Cut-steel jewelry was designed and “set” with tiny faceted and polished steel studs - fashioned to resemble gemstones. These small metal pieces were typically riveted in place and was originally meant to imitate gems like marcasite.
Check out this old illustrated advertisement from the 1700s for cut steel buttons!
Cut-steel jewelry was produced as far back as the Elizabethan period in England but rose in demand - especially in France circa 1759, when cut-steel jewelry was worn as a substitute for donated (or hidden) jewelry when French King Louis XV (pictured below) ‘requested’ that citizens donate their precious gems and jewelry to help fund his military campaigns during the ‘Seven Years War’.
Because of the French's infatuation and love for these steel-cut accessories, demand for these baubles accelerated greatly with English manufacturers in Woodstock and Birmingham - some of the main jewelry hubs not only in the country, but the world.
We were lucky enough to snag a few different sets of cut steel earrings and we just love how they turned out. Such a fun piece of history to wear!