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Although the Edwardian period officially began in Great Britain in 1901 when Edward, son of Victoria, ascended to the British throne, stylistic elements of the era (known as La Belle Epoque in France) began while his mother was still alive, and continued for a few years after his death. King Edward reveled in luxury, and his rich countrymen followed his lead. Elegance and fashion were the rule, with jewelry glittering brightly at galas in London townhouses and Parisian hôtels particuliers.

Metalworking—specifically the invention of the oxyacetylene torch, which could reach very high temperatures—allowed jewelers to forge airy, lightweight designs from platinum, which till then had been too challenging to work with. This gave way to the delicate platinum bows, ribbons and tassels of the garland style. Jewelry was often edged with delicate platinum millgraining—another technique made possible by new technology. Necklaces veered in length from the choker to the sautoir—a very long chain or beaded necklace, often terminating in tassels. But in fact, these “new” styles weren’t exactly new; they were inspired by the Court of Versailles of the late 1700s—another era of over-the-top luxury.



At Fred Leighton we buy and sell vintage jewelry that has stood the test of time. Jewelry with beauty, story and style. Designs that remain as audacious now as ever. If you possess such jewels, we’d love to meet them.

Please contact us to arrange a consultation and discuss the possibilities.

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