By Danielle Oliva Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Just what is a lavaliere (also spelled, “lavalier”)?
If you are fortunate to have a jewelry box passed down from Edwardian times (1901-1910), you probably own at least one of these antique, delicate beauties. They first came into vogue during this period. But the popularity of the lavaliere lasted through World War I time frame and well into the 1920s.
Lavalieres (pronounced [lav-uh-leers]) are delicate, filigree, jeweled pendants with a single dangle. The dangle is usually an elongated freshwater pearl or an art glass imitation of such a pearl. To get an idea of proportion, a lavaliere is about as long as a common house key from top of the bale to the bottom of the dangle, and about as wide as a dime at the widest point.
During Edwardian times, women cast off the burdensome, full dresses with their layers and layers of heavy fabrics that were so popular in Victorian Society.
The new style was much lighter and streamlined. Straight draped dresses in wispy fabrics that clung to the feminine figure replaced the previous bulky styles that mostly hid a women’s shape.
(See the photos below of an Edwardian lady wearing a lavalier and a typical, wispy dress of the period.)
This lighter style of dress called for dainty jewelry. The large pendants and lockets of Victorian times looked out of balance with these lightweight dresses. But the delicate lavaliere was the perfect accent.
Lavalieres were normally made of gold (10K was very common) or gold plated. These lightweight, filigree pendants were typically decorated with seed pearls, freshwater pearl dangles, and precious gems or glass imitations. Popular gems for lavalieres included rubies, opals, amethyst and emeralds.
Do you have a lavaliere passed down through generations of your family? If so, tell us about it in the comments section. And be sure to sign up for this blog if you love antique and vintage jewelry!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box AntiqueUS on Etsy. She is currently working on jewelry identification courses. When she is not working and writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to advertise on her website or blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for her media kit and more information.
About This Blog:
The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!
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