern jewellery, Georgian jewellery is unlikely to bear hallmarks which you can use to trace its origin, age or determine the metal(s) from which it has been made to authenticate it, or expose it as fake. Further, because Georgian jewellery was not mass or machine produced (two things that did not become available or even possible until the later part of the Industrial Revolution) it was all handmade and hand crafted. Hence, most pieces even at the time of their creation bore some ‘imperfections’.
Add to those original ‘imperfections’ the fact that genuine Georgian jewellery is that which has survived over at least 179 years (in 2016) and, suffice to say, scuffs and signs of wear and tear cannot of course be used as evidence an item is counterfeit or of substandard quality. In fact, an item being sold as supposedly Georgian which is perfect is almost certainly a fake. Then, it is of paramount importance to know where to buy and how to buy Georgian jewellery, at least if you want to avoid being potentially ripped off or inadvertently buying a replica.
For those interested in learning more about the blooming industry of replica Georgian and antique jewellery and how to tell the difference between a fake and the real deal, the Lisa Kramer Vintage website has on it a very insightful and unique history of ‘fake antiques’ which looks specifically at Victorian and Georgian jewellery.
Where and How to Buy Authentic Georgian Jewellery
Predating both Victorian and Edwardian jewellery, genuine examples of Georgian jewellery are rare. This means that Georgian jewellery can prove both expensive and also that it can be hard to find authentic examples. Because rarity often drives up demand this also further fuels those hoping to make some easy money at a consumer’s expense; hence, it is important when buying Georgian jewellery and more so even than when buying Victorian or Edwardian jewellery items to only ever buy from reputable jewellers, online stores and auctions house.
Then, to provide two such established and authentic places to buy and browse Georgian jewellery items, consider Laurelle Antique Jewellery, aforementioned, and also the UK auction house: Fellows & Sons, which is one of the UK’s best known and trusted auction house specialising in antique jewellery and as such is used by buyers and sellers internationally. This means that the breadth of choice somebody searching for a Georgian jewellery item can enjoy is likely to be more diverse and wide than that provided by many other auction houses.
Finally, it is worth at least considering buying online or at auction as buying online or at auction (either online or in person) is likely to save you a considerable amount over buying on the high street. Online retailers (of any kind) save a sizable amount of money by avoiding the cost of running a high street premise as they incur no rents, taxes or utilities. Meanwhile, auction houses are also a good place to grab a bargain, but this will depend on what is being sold and who enters the auction on the day either in person or via the internet.
Most auction houses, including Fellows & Sons, feature an online catalogue of the items they intend to sell ahead of an auction. Whilst this is great for those looking for something specific, it can mean that people enter an auction online or by phone as well as in person with the same intention as you: to bag that extra special Georgian piece. Hence, setting a budget and maximum bid ahead of partaking in an auction is paramount to avoid getting swept up in the excitement and ending up spending far more than you intended, or worse, spending more than you can afford.