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March 21, 2023
Today is the first day of spring (if I could, I’d be doing cartwheels), and even though we will likely still have some winter weather—spring is here! Our robins and doves have returned and their nests and eggs won’t be far behind. In my neck of the woods (Ontario, Canada), the change from winter to spring is my most welcomed season change.
Aside from creating my jewellery and accessories, gardening is another passion of mine. Over the past few years, I have turned most of my yard into gardens. I love sitting and soaking up the beauty of the flowers and noticing all the subtle changes that happen from day to day. It’s my welcome sanctuary and so relaxing, but I won’t pretend that it doesn’t happen without a lot of work-it’s definitely a labour of love.
You may have noticed that the flowers, birds and other winged beauties have found their way into my jewellery, and inspired many of my creations. Spending most of my winter indoors; working with metal and gemstone blooms and wings seems like the next best thing.
Floral motifs have been used in jewellery designs for centuries. As a living thing their beauty is short-lived, so what better way than to recreate their everlasting beauty in the form of rings, pendants, earrings and brooches.
In the early 1800’s, Madame Charlotte de la Tour published a book considered to be the first dictionary of floral meanings, Le Language des Fleurs. It was thought to be inspired by selam, a Turkish custom of communicating through flowers and other items. Various types of flowers were assigned specific meanings and became symbols of different emotions. These symbols then extended to jewellery designs that incorporated these flowers to signify their unspoken sentiments in their floral motifs. Flowers of all types have remained a popular theme in all varieties of jewellery.
Each of the classic jewellery eras have had their own floral motifs that were considered to be the fashion of their time. The Georgian period favoured floral ring motifs in both silver and gold. The floral designs were cruder in their appearance than latter periods, such as the Victorian era.
Victorian period jewellery favoured more realistic and detailed designs, and this era became known as the romantic period. The popularity of floral and foliage designs continued to grow, no doubt related to the secret messages of love expressed by the different kinds of flowers used in the jewellery.
Queen Victoria had enormous influence on the styles of this era. Mourning jewellery became very popular following the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Black jewellery became the fashion and the floral designs used during this time reflected this change. Willow and forget-me-nots were commonly used in mourning jewellery.
Birds were also popular during the late Victorian era with swallows and doves being the most common motifs. Swallows, who mate for life, were a particular favourite with lovers of the era. Doves were associated with hope, peace and faith and normally depicted with an olive branch in their beak. Butterflies and dragonflies were also embraced by the Victorians and symbolized their readiness for a new future regardless of what it held in store for them.
Some of the most artistic floral jewellery comes from the Art Nouveau period. Due to innovations in the creation and design of jewellery, the meticulous detail and workmanship created jewellery that included silver, gold, gemstones, beautiful enamelled designs and stunning settings. Art Nouveau reinvigorated the popularity of floral designs in jewellery and introduced new floral motifs including water lilies, poppies and fuchsias. The designs were more colourful, fluid and feminine
Following the death of Queen Victoria, the Edwardian era jewellery became lighter, with a graceful sophistication. The favoured floral designs were flower garlands and laurel wreaths.
The Art Deco era saw another significant change in the style of jewellery, favouring a more geometric, masculine and symmetrical design. Floral motifs of the era were created in geometric forms using coloured gemstones.
Although the styles and designs of floral jewellery have evolved over the centuries, I’m certain they’ll remain a popular choice in jewellery design. Always a favourite, we probably all have at least one piece of floral jewellery in our collections…I know I do!
I would never be able to select any one era as being my favorite. I absolutely love collecting and creating jewellery using antique and vintage components from all of the eras. The workmanship, design and detail are gorgeous, each like a beautiful work of art.
You will likely see many of these influences in my jewellery, and I definitely have a soft spot for floral motifs in my work. They are so romantic and feminine, and in many of my pieces they serve as my muse. My Wings and Blooms Collection is available on the shop site now and includes necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. I’m hoping to add some brooches, cloches and bridal pieces this summer, so stay tuned!
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