History of Jewelry Part 5: Baroque|
Necklaces of the time were often of light openwork design and were set with many diamonds or colored stones but seldom with large pendants. Soon such necklaces gave way to the trend of multiple strings of pearls. If large pendants existed, they were often attached to a velvet band that encircled the throat. Some of these pendants were engraved gems, enameled portraits or miniature cases or lockets. Throughout the seventeenth century, elaborate ornamentation was applied not only to settings and to the face of gemstones, but to the back of jewels: engravings or small panels of painted enamels proved the craftsman to have been hard at work to leave no surface plain. Bracelets were styled similarly to the light openwork of necklaces and were sometimes strung intermittently with medallions.
Rings made throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are essentially the same, stylistically. Small designs were engraved into the sides and shoulders of rings and towards the end of the seventeenth century a love of flower designs formed of arrangements of colored stones was prevalent. Sometimes these patterns of flowers were made to cover the entire surface of the ring and sometimes the flowers encircled hollow centers. The center of such a ring would have been filled with the hair of a lover and rhyming mottos were occasionally engraved on them. These were probably used as engagement or wedding rings. Ordinary decorative rings of the period featured diamonds in prominent settings.
Girdles – so popular in the Renaissance – were still in vogue throughout Baroque Europe, and massive linked chains were de rigueur, strung over the waists of many fine ladies. From chains dangled elaborate pomanders, which were made of gold or silver and were often perforated and filled with perfumes so as to give off beautiful scents.
The watch as we know it today began in the Baroque period. From the early part of the seventeenth century, the watch took a round form with the more or less flat face. The forms were highly decorated, however, with enameled flowers in relief of various colors and kinds and small diamonds encrusted all over. The watch was hung by a chain to the woman’s girdle or from the fob-pocket of men along with a jeweled seal used like a signet ring.
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the style known as Rococo evolved from the Baroque. Rich fantastic scrolls and crimped shellwork was wrought into irregular forms – lyrical but inorganic, rich in decorative charm. Jewelry was less affected by this exaggerated style than other art forms, but there were certainly certain notable evolutions. The subject of shallow relief moved from dramatic scenes to more pastoral subjects representing friendship, and the primacy of precious stones, pearls, and diamonds in their settings was somehow increased. Late Rococo, halfway through the eighteenth century, became simpler especially after Madame de Pompadour became an influential figure in Paris. Also, when the city of Pompeii was discovered in 1755, artists from all over the world flooded into Italy and the mannerism of Rococo ornament faded from fashion with yet another classical revival on the rise.