How were important Earrings and Dress Ornaments in the 17th century? In the 17th century a woman always put on her earrings whether she was dressed or undressed. By day she wore fake pearl earrings and paste hearings to coordinate with the clothing. Fine diamond jewelry was kept for the evening and embroidered stomachers, which were part of the dress frontage, were decorated by jewels.
There were suites of left and right coordinating jeweled pieces called dress ornaments and they decrease in size as they were placed down the stomacher. Sometimes a woman’s skirts were decorated with smaller matching brooches.
Dress ornaments in the form of diamond bows and shuttles could be used to decorate a dress. In the 1630s, large quantity of pearls were used as clothing accessories. To be truly fashionable pearls needed to be worn in abundance. In the 17th century, Jaquin of Paris patented a method of making fake pearls. He coded blown glass hollow balls with varnish mixed with iridescent ground fish scales. The hollow balls were then filled with wax strengthen them. This method made Paris the main producer of fake pearls for over 200 years.
Paste is a compound of glass containing white lead oxide in protest. Paste jewelry was usual in the 1670s and were worn in court. The best and most long-lasting paste jewelry was produced after 1734 by Georges Strass. Most fake jewelry came out of Paris. Just about any kind of a gem could be made, including fake opals. Many pieces of fake jewelry have survived in their original setting, but fine estate pieces of real gems were often broke up for resetting into the more fashionable styles of the era.
After 1760 the production of fake jewelry spread to London. Steel that was easily produced in the industrial revolution was used for settings for marcasite and Jasper. Glass and Wedgewood porcelain paste cameos were made in English factories and were popular. Ornate shoe buckles a paste and steel and tin were part of fashionable dress. A fad at this time was the elaborate paste jeweled buttons, which were fashionable in British society. Semi precious jewels such as uncut garnets became usual as part of less than formal day dress.
During Napoleon's empire when he was Emperor of France in 1804 he revived jewelry and fashion as a new court of pomp and ostentatious display. Joailliers worked with fine jewelry and bijoutiers used less precious materials. The members of the new French Imperial family had the former French royal family gems reset in a neoclassical style. These new trends in jewelry were copied in Europe and particularly England. Greek and Roman architecture were the main influence for the designs, as famous discovery of ancient treasure had not yet happened.
Parures were a matching set of coordinated precious gems which include a necklace, a comb, a tiara, a diadem, a bandeau, a pair of bracelets, pins, rings, drop earrings or stud earrings and possibly a belt clasp. Both Josephine and later Napoleon second wife had magnificent sets of Parures.
After Napoleon's cameo decorated coronation crown was seen, cameos were the rage. Sometimes cameos were carved from hard stone but more often from conch shells or set pieces of Wedgewood porcelain.
When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 jewelry was romantic and nationalistic. It gave attention to the pressure of European folk art, which later influenced the arts and crafts movement. Until the mid-century most Western jewelry came from Europe, the jewelry soon began to be made in American Australia. Although jewelry had been made in multiple methods of production for centuries, mid-Victorian mass production in Birmingham England, Germany and Providence Rhode Island meant that standards were lowered.
Victorian women rebelled when they saw some of this machine made jewelry even though what has survived seems to be of good quality. Some jewelers like Tiffany (read article - Jewelers) began to make fine jewelry of high standard and they soon opened shops in the main cities of Europe.