Edward VII ascended the throne at the age of 56, following the death of his mother, Queen Victoria, in 1901. It was a time of prosperity, with tremendous strides being made in craft and manufacturing which would influence fashion, jewelry, and all the arts. This influence can be seen in Edwardian period jewelry in the dramatic progress made in gemstone cutting, and the extensive use of platinum, which revolutionized jewelry design. The pear shape gemstone enhanced Edwardian jewelry themes, and the strength of platinum allowed for the creation of invisible settings in which very little metal was required - resulting in thin and lightweight pieces which were as much a marvel of engineering as design. These techniques gave rise to designs which complimented the lightness and femininity of period fashions. Platinum was the perfect metal to produce open work designs and scalloped edges, and the extensive use of filigree and diamonds mimicked the color and form of the delicate laces and feathers which were so favored during this time.
This era saw the birth of the automobile and movie industry, and the world entered the age of flight. As travel became less difficult, new and exotic influences began to appear in jewelry of the era as well. While on tour in India, Queen Alexandra, wife of Kind Edward VII, was delighted by the jewelry worn by the Indian princesses. Soon after, these striking styles began to appear in Alexandras own collection, including sautoirs (long ropes of chain or pearls ending in tassels), and diamond aigrettes (feathers worn as hair ornaments). Alexandras influence can also be seen in the use of her favorite stone, amethyst - providing a brilliant contrast the widely used palettes of white-on-white and soft pastels.
Neo-classical and Rococo influences abound in Edwardian jewelry as well, characterized by garland, wreath, flower and swag design motifs. The Victorian bow gained new life in the Edwardian era, produced in fine mesh to resemble the delicate fabrics of current fashion. Platinum was the perfect medium to produce pendants, brooches and rings in more delicate styles as well.
The style and craftsmanship of the Edwardian period would prove to be short lived, coming to an abrupt end with the onset of World War I.