7 Gilded Age Jewelry Projects Inspired By The Hit Series

The Gilded Age just finished a sumptuous first season. We got to witness some breathtaking jewelry and gorgeous fashion. Did you catch the series? It is never too late to binge watch, all episodes are now available on HBO. The show features some elegant jewelry statements from designer Temple St. Clair. Temple took some artistic liberties when creating the jewelry for the show. Her jewelry may not accurately represent the time period, but it conveys the wealth and fashion of the time perfectly. Today, we are going to look at projects that you can make at home that is as stunning as a Gilded Age necklace. Read on and learn about the Gilded Age of American history and get inspired to make some gorgeous jewelry.

Current Sale

The Gilded Age is the latest show from Julian Fellowes. Julian is the creator and writer of Downton Abbey. The Gilded Age is a return to the fashion and elegant jewelry of the uber wealthy. But this time, he wrote a series that takes place in the era of massive economic growth in the United States, following the Civil War. The jewelry featured is a little renegade. It does not follow the rules. Temple St. Clair, the designer, uses design styles that would not have existed during the period - but, they are a great representative of the forward thinking and passion for jewelry that the wealthy would have gravitated toward. Today, we want to share our own thoughts on how to create jewelry that evokes the decadence of the Gilded Age but does not require a million bucks to create. Let's make some jewelry that would get us invited into a high society event!

Shop our stunning CZs

Shop our stunning CZs

Shop our stunning CZs

We think our CZs are a great bead for Gilded Age jewelry. Our colorful briolette and other rich CZs would like right at home on Bertha Russell's neck. Actress Carrie Coon portrays a woman with a nearly endless access to money and can afford the most expensive jewelry. Want to make elegant designs at a fraction of the cost you would pay for high end gemstones? Check out our selection of CZs. We have a spectrum of colors that are ideal for making gallery quality jewelry on a budget.

Cubic Zirconia (known commonly as CZ) is a hard, optically flawless, diamond simulation. While it is extremely rare in nature, it is widely synthesized for use as an artificial diamond. In the beading industry, CZs are cut in many different shapes and colors. They can be used as a cost effective replacement for high end gemstones. A crystal clear strand of London blue topaz may not be in your future, but a crystal clear strand of CZs in a similar color might be just the ticket for creating a design that is more in your price bracket. They add sparkle and color to any and all designs.

Due to variances in dye lots, colors may vary slightly from strand to strand. Please order enough strands to meet your needs for a specific project. We will do our very best to send you strands that match closely in color. If you need to reorder later, the color may be slightly different.

"These beautiful CZ beads from the folks at Soft Flex Company have simply captured my heart and set my design creativity on fire. I can hardly wait to work with them !" -Paula S. Morgan, About.com Guide to Beadwork

The Gilded Age Of American Jewelry

What Is The Gilded Age Show About?

The Gilded Age is a show written by Julian Fellowes. Julian was the writer and creator of Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey introduced us to the aristocrats in Yorkshire. The Gilded Age takes us to New York in the late nineteenth century. We follow Bertha Russell as she climbs the social ladder in high society Manhattan. Bertha's husband is a tycoon in the railroad empire and she has all the money she needs to buy the most opulent gowns and gems. She bumps elbows with the elite, like the Astor family. This show is about the high drama of the era. We see the clash of old money versus new during a period of explosive industrial growth in the United States. The show is also a magnificent spectacle of exquisite costume dress and elegant jewelry. Of course, we are watching because we love the stunning necklaces and earrings featured during each episode. But the wonderful writing is also part of the fun!

What Was The Gilded Age?

The Gilded Age was a time of record expansion and industrialization, in American history, post Civil War. The era of the Gilded Age is considered to span from 1870 to 1900 (the show takes place around the 1880s). During this era, the telegraph gave the west and east coast rapid communication. Railways allowed for speedy and efficient transportation. Fertile fields meant that agriculture saw booming gains. Migration saw some of the largest numbers in recorded history. Industry brought explosive urban development and buildings reached for the heavens as skyscrapers. Mark Twain's novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, was responsible for the name given to the era. It was a powerful time of prosperity. But the golden facade of wealth also hid an undercurrent of corruption and inequality. Julian Fellowes said that he wanted to convey this gilded facade in his show, but in a less cynical manner than Mark Twain had in his book.

The Gilded Age Show Is Breaking The Rules

Bubbly Necklace

The Gilded Age just ended the nine episode run of it's first season. Were you watching? If you missed it, it is available to binge watch on HBO now. There was some absolutely gorgeous jewelry on display. Downton Abbey featured mostly costume jewelry, but The Gilded Age showed us real gemstones and artisan craft. Temple St. Clair designed the elegant and eye catching designs for this series. Moonstones are part of the story in this show. Temple has said that moonstones are symbols of the past, present, and future. She feels this stone represents actress Carrie Coon's character Bertha Russell. Bertha is making bold moves forward in the elite social circles. She wears vivid color dresses and daring jewelry statements. Bertha needed a stone that encapsulated her ambitious and powerful persona. Intricate gold designs are also a part of the series and command attention.

A criticism of the show is that the jewelry is anachronistic, meaning that the jewelry belongs to a different time period and is not a truthful representative of the jewelry worn during this era. On the other hand, praise is also given to the show for taking an artistic license using this jewelry as it is indicative of the forward thinking in jewelry fashion that the uber wealthy would have enjoyed. We think that the jewelry design was spot on. A story teller should be allowed to tell their story, even if it requires a little white lie here and there. We also think this provides a wonderful opportunity to create your own jewelry in the style of The Gilded Age.

7 Gilded Age Jewelry Projects Inspired By The Hit Series

We think a show like this is amazing for jewelry making inspiration. You can take elements from the jewelry you see on the show and make your own unique pieces in the style of the Gilded Age. Some of the ideas the show has given us are wire wrapped stones, gold patterns that drape like textile, drop earrings, diamond necklaces, art deco style, and more. The show is very forgiving with the timeline the jewelry would have actually been worn. Hollywood loves an artistic license - if it means making compelling stories. In this case, the jewelry becomes a sort of minor character. The jewelry on the show tells a story that period jewelry may have not been able to convey as it would have been much more subtle.

Let's take some liberties and make our own Gilded Age jewelry. Let's celebrate with briolette beads and gold. Let's learn how to wire wrap a gemstone and make any necklace look much more decadent and expensive. Learn how to use beading wire to wrap beads so they lay soft and silky on the neck. Learn how to make wire worked drop earrings and dangles. Let's celebrate the Gilded Age with crystal and classic jewelry styles!

Lunar New Year Pip Bead Necklace

Kristen designed an amazing necklace during an episode of Free Spirit Beading. She used our Lunar New Year Design Kit (Sold Out) to make a necklace that is as radiant as a firework blast. Pip beads and an Antique Gold Plated Butterfly Link give this design a timeless and amazing look.

Jewelry Making Supplies:

Soft Flex Beading Wire .019 Diameter in White Quartz color
Lunar New Year Design Kit
7x5mm Assorted Color Czech Glass Pip Beads
2x2mm Crimp Tubes
Crimping Pliers
Cutters

Lunar New Year Pip Bead Necklace by Kristen Fagan

Antique Gold Plated Butterfly Earrings

Check out our Instagram Reels!

These Antique Gold Plated Butterfly Link Connectors from TierraCast are amazing! You can connect one to three strands, but they can make a great stand alone charm too! Here’s a fast and fun earring using the connector, tassels from the Butterfly Garden Bead Mix and simple ear wires.

Click here to view our Instagram Reel and learn how to make these earrings in less than a minute.

Antique Gold Plated Butterfly Link

Antique Gold Plated Butterfly Link

Antique Gold Plated Butterfly Link

This stunning butterfly link is the perfect jewelry element for understated elegance. It has a bold antique gold finish that is an ideal neutral accent or centerpiece. You can use this piece as a connector or get inventive. We have used it for earrings and focal pieces. Make your next jewelry design stunning with this beautiful butterfly. Use it for a spring theme or regale jewelry admirers with your own interpretation of the Gilded Age.

If you bought our Purple Petals Design Kit, you are probably already in love with this gorgeous Butterfly Link. The kit came with an Antique Brass version. This is a brighter gold alternative. This beautiful butterfly link is from the TierraCast Jade Collection - Chinese legend has it that the Butterfly symbolizes the bond between lovers, especially young lovers. Butterflies are commonly shown seeking flowers, symbolizing a young person’s quest for love and romance. This multi-strand connector can also be used as a charm.

Since 1978, TierraCast has been making high-quality, lead-free cast beads, findings and components in Santa Rosa, California, USA.

Wire Knit Bezel Using Soft Flex Craft Wire

James Browning is Soft Flex Company's resident craft wire expert. This video will show you how to wire wrap a stone. Learn how to set a cabochon with Soft Flex Craft Wire. This technique is similar to the techniques used in creating Viking Knit jewelry. Wire wrapping a stone gives it character and an artisan look. This is a great way to add a Gilded Age quality to a boring bead. Add your own signature wrap to a stone and it will look like you found it at a high end retailer.

Jewelry Making Supplies:

18g Soft Flex Craft Wire
26g Soft Flex Craft Wire
Nylon Jaw Pliers
Bead Nippers (Cutters)
Chain Nose Pliers (or similar pliers)
LoopRite Looping Pliers or Round Nose Pliers

Soft Flex Craft Wire Cage Weave by James Browning

This is an intermediate level tutorial and is advised to be attempted after you have worked with craft wire for a little bit and are comfortable. James will show you how to create a backing for the stone, start the weave and even show you how to create a bail using a wire wrap.

Soft Flex Craft Wire Cage Weave by James Browning

Soft Flex Craft Wire

Shop Craft Wire!

Shop Craft Wire!

Soft Flex Craft Wire is a high quality, permanently colored copper wire. It is resistant to scratching, peeling and marring. This is due to the special enameling process used to coat the wire to produce the wide spectrum of colors we offer. After the enamel is applied, the wire is then clear coated to prevent tarnishing. Bare Copper is the only wire in the line that is not treated. If antiques and old findings are your medium, Bare Copper will patina - perfect for making that new project look like an heirloom. Add a skeleton key to a bare copper wire for an instant vintage focal with your own signature wire wrap.

Loop d' Loop Choker

Loop d' Loop Choker Finished

Designer Martina Valdivia
Skill Level Intermediate

Materials
24K Gold Plated Extreme Beading Wire .019 diameter - 100" 
2x2mm Gold Filled Crimp Tubes - 4 pcs 
Gold Filled 2 Strand  Clasp - 1 set
5-7mm  Czech Glass Beads - 64 pcs

Tools
Crimping Pliers
Cutters 

Instructions

Lovely Loop d' Loop Choker

Step 1: Cut two 50" pieces of wire.

Step 2: Use one wire to string 1 crimp tube and the first loop of one half of the clasp. Pass back through the tube and crimp.  Click here for crimping instructions. Repeat to attach the second wire to the second loop of the same half of the clasp.

Step 3: Use the first wire to string 1 bead. Use the second wire to form a loop around the bead by crossing over the first wire below the bead, under the first wire above the bead, then parallel to the first wire. Repeat entire step, stringing the bead on the second wire and using the first wire to form the loop.

Step 4: Repeat Step 3 thirty-one times.

Loop d' Loop Choker Detail

Step 5: Use one wire to string 1 crimp tube and one loop of the second half of the clasp. Pass back through the tube and crimp. Repeat with the other wire and the other loop of the clasp.

Extreme Soft Flex Beading Wire

Buy Extreme Flex Beading Wire!

Buy Extreme Flex Beading Wire!

Soft Flex Extreme Wire is the world's first eco-friendly beading wire.

Soft Flex Extreme Wire is a beading wire, free of heavy metals, for designers that want to add sparkle and shine to a piece that exposes the wire. Soft Flex Extreme Wire will not tarnish and is great for free floating necklaces and pendants. Soft Flex Extreme Wire is constructed of 1x19 micro woven metal alloy wires. It is supple enough that it can be knotted. It is available in 3 diameters: .014, .019, and .024. We recommend Soft Flex Extreme Wire for designers that want to be 'green' and desire a high quality wire for high end jewelry.

Wire Wrapped Quartz Dangles

Wire Wrapped Quartz Dangle Earrings by Shelley Richey

Designer Shelley Richey
Skill Level Intermediate

Materials
Silver Plated Ear Wires - 1 pair 
22 gauge Non-Tarnish Silver Soft Flex Craft Wire - 7" 
3mm Sterling Silver Round Beads - 4 pcs 
6mm Clear  Quartz Faceted Round Beads - 2 pcs
12x10x4mm Clear  Quartz Faceted Teardrop Beads - 2 pcs

Tools
Round Nose Pliers
Cutters 
Needle Nose Pliers

Instructions

Step 1: Cut the Soft Flex Craft Wire in half.

Step 2: Use 1 wire and form a 90 degree bend 1 1/4 inches from one end of the wire. String 1 teardrop and bend the wire into a triangle shape.  Form a wire wrapped loop at the top of the teardrop. Do not cut any wires.

Step 3: Use the long end of the wire to string 1 silver round bead, 1 quartz round bead, and 1 silver round bead. Form a wire wrapped loop that attaches to 1 ear wire. Trim wire ends.

Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 to make a second earring.

Wire Wrapped Quartz Dangle Earrings by Shelley Richey

Shop our Briolette Collection

Shop our briolette collection!

Shop our briolette collection!

Briolette cut gemstones were popular during the Victorian era in England. This period overlapped the Gilded Age, so one might imagine these stunning gemstones on the necks of the very opulent. The faceted tear shape is perfect for catching light and making a simple stone look radiantly beautiful. Shop our collection of briolette cuts. Make jewelry fit for a queen or a powerful business magnate.

Pearl Dangle

Pearl Dangle Earrings by Shelley Richey

Designer Shelley Richey
Skill Level Beginner

Materials
Silver Plated Ear Wires - 1 pair 
24 gauge Sterling Silver 3" Head Pins - 2 pcs 
3mm Sterling Silver Round Beads - 6 pcs 
6x5mm White Rice Pearls - 2 pcs 
9mm White Coin Pearls - 2 pcs 

Tools
Round Nose Pliers
Flush Cutters
Needle Nose Pliers 

Instructions

Step 1: Use 1 head pin to string 1 silver bead, 1 coin pearl, 1 silver pearl, 1 rice pearl, and 1 silver bead.

Step 2: Form a wire wrapped dangle that attaches to 1 ear wire.

Step 3: Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to make a second earring.

Pearl Dangle Earrings by Shelley Richey

Shop our Pearl Collection

Shop Pearls!

Shop Pearls!

The elegance and lasting beauty of a strand of pearls is timeless. There has never been a period in history where pearls were not en vogue. Add pearls to your next Gilded Age style bracelet for an instant iconic look. Pearls are organic gemstones. They are formed when a foreign body becomes trapped inside of the shell of a mollusk. Pearls are a rare occurrence naturally and in previous centuries, thousands of oysters and mussels would have to be opened to find even one. They are now cultivated with the expert help of pearl farmers.

Fancy Crystals Bracelet

Designer Janet Balich
Skill Level Beginner

Materials 

4mm Austrian Crystal Squaredelles (Color Option 1) - 11 pcs
4mm Austrian Crystal Squaredelles (Color Option 2) - 12 pcs
6mm Fire Polished  Beads - 22 pcs
Austrian Crystal Toggle Clasp - 1 set 
Soft Flex Beading Wire .024 diameter - 8 pcs
2x3mm Sterling Silver Crimp Tubes - 2 pcs 

Tools
Mighty Crimping Pliers 
Cutters 

Instructions

Step 1: Use Soft Flex Flush Cutters to cut about 8" of .024 Soft Flex Wire from the spool.

Step 2: String one sterling silver crimp tube and one half of the toggle clasp. Pass back through the crimp tube and secure using crimping pliers.  Click here for crimping instructions. Cut off excess wire at the crimp using Flush Cutters.

Step 3: String 1 Squaredelle Color Option 2, 1 Fire Polished Bead, 1 Squardelle Color Option 1, and 1 Fire Polished Bead. Continue stringing, repeat the sequence ten times. String 1 Squaredelle Color Option 2.

Step 4: String one sterling silver crimp tube and the other half of the toggle clasp. Pass back through the crimp tube and secure using crimping pliers. Cut off excess wire with Flush Cutters.

Shop our Crystal Squaredelles Collection!

Shop our Crystal Squaredelles!

Shop our Crystal Squaredelles!

Our line of Squaredelles is simply stunning. With spacer beads and matching clasps, you can create perfect designs. If diamonds are a girls best friend, crystals must be the runner up. We are proud to present to you our Squaredelles line. These findings and beads are available in 3 finishes: black, gold and silver and a huge assortment of colors. Enjoy.

Join our Facebook group – VIB. Stay in the know. Stay up to date. From our bead shows to our video shows and sales, you can stay in touch with us. The community is full of artistic and helpful beaders and crafty people. Inspire and be inspired. Share your pictures and get the beading bug from others!

Visit the Soft Flex Company YouTube Channel!

Subscribe To Email


Thomas Soles

Blog contributor Thomas Soles loves Jazz Age writers and crunchy french fries. His favorite gemstones are Lapis and Pietersite. His favorite hobby is day dreaming. And his favorite mustache is Freddie Mercury's. As you can see, he has a healthy (or possibly unhealthy) sense of humor. You can write to him at [email protected]