What is steel cut jewelry? Well, not such easy as steel…since it became a style of making jewelry that was in fashion in Europe for more than a century.
These are small pieces of carved and polished steel with different cuts to give it a special shine and glow, these were fitted to a steel base. Thus, different jewelry and ornaments were created.
Steel cut jewelry began in England in Elizabethan times, then the small beads were cut about 15 times, playing with the angle of the faces of steel which provided a unique brightness.
This type of jewelry was greatly appreciated and continued until Victorian times. One of the biggest steel cut workshops was in Woodstock (England). Due to its complicated manufacture, the price was very high.
Also, in France it became fashionable, these pieces replaced the jewels that nobles had to donate to King Louis XV in 1759 to finance his military campaigns. The English workshops were not able to handle this new market and demand from France became overwhelming, soon steel cut workshops began to appear in France. The demand was so great that it became cost as much as gold.
All this changed with the French Revolution, as it deprived the market of its best customers: the nobles. This historic event led to the closure of many shops in England. They were also some producers in France covering more than the small demand for that country, so they didn’t need to import.
The decorating themes were varied, from simple to more complex, with multiple layers. The designs could be created using various bead sizes on the same design. Earrings, necklaces, brooches, bracelets, chatelaines, shoe buckles or complete sets: all kinds of steel cut jewelry were produced. It was also popular for decorating frames cameos.
The great thing is that there aren’t gems or precious stones, is just polished steel and it can compete in brightness with them. How can this riveted steel on a steel base become so spectacular?
The worst thing is that these pieces rust with humidity and they can break down over the years, for that reason no really old pieces remain in good condition. The steel cut jewelry with more value were made at the beginning, cutting the beads around 15 times by hand. As time goes by, this method was lost and the beads were cut only 5 times, making them less shiny.
Jewellers also began to carve with machines, which meant the traditional process of setting one by one by hand was lost. Both demand and cut steel jewelry production began to fall and the technique survived only until the nineteenth century.
Today you can find some pieces of the last period, especially buttons, shoe buckles and beads. Its price today still expensive, since there are no longer manufacturing workshops. Also, the price depends on the number of the bead “cuts”.
We want it back! We want its splendor again! We usually work with steel cut in our jewelry pieces and we know that someday it will come to an end, no more steel cut. How sad is that!? Check out our shop to get your steel cut jewel before they disappear forever.