1714 - 1837
The Georgian era spanned the reign of 4 King Georges from 1714 to 1837. This era had a rocky beginning with the throne of England being left to George I, born and raised in Hanover (modern-day Germany,) who inherited his reign from his Cousin, Queen Anne, via his mother's lineage as she was the granddaughter of the King of England, and protestant. Catholic Kings were prohibited under the Act of Settlement 1701, so a 54 year old George took the throne of England as a Hanoverian Prince, and was not very popular at court as he was seen as a cold, mainlander, who perhaps was not the right Prince for the job as he was not able to speak the English language.
This lack of popularity and ability to rule was not perceived on the continent however. He was seen as a leader who held progressive values, and chose not to censor artists and writers during The Enlightenment, in fact he provided sanctuary to Votaire when the philosopher was exiled from Paris in 1726.
Seeing as George I was perceived by much of England as being cold towards the public, it makes sense, that in fine jewelry and art of this transitional period there are elements of darkness, confusion, grief and rebirth. In most of the arts during this era, posthumous imagery flourished as the world once again recreated its self. A lot of the Georgians were unhappy under the rein of the first 2 Georges and there is an element of quiet rebellion against them in the handmade. Common forms of construction that are reminiscent of much folk art formats, becomes a way to design. The elaborate pieces that I find most interesting reflect a sense of contrast to themselves by framing the humble with the extravagant and visa versa. When George II took the throne, England sneered at the decadence and hierarchy, but some historians argue that this indulgent-style of ruling bred the emergence of the middle classes as the powers of Ministers and Parliament took hold firmly under such a hands-off monarch, and that this allowed for more creative individualism.
Weather it be a feat of precision such as the faceting of a large stone or the pinpoint detail of a woman’s eye painted on bone or ivory, a halo of contrasts frame themselves, and evolve into a stronger, more elaborated aesthetic identity with the reign of George III, the first of the Hanoverian kings to be born in England. Coat of arms and signets become popular, once again framed by stones, silver, and gold with new setting practices and more materials to work with. New techniques or casting and enameling emerge and jewelers play with the Momenta Mori scenes more and more. Braids of hair are woven into crystal frames, bone skulls and caskets adorn the center pieces of elaborate earrings, necklaces and rings. All emphasized by the revolutionary war that George III refused to conceit to for far too long, and the turmoil with France, and his defense of his homeland’s ability to be the righteous.