Who is Georgina, and what’s in her jewellery box? Unfortunately, Georgina is just a figment of my imagination. I created Georgina for my tiny jewellery collection, to give my beloved pieces a hint of provenance, and Georgina’s been helping me figuring out the scope of this project: basically, I will write about anything and everything that could have found its way into Georgina’s jewellery box.

Georgina was born in 1852 to James, a successful merchant who dealt in luxury goods, and Mary, a housewife and doting mother. Being comfortably middle class with money to spend and people to impress, her family made sure she had access to nice things, including jewellery. Georgina would spend most of her life in London, but she never married and had no children of her own. When she passed in 1927, her jewellery box was passed on to her nephew, Thomas. Unfortunately, Thomas didn’t appreciate the box of wonders, spanning pieces of late Georgian and early Victorian jewellery Georgina had inherited from her mother and grandmothers, to mid to late Victorian, Art Nouveau and Edwardian pieces she’d picked out for herself. Georgina’s collection was soon spread all over England, with some pieces finding their way to continental Europe and the US.

Georgina’s jewellery box contained fashionable rings, pendants, necklaces and earrings available to those who had money to spend on luxury items, but she could only dream of the opulence of the aristocracy and royal family. Sure, she had some 18 karat gold, but 9 and 15 were more familiar to her. There were some diamonds and rubies, but way more split pearls and garnets. Furthermore, while she had access to European jewellery inspired by foreign lands, she had no access to or knowledge of anything that didn’t find its way into the British market. The British Empire may have borrowed (or stolen) inspiration from all over the globe, but she didn’t have access to the real deal. Egyptian revival was part of her world, actual Egyptian jewellery was not.

With this project centered around Georgina, I hope to make my mission more easily understandable. There was a lot of jewellery available in 1900 that won’t be described here. I will not write about the Norwegian sølje (a traditional brooch, usually made from silver) or the jewellers of czarist Russia. Neither will I go into detail about trends in France or Spain. Sure, we may pop over the channel and bring back something nice for Georgina, but the focus is on Britain. Granted, this may come off as both eurocentric, limiting, and an exercise in navel-gazing, but as I was told an inordinate number of times while in school: every project needs to have limits and structure. Oh, and I’m not really gazing at my own navel, so there’s that.

Why “Georgina”?

I could have used pretty much any name used in England at the time, but Georgina really spoke to me. Had I been born a boy, my mother would have named me Jørgen after her paternal grandfather, and Jørgen is the Norwegian version of George. Thus, Georgina and I are “related”, name-wise. Kind of neat, isn’t it?

Who’s writing about Georgina?

Hello there! My name is Renate, I live in Norway and I have a life-long love of jewellery. While my MA is in literature studies, I have also studied some history, and had I known that one could actually study dress or jewellery history when I was a student, I’d probably continued taking history classes.

Unfortunately, my 19th century ancestors had no access to the luxury and splendour enjoyed by Georgina and her real-life counterparts, and there was no jewellery to be passed down through the generations. I treasure the pieces of antique jewellery I have, and I would love to have an extensive collection. Unfortunately, going on a massive shopping spree is not really feasible, and so my collection stays small and fairly unimpressive. While I have no formal training in the subject, I devour any and all information I have access to. The information on these pages are based on established facts, original sources and my own experience. When possible, I make sure to provide sources. I also recommend that you check out the Resources page for book recommendations, links to online sources, and antique dealers I have great experiences with. My goal is for Georgina’s Jewellery to be a great source for jewellery collectors and enthusiasts alike, tying together links to valuable resources, shopping tips, information about gemstones, style movements and goldsmiths, while also addressing some of the issues with sites like ebay and etsy, and helping you avoid buyer’s remorse.

If you have topic suggestions, corrections or for some other reason would like to reach out, you’re more than welcome to do so, either through the comments section or through the contact form which can be found here.