Friday, April 5, 2013

Georgian Gold Earrings

These earrings are such a beautiful example of jewelry from the Georgian period. Jewelry of this time was almost always made of at least 18K gold. Georgian jewelers were highly skilled and always made their pieces by hand, either by hammering the metal or using a rolling mill. I believe these to have been made on a rolling mill, as they are perfectly smooth. Rolling mills were used to make sheets of metals in varying thickness in order to make the metal smooth and easier to work with to create a final product. Once the metal was flattened, it would be formed into the piece. Earrings like these would be made using a sheet and therefore are hollow in the inside and quite light – perfect for painless wear! These are shaped in what is known as a torpedo – a long teardrop shape that was commonly used during this time. After pieces were formed, decoration could then be added.

The earrings have floral motifs around the end as well as a tiered design at the bottom. The technique is called cannetille, which is similar to filigree work. Both use very thin metal wires – here 18K gold – to create designs on a piece. Cannetille was a popular technique in the late Georgian period, but also continued into the Victorian era. The gold wire was often curled up, creating designs like those on these earrings, where the wire has been formed to look like small openwork flowers and coils. The wire is adhered by soldering it to the base of a piece. Granulation (a technique described previously on this blog) is often used on top of cannetille to add small beads onto a piece. Granulation can be seen in the center of each flower as well as the very tip of the earring. Jewelry from this time in excellent condition is quite rare. These earrings are a beautiful example of the period and show the true skill of Georgian artisans.