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I’ve never really been a Tiffany sort of girl – waiting patiently for my one true love to give me diamond solitaires and bland little metal hearts. I buy my own jewellery, and I prefer things with a bit more age and character, handcrafted with care, not stamped out of a machine.

It’s a tough contest, but I think my favourite era for jewellery is the early 20th Century. There are two competing styles from that period, and try as I might, I can’t decide which is the most beautiful. In the blue corner is the classically inspired garland style – the advent of platinum jewellery (much stronger than gold) led the way to a much lighter and airier style. Garland jewellery is classically Edwardian – symmetrical, graceful and refined. The peridot pendant on the right below is a lovely example – the two pendants together are up for auction on the 15th of March, with an estimate of £70-£100.
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In the red corner is the Art Nouveau style – inspired by medieval craftsmen and the orient. It tends to be asymmetrical, heavily inspired by nature – all elegant whiplash curves – and handcrafted from much more offbeat materials. The brooch below is a good example, made by Liberty and Co. from silver, enamel and mother of pearl, it has been a bit bashed over the years but it still looks lovely. It’s up for auction on the 12th of March with an estimate of £60-90.
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Luckily for me, a lot of jewellery designers drew inspiration from both styles – these next two examples are light, symmetrical and made of conventional gemstones, but you can see the rebellious art nouveau influence in their whiplash curves…
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These are both coming up in an auction on the 15th. The lovely amethyst pendant is estimated at £300-£400, while the diamond and pearl one is up for £700-£900. I do wonder if the diamonds are set in low grade platinum – it was cheaper than gold at the time, and usually not hallmarked.

Images kindly provided by Fellows & Sons.

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