Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Georgian Girandole Earrings

A Girandole is a type of earring that was common in the Georgian era, particularly in the 18th Century.  You may be more familiar with the term as it is used with candlesticks, candelabras, sconces, and chandeliers.  In those cases, it is a grouping of three candlesticks which are often ornamented with dangly bits and other decorative features.  They tend to be quite elaborate and heavily Rococo-inspired, but the style also carried over to the more austere Federal style.

But in my world, a Girandole refers to an earring (or brooch, or pendant) which features three dangling jewels hanging off a central piece.

I've been lately obsessed with this style ever since Kendra of Demode posted a picture of a pair of earrings that are in the collections of Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.  These magnificent earrings feature removable stones in both rose pink and aquamarine blue, so that you can switch out the colors to coordinate with your outfit.  Y'all, those people back then were smart.   I won't steal the picture from Kendra, so head on over to flicker and take a looky loo!  Here's the picture from the museum, though you don't get a good sense of what they look like when put together:

Photo courtesy of the Nordiska Museet, who graciously has their images under Creative Commons!  Woo hoo!  Item is dated 1750-1799.  

I quickly started looking for other examples of these earrings and found several gorgeous examples (click pictures to link to source): 

Paste Opal Girandoles circa 1760 at the Victoria and Albert Museum

Emerald Paste Girandoles circa 1770-1780 

Diamond Girandoles circa 1800 via The Glorious Collection

You also see the style used in other ways, like this harlequin brooch:

Harlequin Brooch circa 1790

And occasionally they even make their way into parures, like this Amethyst set from Live Auctioneers:

Amethyst Parure circa 1840

I find this style to be so elegant and eye-catching!  One thing you notice about the extant earrings is that they are very fancy, with the chandelier piece often encrusted with diamonds or paste jewels.  I'm trying to find some high-quality rhinestone chandelier pieces to my jewelry, but to test out the style I've got a few pieces that are more basic.  

The above earrings (if they are still available!) are listed in my Etsy shop in the "Georgian Earrings" section.  I hope to add more styles soon!

A few of these also have coordinating collet necklaces available as well, so check those out if you are looking for a full set!

And if you would like to see a lot more original examples, I have quite a few on my Georgian-Era Jewelry Pinterest Board!


  1. very nice information! I like the look of the oval more than I do the square cut...seems to flow better...and you KNOW I'll be getting a set of these from you! <3

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