VICTORIAN PERIOD  1837-1900

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In the early Victorian period the world of nature, the revival of interest in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages all continued to provide sources of inspiration. High Victorian style included stars, crescents, crosses and rosettes decorated with diamonds and pearls. Snakes were a popular motif, symbolising wisdom and eternity. Castellani pioneered a classical revival in Greek and Etruscan style. He used classical motifs such as shells, urns, amphorae and rams’ heads and he studied the goldsmiths’ techniques of the past, discovering a way to reproduce Etruscan granulation. This led to a surge in Etruscan style gold jewellery. Renaissance and Gothic style also provided a source of inspiration, the style reaching its zenith with Carlo Giuliano in the early 1860s. He became famous for delicately enamelled jewels, set with pearls and cabochon gemstones. With their discovery in South Africa in 1867, diamonds became more plentiful, less expensive and increasingly popular. By the 1890s coloured stones had gone completely out of fashion. With the death of Prince Albert in 1861, jet jewellery became popular. Apart from diamonds, the favourite stones of this period were carbuncles and turquoises. Cameos came back into fashion carved in onyx, chalcedony, amethyst and shell. An increase in the quantity of diamonds coming onto the market towards the end of the nineteenth century, made them more affordable; and there was increased interest in the quality of the gemstone. Emphasis moved from the setting to the stone itself and more delicate openwork collets and unobtrusive claws were seen, allowing plenty of light to pass through the stone. Millegrain setting became popular. A larger variety of coloured gemstones became commonplace. Kashmir sapphires appeared on the market at the beginning of the 1880s and American Montana sapphires during the 1890s. Demantoid garnets from the Ural Mountains, first discovered in 1860 also became popular, as did the use of black opals from Queensland, Australia.