The introduction of Synthetic jewelry

Beginning in the eighteenth century, continuing into the nineteenth, the bourgeoisie initiated the creation of jewelry corresponding to their tastes and means. To fill this need, jewelers used many methods to produce ornaments similar in style to those worn by the most fashionable members of society. Foiling was one of the first innovations in this area. The piece of foil was placed behind a less expensive stone to enhance its sparkle. This was a short-lived practice that served its purpose well.

Synthetic stones were an essential part of this category. These first appeared on the market around 1880. The synthetic ruby was the introductory stone and at the time was considered a great scientific achievement. Cultured pearls were first patented in 1896 to help fill this void. These new essential pearls were first produced by Mikimoto, a Japanese noodle maker.

Even in this field, France led the way. During the revolution much of the best jewelry was brought into hiding. Coldness and formality of design was obvious, with a great lack of gold and stones for the purpose of ornament. The only stones used were inexpensive ones of moss-agates and pebbles and their mountings were in low-grade gold. One replacement for gold was developed by Pinchbeck. He invented an alloy of copper and zinc, similar in color to gold and now known for its developer as Pinchbeck.

Experimenters in the making of glass gems became more numerous. The making of counterfeit jewelry became so flourishing that in 1767, the trade was incorporated as the joailliers-faussetiers of Paris. Development of beads and fake jewelry became a boon to the businessman in trade, which was a great impetus in the expansion of their making. Warehouses were kept in England just for beads and every year France exported beads of glass by the ton.


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