Monday, January 20, 2014

Edwardian Jewelry

History is a personal interest, pure and simple. But it isn’t my only interest – jewelry takes a close (and sometimes surpassing) second. Luckily for me, I have a job that revolves around jewelry. I work for a company that creates enthusiast products, and during my year and a half with the company have learned countless new techniques.

When my two passions converge, it is definitely a good day in my camp. Fortunately, my wonderful editors recently created a project eBook that pulls from the Downton Abbey period (Edwardian, WWI, and soon to be depression) to create inspired jewelry designs. Then, another editor decided to issue a challenge to create a fashionable necklace that fits the time period to feature on her blog. Since I super big fan of the show, and I was itching to create my own Edwardian trend, I decided to bust out my pliers and create my own necklace design.

But in true fashion, I also wanted to research the time period and see what history had to say about the jewelry during the Edwardian era. The Edwardian era got it’s name from the English King Edward VII who reigned from 1901-1910. I found it interesting to learn that this was the last period that was named after a British monarch.

Unlike Art Nouveau, Victorian, or the Arts and Craft movement, the design of Edwardian jewelry was understated, and very feminine in style. Almost overnight, jewelry went from being large and ornate to light and airy in design. Pearls, diamonds, gold, and other precious metals were favored in use.

But I learned that the hallmark of Edwardian jewelry was the use of platinum. Unlike before, this was one of the first times this metal was used widely, and the strength and durability of the metal allowed jewelers to create light, intricate designs with lace-like appearances. Circa 1910, the changing necklines that were fashionable left little room for brooches, giving way to necklace’s popularity. And as white became a more popular color in fashion, pearls gained popularity.

Earrings also had a special place during the Edwardian period. While they started the century as studs, longer light earrings began to be favored.

Honestly, I found a great website that details the styles and trends of jewelry during the Edwardian period, including rings, tiaras, and other hot jewelry styles in detail. If you want to learn more check it out!

I had so much fun researching the trends and being inspired to create my own lightweight necklace design. With pearls, sparkling crystals, and filigree flower, any stylish lady could wear the long necklace I created.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Man Behind the Plan

Before we begin our through WWI we need to understand the information that was behind the scenes. For a part of this year, I’ll be laying the foundation of understanding, hopefully through important dates. Incidentally, today is one such date: 101 anniversary of the German general Alfred von Schlieffen’s death. If you recognize the name, it is because it was his plan that was set in motion and started WWI.

But first, a little information about the man behind the plan: Schlieffen was born on February 28, 1833 to a Prussian noble family. It is said during his early life he showed no interest in joining the military, and instead went to school in Berlin to study law. It was after his mandatory one year of service that Schlieffen was chosen as an officer candidate, and thus began his long military career.

Schlieffen served in both the Seven Week’s War in 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Over time he was able to rise through the ranks of the Great General Staff (which was an elite corps of about 650 officers) before becoming its chief in 1891.

In the years since the Franco-Prussian War and the German alliance with Austrio-Hungary in 1879, Schlieffen’s predecessors had been working on a strategy to fight a future two-front war against France and Russia. When Schlieffen took over, he continued these efforts seeing such a two-front war as a distinct possibility. Schlieffen believed that Germany’s best bet was to engage France first, attacking through Belgium and Holland and enveloping western France before finally taking Paris.

Meanwhile, a smaller German force would hold off Russia in the east, since fully mobilizing the Russian army would take more time. This strategy came to be known as the Schlieffen plan.

Less than two years after Schlieffen’s death, the plan was put in motion by the German army. While I’m tempted to go into full detail about this now, I think it would make more sense to wait. Yes, it’s well known that the German’s plan did not work, and ultimately led to a stalemate that resulted in the 4-year trench war. But, I’m going to wait and give my full commentary later this year. So instead, today you’re left with the facts of the matter and the interesting beginning to our 2014.

Until next time, happy history all!