Happy Christmas Eve Lillicoco readers! Whether you have spent your day purchasing the last few bits and bobs for your Christmas gifts, or you have indulged in making golden-crusted mince pies and lathering layers upon layers of gooey chocolate icing onto a yule log, without a doubt we can imagine that you are wholeheartedly excited and overflowing with Christmas spirit, ready for tomorrow.
Lest not forget the original Christmas story, and although we are sure you all still remember this ancient tale of pilgrimage and merriment, there is one particular part of the birth of Jesus that has sparked our interest - The North Star. Known as Polaris, the north star is known as the brightest star in the sky and in actual fact is the star that is the closest to the north celestial pole - hence its significance. Wherever you follow and lead, Polaris will always indicate the north direction, helping weary travellers, like the wise men, to the town of Bethlehem and baby Jesus in the manger.
Although many scientists and theologians have discrepancies over whether the star of Bethlehem was in fact the north star, the star of the east, or if the star indeed did exist at all. Nonetheless, the north star and the star of Bethlehem do have parallels, both being incredibly bright, aiding direction and perfectly placed, holding still within the sky as the entire heavens moves around it - as if placed and held by the hand of God himself. In fact, especially if you are religious, it is not unreasonable to think that such a momentous event like Jesus’s birth would have aligned the night sky itself.
Whether you are religious or not, the stars have enthralled people for centuries, birthing both the art of astrology and the science of astronomy. The stars have accrued a multitude of romantic and mythological meanings too, giving comfort to many who feel at a loss. These beautiful associations have trickled their way down from myth to the maker, embroidered by gold and silver thread into clothes, flourished upon the tip of brushes to oil canvases and also been gilded and shaped into stunning pieces of jewellery. With this in mind, read on for our picks and the history of celestial pieces in jewellery throughout the ages - some insightful reading to settle down with a cup of Bailey’s hot chocolate on Christmas eve!
History of Celestial Jewellery
Jewellery and celestial motifs have had a long and closely-tied relationship. The sharp twinkling of stars, cutting across the navy velvet sky, can be easily reimagined through Silver, Platinum, Gold, Diamonds, Paste and Rock Crystal. Jewellery, like the stars, planets and constellations appear dainty and easily broken, when in fact they are strong, momentous and incredible to behold.
Jewellery and the stars also have had romantic associations deeply imbued within their creation. Philosophers, writers, thinkers and artists, detail astrology as being equitable to the great emotions of love. The night sky is not tangible, much like love itself. Jewellery and love too have a deeply intertwined relationship, being created and gifted as a homage to a lover. It wouldn’t be surprising, therefore, that cosmic jewellery has been popular from the Roman period to today.
Broadly speaking, celestial jewellery has been interpreted as the following meanings:
- New beginnings
- Foreshadowing and fate
- Mythos and mystery
Throughout history, gemstones have been imbued to possess magical and mysterious powers, believed that to charge gemstones you have to relish the power of the night sky itself, charging them underneath a full moon’s powerful gaze. With this in mind, many gemstones have therefore been rightfully used to resemble these powerful entities of the moon and stars. These include Moonstones, Opals, Pearls, Diamonds, Sapphires and more.
Georgian Celestial Jewellery
At the beginning of the Georgian period, the Diamond has just received it’s greatest inauguration - the brilliant-cut. What resulted was a plethora of Diamonds being used in Georgian jewellery, beautifully capturing the twinkling stars. Another popular gemstone that originated during the Georgian period was paste gems. Paste was a well-cut glass that mimicked the facet, twinkles and incandescent glow of other famous gemstones yet it was initially far more affordable to produce. However, this led to their fast increase in popularity as the gem du jour and as creating Paste gems was time-consuming this meant that they become inherently incredibly valuable too.
In comparison to other historical periods, astrological motifs were present but they were not as prevalent. Although, the Georgians did have a worldly interest in astronomy as only years before the work of Galileo and Sir Isaac Newton dramatically changed the way people thought. In fact, many people find that the Georgian period was a mixture between both romantic thought and also rational enlightenment. The stars peppered soliloquy and poetry, existing only in romantic gestures and actual science, but not in the form of astrology. An excerpt of John Keat’s ‘Bright Star’ Poem, written in 1819, is published below:
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
There were some major astrological discoveries during the Georgian period, including the prediction of Halley’s comet in 1758, the finding of the planet Uranus in 1781 and the precise calculation of distance between Mars and Jupiter in 1801 and 1802.
Below are a few of our picks of Georgian celestial jewellery that we currently have on our website:
'Bagues Au Firmament' Ring
A concept we are so excited to share with you are the 'bagues au firmament; rings. Popular with Marie Antoinette, bagues au firmament were called ‘Rings of the Heavens’, created to reminisce the night sky themselves. A collectors dream come true, we have obtained one of these precious rings into our collection which we will share with you very soon.
Victorian Celestial Jewellery
We are warning you now, but we have a cornucopia of Victorian celestial jewellery below. An incredibly popular motif, celestial jewellery was a sought after amongst patrons, commissioners and jewellery makers. This is due to the Victorian era having major advancements in industrialisation, trade, science and art, thus jewellery making was transformed.
One of the most significant astrological events were the sighting of Halley’s Comet, which led to a range of star-themed jewellery, from exploding starburst pendants to crescent brooches and shooting star stick pins. Not only was the heavens above fascinating astronomers, but interest in astrology also started to peak again. The Victorian era, albeit exciting and a catalyst for many progressive changes, there was still plenty of suspicion surrounding religion, and also the mortality rate amongst young and old was still extremely high.
With this in mind, many people sought for answers, and astrology was the comfort blanket that many needed. Zodiac columns in newspapers started to appear, detailing predictions about how a person’s life could be mapped out due to the time and month they were born. Fascinating Victorians of all ages, this renewed the spiritual rather than scientific interest in the stars above.
It therefore may come as no surprise to you that we have an abundance of Victorian celestial jewellery on our website. Below are our favourite picks.
Art Nouveau Celestial Jewellery
Perhaps interpreted less literally than centuries past, celestial motifs were widely incorporated into Art Nouveau jewel designs. Traversing the late Victorian and Edwardian period, celestial motifs were combined with other pieces of the Art Nouveau aesthetic. Whether it would be women dancing on the moon, or wearing wings studded with stars, Art Nouveau creations leant towards the romanticism of moons and stars, equating them with feminine symbols. Mythology and nature were fiercely intertwined in Art Nouveau jewellery, and what was more magical than the night sky above?
Astrology boomed during the Art Nouveau movement, as displayed through this famous creation by Alphonse Mucha where a crown of Zodiac signs enshroud this beautiful women’s head.
Edwardian Celestial Jewellery
Edwardian jewellery were known for their bountiful elegance and grace, creating beautiful lavalier pendants and daintier styles of jewellery, rather than the chunky substantial shapes of the Victorian era. Here, celestial motifs can be interpreted more metaphorically than as literal as the Georgian and Victorian era. For example, Diamonds were placed in the centre of lockets and stick pins, then delicate hand-engravings shaped these into twinkling stars and planets.
Art Deco Celestial Jewellery
An undeniably glamorous era, the Art Deco period flourished with sparkle at the forefront. Jewellery styles changed dramatically, incorporating architectural and geometric aesthetic throughout their designs. Due to this, celestial jewellery became even more abstract. Enamel, Jet, Diamonds, Emeralds, Rubies and Sapphires were used in abundance in Art Deco designs. Stars, moons, planets and suns still were rich in romantic and glamorous symbolism, meaning that they were widely incorporated into fashion, art and the rise of graphic illustration.
We hope you have loved learning about celestial jewellery as much as we have, as well as seeing how these gorgeous periods loved and interpreted this theme.
From all of us here at Lillicoco, we hope you have a simply amazing sparkling Christmas!