The new limited series Queen Charlotte is set in the Georgian period (1714–1830), an era that has long fascinated Larkspur & Hawk designer Emily Satloff. Her line is informed by the design codes of that time, with a modern, everyday-relevant spin.
The Bridgerton-adjacent period drama—created, like Bridgerton, by Shonda Rhimes—reimagines the life of Queen Charlotte, her marriage to King George III (yes, that King George III), and their gloriously beribboned, French-influenced life at court.
Here’s the trailer; all six episodes are available for bingeing on Netflix as of today.
To fully appreciate how well the Larkspur & Hawk jewels layer into the show’s portrayal of the Georgian royals, a little historical context might be helpful.
“King George III and Queen Charlotte were a pretty dynamic couple, and by the standards of the times, a very modern couple,” says Satloff, who is a scholar and specialist in the history of decorative arts. Prior to launching her first collection, she did her graduate studies at Sotheby’s and the Cooper Hewitt museum and also worked as a museum curator at institutions like the New York Historical Society. “Parenting was very important to them. Women’s issues were important to them, especially to her.”
The reigning aesthetic of the day, notes Satloff, was heavily influenced by the French. “Even when the English are fighting with France, they’re still influenced by France in terms of style, especially French textiles and ribbons and other finery,” she says. “And we know that Queen Charlotte was a pen pal with Marie Antoinette. I don’t know that they ever met in person, but they definitely were friends via letter writing.”
As for the jewelry of the day, “it’s very romantic, very sentimental jewelry,” says Satloff. “You’re going to see things like portrait miniatures, you’re going to see hearts and flowers, hair ornaments, jewels set en tremblant, and ribbons. And expect to see flatter stones—rose cuts, table cuts, less-advanced stonecutting techniques that we are used to today.”
Meanwhile, anyone familiar with the Larkspur & Hawk brand knows that foil-backing diamonds and gemstones was a common practice in Georgian-era jewelry design and that Satloff has resurrected the technique as a distinguishing feature of her collection. In the past, she says, “one of the considerations that Georgian jewelers were after was how the stones would sparkle and glow in candlelight in the evening for parties.”
On some level, this was also the primary consideration for Queen Charlotte’s Emmy Award–winning costume designer Lyn Paolo when it came to selecting jewels to complement the sumptuous—and wildly embellished—gowns she created for the show (in collaboration with co-designer Laura Frecon).
In her search for authentic Georgian jewels, “I was visiting all these fantastic antique stores in and around London but struggling to figure out how to modernize the look, so that it would have the essence of the period but still feel relevant to the modern eye,” says Paolo, whose CV includes such shows as Scandal (ABC), How to Get Away With Murder (ABC), Inventing Anna (Netflix), and Shameless (Showtime). It was Paolo’s New York-based publicist Linda Kearns who connected her to Larkspur & Hawk.
“What I love about Emily Satloff and her team is that they wanted to see what I was doing first, which I respect 100 percent,” says Paolo. “They didn’t just say yes to me right away—because Emily takes her world so seriously, and she’s so passionate about Georgian jewelry. So I sent her a PDF of swatches and fabrics and some preproduction images, and we discovered that we speak the same language. And I immediately fell in love with her as a human and have now become obsessed with her jewelry.”
The collaboration took off from there, a two-year process filled with virtual meetings and the exchange of innumerable images, sketches, and swatches. Paolo would send visuals to convey creative direction, and Satloff would send photos of the jewels she had on hand, scouring her inventory to find pieces that hit just right note, in just the right palette.
In all, Satloff thinks she sent about 75 pieces off to the U.K. for use in the show, and quite a lot of them made the cut.
“In the garden where Charlotte first meets George—I love that rivière necklace and earrings that Emily created for that scene,” says Paolo (you’ll see it in episode 1 and in the trailer above). “I think it’s so perfect because you can see that the jewels that she’s wearing are spectacular in their own right, but they’re not ostentatious, not as ostentatious as what we see on her later on. I felt like that moment was a perfect moment for the collaboration between Larkspur & Hawk and myself.”
Another piece to keep your eyes peeled for: Queen Charlotte’s engagement ring. “It’s a ring that I designed many years ago in an early iteration of my business,” Satloff says. “The original ring that Queen Charlotte was given by King George III on her wedding day is a portrait miniature of King George with a cluster formed with diamonds around it. She wore throughout her life, often on her pinky.”
“Our ring is not literal, but more evocative of the shape and looks likes it is from the Georgian period,” she says. “It’s foiled white quartz in a cluster style. My intention when I designed it was to imitate the color of 18th century rose-cut diamonds. So it has soft gray to it. And because it’s Queen Charlotte, it’s a pretty sizable center stone that [reads as] a diamond. It’s believable. It feels regal. It feels important.”
Speaking of regal and important—you may have heard something about another royal event happening this week: King Charles III’s coronation on May 6. But with its dress code of “business attire,” Queen Charlotte seems to be the occasion more likely to deliver the ultimate in royal glamour and resplendence. Guess which one I’m here for.
Top: India Amarteifio plays the title role in Queen Charlotte, which is now available for streaming on Netflix. (All production photos courtesy of Netflix)
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