During the Late Victorian or Aesthetic period (1885-1900), jewelers used diamonds and feminine, bright gemstones such as sapphire, peridot, and spinel. Star and crescent designs as well as elaborate hat pins were also popular. Some scholars believe the aesthetic era began sooner, in 1875, and ended as early as 1890.
Because of the softness of pure (24k), it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower carat rating, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 9k, contain higher percentages of copper or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color.