Pearls have been highly prized throughout history and across cultures. Ancient Romans considered pearls to be the
superlative display of status and wealth; the Greeks prized pearls for their unparalleled beauty and associated the gem with matrimony; and in a possibly apocryphal story, Cleopatra is said to have dissolved a pearl in a glass of wine and drunk it down to win a bet with Mark Antony that she could consume the wealth of an entire nation in one meal. In much more recent history, Jacques Cartier bought his store on Fifth Avenue in 1916 with just two pearl necklaces. This Edwardian crossover ring features two lustrous pearls flanked arced diamond shoulders set with old mine cut diamonds.
EDWARDIAN (1900 - 1910)
The Edwardian era gets its name from King Edward VII’s brief reign at the beginning of the 20th century. His Danish bride Alexandra was young, lovely, and fashionable; with a taste for trendy pieces rendered in diamonds and pearls. The jewelry tended toward airy lightness, often in the form of lacy filigree. The world was changing rapidly, but lots of the jewelry still reflected the Victorian ideals of decorum and femininity. Ancient Roman and Greek influences remained popular.
“White” jewelry became popular as plentiful deposits of platinum were discovered in Russia and improved smelting technology made it possible for jewelers to work in the noble metal. Platinum was seldom used by jewelers in earlier years owing both to its scarcity and high melting point. The jewelry trade took advantage of its rigid strength to create opulent openwork settings for increasingly brilliant diamonds. The old European cut was perfected, rounder and squatter than old mine. This took stone-cutting one step closer to the mathematically perfect round brilliant cut, which is the most popular diamond cut today. The now-iconic square Asscher cut was patented in 1902.
Hot on the heels of platinum, the alloy mixture that produces white gold was formulated and patented in 1915 in New York City. With Europe in the grip of WW1, the American jewelry industry was poised to become a world leader and innovator.