Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Little Jewelry History ~ Part Two: Edwardian Era/The Chanel Influence

“Jewelry should be viewed with innocence, with artlessness,
just as we enjoy the sight of an apple tree in blossom
at the side of the road as we speed past in a motor-car.”
~ Coco Chanel

My previous history post left us at the end of the 19th century. We are now in the 20th century and the Edwardian period. There was a passion for the arts and fashion emerged with a new and intense femininity. It was a more slender, sinuous outline, with the new “S” shape that accentuated a woman’s natural curves.
Jewelry had a new lacy delicacy echoing an image of fragility.

A very important element affecting the popularity of costume jewelry was the “femme fatale”. Actresses and musical artists occupied an important position in society and always piled on the jewels for public appearances. Jewelry became a way for the admirers of these stars to imitate them, thus the Edwardian era introduced the start of the costume jewelry phenomenon.

Mass production changed the manufacture of jewelry and many important jewelers of the day used it to unleash their imaginations!

Mass production also introduced imitation pearls to the market.
And we cannot talk about imitation pearls with mentioning Coco Chanel. Chanel opened her first shop in Paris in 1910 and introduced her first luxurious costume jewelry in the early 1920’s. Her simple dress designs and the plain fabrics she used were an ideal foil for jewelry.

Bored by the seriousness of real jewels, Chanel began creating jewelry with artificial pearls. In her younger years pearls had been one of the most precious stones, and the privilege of aristocracy.
Chanel instigated an entirely new and brazen way to wear costume jewelry. Her designs consisted of yards of pearls, and were intended to be worn during the day with casual cloths. Very shocking for the day!

Lately I have been drawn to vintage pearls and rhinestones for my new jewelry creations. I love the old vintage glass pearl beads, the way they have worn to a warm smooth finish.

So with a nod to the master, here is my humble homage to Coco Chanel.


  1. Great post! Love the details on Coco Chanel...

  2. Love the jewelry you chose for your post! My favorite has to be your last piece in honor of Coco Chanel! Thank you for the history lesson about jewels.

  3. Oh wow lovely photo's they look amazing!!! Beautiful Work!

  4. Thank you, Elizabeth, Lisa and Kylie! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I love Coco Chanel, she was such an incredible, strong woman. So ahead of her time as an innovator and designer.

  5. This post is just as good as the first one! Beautiful pictures!!! LOVE them.

  6. Thank you lambs & ivy! I'm so happy you enjoy them!

  7. well done - I tweeted it - better late than never!;)