The Belle Epoque was a long period of peace and prosperity at the close of the nineteenth century until the declaration of World War I in 1914. This 'Beautiful Era', dedicated to delicate femininity, celebrated the most gracious and opulent living. Distinguished by the elegance and refinement that revived the French court splendor of Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, the age of the Belle Epoque flowered the most romantic and lavish jewels. Drawing inspiration from the eighteenth-century patterns and decorative arts, the jewelers of the age also took to the streets of Paris for their architectural detail. From these sources, the Belle Epoque jeweler's vocabulary was derived: of garlands and swags, of flower baskets and trellis work, of bow knots and ribbons, of tassels and wheat ears, of palmettes and honeysuckle, and neo-symmetrical shapes. During this period, the increasing use of finely milled platinum that was strong and malleable was successfully adapted to these lace-like designs while carrying the weight of many stones. And when seen under the blaze of gas and electric lighting, jewels appeared glittering white.
This necklace is a consummate example of this style, characterised by the monochromatic composition of diamonds set in an open pattern of platinum-topped gold swags and flowers, designed as a fabric-like lace of diamonds, which complemented the era's off-the-shoulder evening gowns.
IMPORTANT 20TH CENTURY JEWELS FROM A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTION
A BELLE EPOQUE DIAMOND NECKLACE
The front suspending an openwork old mine, old European and rose-cut diamond foliate plaque, the central flower blossom set at the center and corners with larger old European-cut diamonds, suspending three articulated old mine-cut diamond pendants, to the fine link backchain, mounted in platinum-topped gold, circa 1890, 15 ins.