A question I often get asked is “What is Paste Jewellery?” At Lancastrian Jewellers, we love Paste jewels, and if you’ve been following our page for a while, you’ll already know this.
As a young collector myself, I understand Gemstones and Diamonds aren’t the friendliest to the wallet. I love buying and selling Paste because it allows you to have wonderful quality true Antique pieces at a much lower cost. That being said, some Paste jewels have fetched significantly higher prices than Diamond pieces at auction!
What is Paste?
But, “What is Paste?”, you say? Paste is a special type of cut glass which emulates a variety of gemstones. In antique jewellery, lead glass was most commonly used, since the denser the material, the higher the refractive index and the greater the dispersion.
Paste jewellery dates back to France during the 18th century when a jeweller named Georges Frederic Stras began hand crafting fine-quality Paste jewellery in 1724. He was quickly then appointed as “Jeweller to the King”, and began making Paste jewellery for King Louis XV of France.
The popularity of Paste jewellery quickly rocketed, with the appeal being that it was almost impossible to tell the difference between Paste and the real thing. Infact, in most cases the Paste looked and sparkled better!
Paste jewels were also often more labour intensive to craft than Gemstone jewellery, as the Paste glass had to be expertly cut and polished by hand. This made the appeal even greater with many in Parisian high society deeming Paste jewellery superior to the real thing!
Paste went on throughout the rest of the Georgian era to be very popular. In the Victorian era, a tasteful lady would almost certainly have a Paste jewellery set in her collection. The popularity continued and soared through to the Edwardian and Art Deco eras until circa.1930, when traditional Paste jewellery came to an end. This was due to Parisian Couture designers such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli creating Costume Jewellery by re-creating Paste jewellery with modern techniques, to suit their Hollywood clientele.