The jewelry we call Berlin iron
was produced as part of the gold-for-iron campaign that began in 1813 in what is now Germany. To fund the Prussian effort to repel the forces of Napoleon, citizens were urged to donate their gold to the state and were given a piece of lacquered iron jewelry in return. The drive for gold was quite successful, so much so that not only were the Prussian war chests filled, but also the wearing of gold jewelry became a social faux pas - unseemly and unpatriotic. As a result, Berlin iron jewelry became very fashionable and high street jewelers began to retail the distinctive black jewelry to satisfy demand for the style. (We have heard it argued that there were many monied people who didn't want to forfeit their gold and gems to the state, these people simply hid their precious jewels away and purchased Berlin iron jewelry in order to blend). These Berlin iron earrings feature neoclassical cameos on polished steel plates within gold wire frames. Berlin iron is quite rare, this is due, in part, to the fact that iron is prone to oxidation and rust. This means that you should take care not to get these earrings wet and store them in a cool, dry place.
GEORGIAN (1714 - 1837)
The Georgian Era was named for the English Kings George I, II, III and IV. Within the powerful nations of France and England, fine gemstone jewelry was worn only by the extremely wealthy, and the styles were regal and ornate. As imperialist war raged in the Americas, Caribbean, Australia, and beyond, the jewelry industry benefited: colored gems from all over the empire became newly available.
A mix of artistic influences from around Europe contributed to the feminine, glittering jewels of the era. Dense, ornate Baroque motifs from Italy showed up in Georgian jewelry, as did French Rococo’s undulating flora and fauna. Neoclassical style made use of Greek and Roman motifs, which were newly popular due to the recently uncovered ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Lapidary methods improved: the dome-shaped rose cut was popular, as was the “old mine cut”, a very early iteration of today’s round brilliant cut. The boat-shaped marquise diamond cut was developed around this time, supposedly to imitate the smile of Louis XV’s mistress, the marquise de Pompadour. Paste—an imitation gemstone made from leaded glass—was newly developed in the 18th century, and set into jewelry with the same creativity and care as its more precious counterparts.
Real and imitation gems were almost always set in closed-backed settings, lined on the underside with thin sheets of foil to enhance the color of the stone and highlight it's sparkle. This makes Georgian rings tough for modern women to wear, especially on an everyday basis: genteel, jewelry-owning ladies of the 18th century were not famous for working with their hands like we are. Nor did they wash their hands as much as we do. Water will virtually ruin a foiled setting, so take special care with your Georgian ring. Very little jewelry from this period is still in circulation, and it's very difficult to repair.