We are often enchanted by the jewelry in historical portraits. It’s opulent and romantic, and makes us wonder what sorts of fancy parties one attended in such extravagant jewels. It turns out that the folks in Victorian times were as equally enamored of ancient styles as we are of theirs. In the mid-19th century, jewelers fashioned incredible pieces, even suites of jewelry, that were directly inspired by the gems they saw in museums, and by Renaissance portraiture.
Victorian jewelers looked to the portraits and sketches of one Renaissance artist in particular, Hans Holbien the Younger. The first jewelry made that was truly “Holbienesque” was the Devonshire Parure, a seven piece set that included 88 fine gems; it was made around 1856. Jewelry made in the Renaissance Revival style features a centered gemstone with bright gold work, intricate enamel, and delicate dangles, usually pearls.
They say history repeats itself, and it’s certainly true with antique jewelry trends. What’s old is new again.