A browse around our shop in Wareham will present you with over three hundred years of jewellery manufacture and design. From the simplest 17th century gold posey ring to the ornate scrolling forms of an Art Nouveau pendant, each piece of our stock is  little snippet of history waiting for you take it home and give it life again. Why not read on to find out a little more about the different eras of jewellery design Heirlooms offers for sale?


Victorian (1837-1901) – In this era of Industrialism and wealth, the role jewellery played was huge. Discoveries of the diamond mines in South Africa meant diamonds were the premier choice of jewel. Occasions to wear fine jewellery were abundant and the more extravagant the better! This period of jewellery design is characterised by fine golds such as 15ct and 18ct, carefully cut and facetted gemstones such as diamonds as well as richly coloured sapphires, rubies and emeralds which were more available due to improved connections with countries such as India and Sri Lanka. Jewellers were inspired by travel and learnt new ways of setting stones to enhance their colour and brilliance in exciting new styles. Motifs often included flowers, insects and Rococo-inspired scrolls.

Edwardian (1901-1910) – Wider availability of gemstones and the dawn of machine made settings, allowed jewellery to be more affordable and therefore accessible. 9ct yellow gold was a more economical choice and stones such as peridot, garnet and spinel were similarly coloured but cheaper alternatives to emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

Art Nouveau (1890-1910) – Characterised by organic, free flowing forms, often assymetrical in design and influenced by plant shapes or the female form. The loose, unpredictable designs were a stark contrast to the formal, traditional and solid creations characterised by the Victorian period.

Art Deco (c. 1920-1935) – Significant social changes taking place during the post-war 1920’s and 1930’s were quickly reflected in the jewellery designs of the day. Sharp edged geometric shapes combined with bright colours and the use of new materials such as resin, bakelite and semi precious stones such as lapis lazuli and onyx were revolutionary. At this time, jewellery was not just worn to demonstrate social status or wealth but was worn as an accessory, in new and exciting ways, giving women personal style and identity.