Sparkle like Marilyn

But it’s not just diamonds that are a girl’s best friend at Christmas, says Nick Davies

Marilyn Monroe hit the nail on the head with the words “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, however experience has led me to realise that you can add include rubies, sapphires, emeralds… the list goes on! At Christmas, the gift of an antique or vintage piece of jewellery is the opportunity to give something with history as well as romance, while the enduring quality of such an item only adds to the beauty and charm. Every era has its own jewllery ‘language’ and style that can be identified quite quickly. With a little homework you can soon familiarise yourself with each period’s shape and form – so here’s my simple guide to help you find that lovely present for the one you love: Classical Georgian – Pieces of this period were highly influenced by the classical revival during Napoleon’s First Empire. The delicate dresses and low necklines of the day were complemented by chandelier earrings, Riviera necklaces and feminine floral spray brooches. Sentimental Victorian – Jewels of the later 19th century are encrypted with hidden sentimental messages of love and romance with motifs like hearts, bows and flowers. The language of stones became hugely popular, an example being Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Topaz, each first letter being used to spell the word


Natural Art Nouveau – Jewellery is characterised by natural motifs such as flowers, butterflies and dragonflies often created from translucent gemstones like moonstones and opals teamed with subtle enamels. Elegant Edwardian – At the start of the 20th Century the trend moved towards white gold and platinum, often studded with diamonds and pearls to create delicate pendants, floral garlands or striking crescents. Amazing Art Deco – Pieces of this period are instantly recognisable with their streamlined or geometric forms. Show and sophistication were key with large bright diamonds highlighted with rubies or emeralds… think style, glamour and of course Hollywood! Forties Florals – From the Forties through to the early Sixties, floral forms became the key accent in ladies’ jewellery with large sprays of stone set flowers. Rings also developed on from the Art Deco style with large dressy cocktail rings in bright gold with dramatic settings of mixed stones. While periods are key to some collectors others prefer to concentrate on theme. If you love nature you can soon assemble a stunning collection of jewelled flowers, birds or butterflies. For those with a romantic nature, jewellery featuring hearts and bows (symbolic of love and marriage) are found throughout nearly all eras. You could also plump for a certain technique such as enamelled jewellery or the classic cameo. Birthstones are also key to many as they create a direct link between the piece and the owner. So, as you think about Christmas gifts, why not invest in a little gem from history? Just take a look at what can be found outside your usual comfort zone.

Nick Davies is co-founder of Fieldings ( who hold free valuation days at Mill Race Lane, Stourbridge DY8 1IJN.