On April 15th, 1912 the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Her passengers included some of the wealthiest people in the world hoping to enjoy the maiden voyage of this historically significant luxury liner. 2224 people were on board when she left the shores of Southampton, England in route for New York City. 1514 people never made it home.
The wreck of the Titanic rested on the floor of the ocean for 73 years. In 1985, thousands of artifacts were salvaged and became the subject of many museum displays, books, films and exhibits. As you might imagine, the wealthy passengers brought significant jewelry on board with them. The style of this jewelry would have been a mix of Victorian jewelry (normally defined as the period from 1837 to 1901) and Edwardian jewelry (circa 1901 to 1915).
The Victorian jewelry would commonly be made in yellow gold and fairly ornate in style. The Edwardian jewelry is most commonly focuses on diamonds due to the growth of diamond mining operations in Kimberly, South Africa and the establishment of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd in 1888. Also, in the late 1800’s the technology involved in working with platinum advanced, allowing for platinum to grow in use and popularity. The Edwardian jewelry is strikingly different in style from its predecessor, the Victorian period.
I am positive the passengers on the Titanic’s maiden and only voyage showed off the highest fashions of 1912, including its focus on the feminine S-shape silhouette, ethereal lightness, and layers of delicate fabrics, lace and feathers. Pale pastels and monochromatic white-on-white were the dominant color schemes. The demand for jewelry styles as light and delicate as the clothing grew in popularity.
Common motifs in the Edwardian jewelry include garlands, bows, ribbons and tassels. The combination of pearls and diamonds also follows the white on white color scheme. The negligee pendant gained popularity. This style consisting of two drops of unequal length suspended from a central element. Indian styled jewelry became fashionable based on the travels of King Edward VII to India. Filigree styled jewelry began in this period and many of the modern day engagement rings vintage styles originate from this period.