Posts tagged antique jewellery
Lover's Eye Miniatures

“When full dressed she wore around her neck the barrenest of lockets, representing a fishy old eye, with no approach to speculation in it” – Charles Dickens, 1848

A miniature watercolor on ivory from c. 1840.  METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/ PUBLIC DOMAIN

A miniature watercolor on ivory from c. 1840. METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/ PUBLIC DOMAIN

Miniature on ivory, c. 1830’s. Hand-painted miniature of a left hazel eye on ivory in heart-shaped pendant. Eye miniatures or Lovers’ eyes were Georgian miniatures, normally watercolour on ivory, depicting the eye or eyes of a spouse, loved one or child.   PUBLIC DOMAIN

Miniature on ivory, c. 1830’s. Hand-painted miniature of a left hazel eye on ivory in heart-shaped pendant. Eye miniatures or Lovers’ eyes were Georgian miniatures, normally watercolour on ivory, depicting the eye or eyes of a spouse, loved one or child.   PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lovers' Eyes Miniatures were fashionable in the Georgian era, beginning from the 1790s until the 1820s. They were commissioned pieces and were normally watercolour on ivory and depicted the eye or eyes of a loved one. They could be found on  bracelets, brooches, pendants, rings and other trinkets such as the lids of toothpick containers and small boxes. They sometimes contained locks of hair, incorporated into the portrait itself or placed behind glass or crystal.

The first Lover's Eye piece is thought to have been sent by the Prince of Wales (later George IV) to the widow Maria Fitzherbert. A miniaturist was commissioned to paint only his eye in order to preserve the secrecy of their relationship. George IV wore Maria Fitzherbert's eye miniature hidden under his lapel. 

This highly romantic, sentimental and original idea appealed greatly to people of the Georgian era. Today, Lover's Eyes Miniatures are considered highly collectible and fetch very high prices. (NOTE: There is a thriving market in fakes, so please exercise caution if you have the opportunity to purchase one of these lovely items). 

Maria Fitzherbert, (1756–1837), circa 1788.   PUBLIC DOMAIN

Maria Fitzherbert, (1756–1837), circa 1788.   PUBLIC DOMAIN

A “memory box” made of embossed and painted paper containing eye miniature, ca. 1830.   (Credit: Skier Collection)

A “memory box” made of embossed and painted paper containing eye miniature, ca. 1830.

(Credit: Skier Collection)

Miniature(Source: Sentimental Jewelry Blog

Miniature(Source: Sentimental Jewelry Blog

Source:  Pinterest/  Amanda Hsiao    

Source:  Pinterest/ Amanda Hsiao

 

Miniature on ivory, c. 1830’s. Hand-painted miniature of a left hazel eye on ivory in heart-shaped pendant.


Further reading:  https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/02/03/hair-work-jewelry/

https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/01/21/the-major-jewelry-motifs-of-the-georgian-era/

 

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Victorian Symbology

The Victorians wore jewellery which conveyed nuanced meaning, expressed sentiment and brought fortune. They celebrated life events, friendship, love, and courtship with these designs. Below is a list of motifs and an outline of what they symbolised  for the Victorians. Many of these meanings remain today although others have been lost along the way. 

BIRDS

Birds had a wide variety of meaning for the Victorians. For example, swallows symbolized love and mating for life.

Read more about the LANGUAGE OF BIRDS 

Victorian turquoise and silver bird bangle. Elder & Bloom. 

Victorian turquoise and silver bird bangle. Elder & Bloom. 

CRESCENT MOON AND STARS

The crescent moon represented a new relationship and the hope it would “wax” into matrimony. Read more about ASTROLOGICAL MOTIFS 

The   simple crescent moon was a popular motif in the late Victorian era  England, c. 1890 Gold set with diamonds V&A Museum   

The simple crescent moon was a popular motif in the late Victorian era
England, c. 1890
Gold set with diamonds
V&A Museum

 

CROSSED OARS

Crossed Oars symbolised ‘contentment’.

Photo source: Spielman Antiques    

Photo source: Spielman Antiques

 

DOGS

A dog symbolised loyalty and friendship.

Victorian Micro Mosaic Dog Brooch. Lang's Antiques

Victorian Micro Mosaic Dog Brooch. Lang's Antiques

 

FIGURE EIGHTS

Figure eights symbolised eternity or ‘infinity’.

Victorian 'Figure Eight' Brooch. Photo Source: Lang Antiques. 

Victorian 'Figure Eight' Brooch. Photo Source: Lang Antiques. 

FLOWERS

Flowers and plants had diverse hidden meanings for the Victorians. An entire 'language of flowers' was developed, known as 'Floriography'.  Read more about the LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS

Forget-me-not, rose and acorn motif. The acorn symbolized strength and longevity.   Paris, c. 1820-1840 Brooch with gold, diamonds and turquoises. V&A Museum

Forget-me-not, rose and acorn motif. The acorn symbolized strength and longevity.

Paris, c. 1820-1840
Brooch with gold, diamonds and turquoises.
V&A Museum

GARTER MOTIF

The garter symbolised chastity and virtue. The 'order of the garter' was an order of chivalry founded by the British monarchy. 

Garter Motif brooch. Source, Lang Antiques. 

Garter Motif brooch. Source, Lang Antiques. 

GREEK KEYS

The Greek Key motif symbolised infinity or the ‘eternal flow of things’. Read more about the GREEK KEY MOTIF

bordermotif17_meander.jpg

GRIFFINS

The mythical griffin represented courage.

Victorian Griffin Pendant. Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian Griffin Pendant. Elder and Bloom. 

HANDS

Hands had a variety of different meanings, depending on the form, including affection, strength, family and love.  

See THE HAND MOTIF  See also  FEDE, CLADDAGH, GIMMEL and PUZZLE RINGS

Victorian Hand Motif Necklace / Watch Chain. Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian Hand Motif Necklace / Watch Chain. Elder and Bloom. 

HEARTS

These symbolised love, friendship, affection and devotion. Combined hearts and flowers signified fidelity and remembrance. 

Victorian Heart Earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian Heart Earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

 

HORSESHOE

Horseshoes symbolised good luck and fortune.

Victorian Horseshoe Motif Brooch. Source: Ebay. 

Victorian Horseshoe Motif Brooch. Source: Ebay. 

 

KEYS

Keys symbolised knowledge and success and were also given as a 'coming of age' gift on the 21st birthday. They also meant 'you have the key to my heart'. 

Victorian Key Pendant. Source: Butter Lane Antiques. 

Victorian Key Pendant. Source: Butter Lane Antiques. 

LIZARDS

A lizard  symbolised ‘wedded bliss’ and was given as wedding or anniversary gifts.

A Victorian opal, diamond and ruby salamander brooch, late 19th century.  Bonhams. 

A Victorian opal, diamond and ruby salamander brooch, late 19th century.

Bonhams. 

 

LOVER’S KNOT

Lovers’ knots symbolized ‘eternal love,’ ‘fidelity’ and ‘commitment’. See also  FEDE, CLADDAGH, GIMMEL and PUZZLE RINGS

Victorian Lover's Knot Ring. Lang's Antiques. 

Victorian Lover's Knot Ring. Lang's Antiques. 

SCARAB

Scarabs symbolised ‘endurance of the soul.’ They rose to prominence with the 'Egyptian Revival' Movements. 

Victorian Scarab Necklace. Lang's Antiques. 

Victorian Scarab Necklace. Lang's Antiques. 

 

SHAMROCKS AND FOUR-LEAVED CLOVERS

Shamrocks and four-leaved clovers symbolised good health, good luck, and happiness. They were very much associated with Ireland and many were produced there. They could often be made with real shamrocks or four-leaved clovers set under clear enamel, rock crystal or glass. 

Victorian Four-Leaved Clover Brooch. Source: Ebay

Victorian Four-Leaved Clover Brooch. Source: Ebay

 

SNAKES  

Snakes symbolised eternal life, sexuality and mystery. Read more about SNAKE MOTIFS

Victorian gold serpent ring. Elder and Bloom.     

Victorian gold serpent ring. Elder and Bloom. 

 

STONES

Acrostic jewelry was a way to convey a sentimental message by way with the first letter of each stone, the first letter of which spelled out a word. Read more about the LANGUAGE OF STONES

England, c. 1830 Pendant, gold with lapis lazuli, glass in imitation of opal, garnet, emerald and gold. Here, the pendant has the stones of Lapis Lazuli, glass in imitation of Opal, Vermeil ( the old name for garnet ) and Emerald which spell LOVE. V&A Museum

England, c. 1830
Pendant, gold with lapis lazuli, glass in imitation of opal, garnet, emerald and gold.
Here, the pendant has the stones of Lapis Lazuli, glass in imitation of Opal, Vermeil ( the old name for garnet ) and Emerald which spell LOVE.
V&A Museum


Further reading: https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/02/21/charm-bracelets/

 

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Language of Birds

The Victorians assigned symbolism to many things and birds in jewellery held a nuanced and precise meaning. Below is an overview of this meaning. 

Swallows and bluebirds

Both swallows and bluebirds had a special meaning for seafarers because these birds were the first sign that land was near. Swallows were thought to lead ships home and prevent them from being lost. The meaning assigned to these birds became to be 'safe home', or ‘to safely return home’ and so they were often given to loved ones when they set out on a journey. They also symbolised 'heart and home'  and were associated with faithfulness. 'Messengers of Venus' was another assigned meaning. Flying birds in general were thought to represent the soul. 

Victorian turquoise set swallow or bluebird brooch

Victorian turquoise set swallow or bluebird brooch

Aesthetic Movement (Late Victorian) 'Sweetheart Brooch'. Swallows are known to mate for life so were therefore often given to one's sweetheart. Brooches with the swallow motif are often known as 'sweetheart brooches'. 

Aesthetic Movement (Late Victorian) 'Sweetheart Brooch'. Swallows are known to mate for life so were therefore often given to one's sweetheart. Brooches with the swallow motif are often known as 'sweetheart brooches'. 

Victorian Swallow brooch. Two swallows signified romantic love. 

Victorian Swallow brooch. Two swallows signified romantic love. 

A blue bird or swallow with a wishbone was  a common design, signifying 'Wish for lasting love'

A blue bird or swallow with a wishbone was  a common design, signifying 'Wish for lasting love'

Doves

Doves have carried the meaning of hope and peace since ancient times.  During Victorian times, they were often shown with the word pax (the Latin word for peace) holding an olive branch in their beak. The dove was a symbol of faith and was meant to represent The Holy Spirit.  The French 'Saint Esprit' or 'Holy Spirit dove' could often be depicted descending from heaven to earth with wings spread. Doves were often pavé set with turquoise, which was meant to bring luck to the wearer. When the dove held a heart in its beak, it symbolised love.

Victorian Turquoise Pavé dove bangle. Currently for sale at Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian Turquoise Pavé dove bangle. Currently for sale at Elder and Bloom. 

Bird's claw

A bird's claw meant 'Thinking of you' or 'Praying for you.'

In Victorian times, actual bird's claws were sometimes turned into brooches. (One of these will never be sold by Elder and Bloom!)

In Victorian times, actual bird's claws were sometimes turned into brooches. (One of these will never be sold by Elder and Bloom!)

Phoenix 

A phoenix represented renewal, resurrection, rebirth and immortality. 

Art Nouveau Phoenix locket. Previously sold by Elder and Bloom. For more information see  here.

Art Nouveau Phoenix locket. Previously sold by Elder and Bloom. For more information see here.

Swan

Swans were symbolic of 'purity and grace'. 

Late Victorian Swan Brooch. Previously for sale by Elder and Bloom. 

Late Victorian Swan Brooch. Previously for sale by Elder and Bloom. 

Humming Bird

The meaning of the humming bird was 'God's Tiny Miracle'

Victorian Hummingbird pendant. Previously for sale at Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian Hummingbird pendant. Previously for sale at Elder and Bloom. 

Pheasant

The pheasant was thought to symbolise nobility, virtue and refinement.  It also evoked the spirit of the countryside. 

Victorian pique pheasant brooch. Previously for sale by Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian pique pheasant brooch. Previously for sale by Elder and Bloom. 

Love birds

Love birds signified faithfulness, eternal love and marriage

Victorian 'love bird' brooch. 

Victorian 'love bird' brooch. 

Blackbirds

Blackbirds were worn during mourning.

Victorian Blackbird mourning brooch. 

Victorian Blackbird mourning brooch. 

Crow or raven

A crow or raven meant 'Protection of friends'.

Owl

An owl represented vigilance and wisdom. 

Peacock

A peacock represented immortality, beauty and knowledge.

Eagle

An eagle represented nobility, strength, courage, wisdom and power.

Feathers

Feathers signified 'obedience' and could imply the obedience of a wife to her husband or to God. 

Parrot 

Parrots and birds of paradises were also often depicted but I have yet to discern the symbolic meanings. 

Victorian parrot pendant with real feathers. 

Victorian parrot pendant with real feathers. 

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Green Gemstones
Antique emerald and pearl ring. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique emerald and pearl ring. Elder and Bloom. 

Below you will find a list of green coloured gemstones that may be encountered in antique and vintage jewellery.

Emerald

This is a yellowish green to bluish green beryl.

Green Tourmaline 

There are several green colored varieties of tourmaline and they can be referred to as 'verdelite' or 'chrome' (a rich green to sightly yellow-green tourmaline) or 'paraiba' (a light to deep green to blue green shade of tourmaline). 

Peridot

This is a yellow green to green gemstone. 

Green Zircon.

This can be green to yellow-green to gray-green in colour. 

Alexandrite

In daylight alexandrite can be bluish to blue green and in artificial or evening light violet-red. Discovered around 1834. (For more about alexandrite, one of my favourite gemstones, see here). 

Chrysoberyl

A pale green to yellow green transparent gemstone. 

Chrysoprase

This is a type of chalcedony.

Sapphire

This is a yellow green to blue-green to gray-green corundum

Demantoid Garnet

This is a variety of yellow-green to emerald- green garnet. Discovered in 1868. For more about garnets, see here

Tsavorite Garnet 

This is a yellowish green to bluish green variety of garnet. As far as I know, tsavorite is not found in jewellery dating before 1971. 

The Edwardian Era
642c2a3633e6c818e773d1ec527466f5.jpg

Although King Edward's reign spanned the years 1901-1910, when referring to jewellery, the Edwardian Era generally means the years 1901 - 1915.  Stylistically, Edwardian era jewellery can also be said to have begun much earlier, during the last years of the Aesthetic Era. The Edwardian era also occurred simultaneously to the French Belle Epoque Era and is also known as The Garland Era due to the prevalence of the iconic garland motif (see under 'Motifs' below). 

The designs of the Edwardian era jewellery were light and airy, influenced by the fluid lines of Art Nouveau design whilst still based on traditional motifs. Edwardian era jewellery is perhaps the  most ethereal and feminine jewellery of all and can be seen as a rejection of the ostentatious and stuffy designs of the Victorian era. Edwardian jewellery's emphasis on light coloured materials can also be seen as an reaction to the previous century's obsession with black mourning jewellery.  

MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING

Platinum quickly became the most important metal during this era. Prior to 1903, platinum was usually backed with gold. However, in 1903, the invention of the oxyacetylene torch and its ensuing high temperatures enabled pieces to be made solely from platinum. The strength and malleability of platinum allowed pieces to be created, often using pierced open work and filigree, that were both very fine and delicate whilst at the same time very durable.  Because of the adaptability of platinum, the new decorative technique of millegraining, in which extremely tiny bead like details are added to the edges of jewellery, emerged during this period. 

The most popular gemstones were diamonds and pearls.  Amethyst, turquoise, sapphires, garnets and opals were all popular stones. Jewellers experimented with new cuts such as calibré, baguette, marquises and briolettes.

STYLES

Dog Collars

Princess Alexandra 

Princess Alexandra 

Although the choker style necklaces, known as 'dog collars', were popular in France around 1865, the fashion boomed in England around 1880 when worn by Princess Alexandra. (It is said she was covering up a scar on her neck.) The styles of these tight fitting necklaces ranged from elaborate platinum pieces to wide rows of pearls to black velvet or or moiré, often with a central design in the form of a plaque, a garland, a flower or a buckle.  

Négligée

This is a necklace comprised often of fine chain links but not necessarily with two parallel pendants suspended at slightly different heights. This type of necklace began to be popular around 1900.

Sautoirs

Sautoirs were very long necklaces, often ropes of pearls or beads or chains with gems. They often had a fringed tassel at each end. They were worn wrapped multiple times around the neck or loose and falling past the waist. (This fashion continued in earnest in the Art Deco era).

Risqué Edwardian lady wearing a sautoir necklace and an aigrette. 

Risqué Edwardian lady wearing a sautoir necklace and an aigrette. 

 

White Jewellery

The Edwardian era is typified by the craze for all white jewellery. The beautiful pierced or filigree platinum and diamond pieces are said to  have complimented the new electric lighting perfectly and corresponded with a focus on evening events, the theatre, dinners and elegant cruises.  

Edwardian Era DIAMOND AND NATURAL PEARL PENDANT NECKLACE Christie’s Sale 2604

Edwardian Era DIAMOND AND NATURAL PEARL PENDANT NECKLACE
Christie’s Sale 2604

Edwardian era diamond and platinum brooch. Christies. 

Edwardian era diamond and platinum brooch. Christies. 

Black and white

Around 1910, the all white jewellery began to be mixed with black ribbons, black enamel, jet or onyx. These jewels could be worn whilst still observing mourning etiquette.

Résille

These were very fine, netted necklaces made of platinum, often set with diamonds.  They covered the neck and shoulders and flowed to the bodice. Cartier named them draperie de décolleté.

Edwardian lady wearing a résille necklace. 

Edwardian lady wearing a résille necklace. 

 

Earrings

Earrings in this era grew larger and longer, often dangling, designed to move and flow and catch the light. Again, there was an emphasis on platinum, diamonds, filigree and millegrain work. 

Edwardian lady. Note the dangling, flowing earrings and the aigrette. She is also wearing a 'fringe' necklace, a style popularised by archaeological revival. 

Edwardian lady. Note the dangling, flowing earrings and the aigrette. She is also wearing a 'fringe' necklace, a style popularised by archaeological revival. 

 

Bracelets

The fashion for wearing many bracelets at a time fell out of favour. Bracelets where more delicate and refined than ever. 

Tiaras and Bandeaus

Tiaras were lighter and more elaborate as platinum allowed for more intricate and fine designs.  Towards the end of the 1910s, bandeaus started to be worn across the forehead. The meander tiara, with the Greek key motif, was also popular. 

Edwardian lady wearing a bandeau.

Edwardian lady wearing a bandeau.

 

Aigrettes

Aigrettes became all the rage and were worn extensively by the well to do and even, at times, by ordinary woman. 

Rings

Rings were worn stacked and often on nearly every finger. They often had a central stone surrounded by other smaller stones.

Buckles and slides

Buckles, usually associated with the early Victorian and Georgian era, and slides, were worn at the waist to emphasis slender waistlines.  They were also attached to ribbons and worn around the head instead of tiaras or aigrettes. 

Edwardian Lady appearing to have a buckle in her hair. 

Edwardian Lady appearing to have a buckle in her hair. 

 

Mix and match

Parures were no longer in fashion as women worn jewellery of different designs and styles.  The lines between what was worn during the day and what was worn during the evening blurred as a more relaxed approach to jewellery emerged. 

MOTIFS

Textile 

Textile inspired motifs such as garlands and ribbons, bow knots, tassel and fine lace work motifs became extremely prevalent. The garland was such an ubiquitous motif that the Edwardian era is often referred to as 'The Garland Era'. 

A garland motif Edwardian Era platinum, diamond and topaz brooch Christie’s Sale 8127

A garland motif Edwardian Era platinum, diamond and topaz brooch
Christie’s Sale 8127

 

Ornamental

Cartier designers took inspiration from the historical architecture of Paris, whilst other designers sought inspiration from the 18th pattern books and records which began to be published around 1850. 

Oriental 

Inspired by performances such as the Russian Ballet's Schéhérazade in Paris,  tastes turned to all things oriental.  Colourful gems, peacock feathers and Indian flavoured designs took centre stage. 

 

IN CONCLUSION

Although very different in style and materials and manufacuring, The Edwardian aesthetic developed simultaneously to the Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts movements, as well as the German Jugendstil movement and other related design movements. They can been seen as sharing a rejection of the oppressive past and an embracing of freedom and fluidity. This wonderful explosion of elegance, freedom and feminine expresson came to a sudden end with the outbreak of the World War 1, four years after the death of Edward VII. Jewellery manufacturing almost ceased entirely during this period. Precious metals became very hard to come by and platinum, being sought after by the weapons industry, was rarely used until after the war.  We have yet to see a return to the exquisite sensibilities of the Edwardian era, although many have continued to wear and revere the styles. 

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli has been loved since antiquity for its intense, vibrant cobalt blue colour. It can be flecked with either white or gold (calcite or pyrite).

A metamorphic rock, mainly composed of the mineral Lazurite, it usually originates from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia or Chile. It is also mined, to a lesser extent, in Italy, Mongolia, the United States and Canada.

Below you will find some of the many applications for Lapis Lazuli in antique and vintage jewellery:

Pietre Dure

Lapis Lazuli is also one of the principal stones used on Italian Pietre Dure (micro-mosaics). 

Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold. The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold. The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

Acrostic

The Georgians and the Victorians, with their passion for acrostic jewellery (‘The Language of Stones’) used Lapis Lazuli to represent the letter ‘L’ for ‘Love’.

Acrostic Pendant. 1830. V&A Museum.

Acrostic Pendant. 1830. V&A Museum.

Cameo and Intaglio

Many beautiful examples can be found of Lapis Lazuli used in cameo and intaglio. 

Lapis Lazuli Cameo. 1580-1600. Italy. V&A Museum.

Lapis Lazuli Cameo. 1580-1600. Italy. V&A Museum.

Arts & Crafts

The Arts & Crafts movement designers favoured Lapis Lazuli as the stone fitted in with their ‘beauty before perceived value’ philosophy.

Arts and Crafts Pendant 1903. May Morris. Set with variety of stones, including lapis lazuli. V&A Museum.

Arts and Crafts Pendant 1903. May Morris. Set with variety of stones, including lapis lazuli. V&A Museum.

 

Art Deco

Art Deco Jewellery designers prized Lapis Lazuli as it suited their vibrant, bold styles.

Art Deco Lapis Lazuli Diamond Gold Earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Art Deco Lapis Lazuli Diamond Gold Earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Cartier stands out as a design company who loved to use Lapis Lazuli during the Art Deco era.

Lapis Lazuli Brooch. Cartier 1920-1930. V&A Museum.

Lapis Lazuli Brooch. Cartier 1920-1930. V&A Museum.

Imitations

There are four other stones that can be mistaken for Lapis Lazuli. These are:

  1. Dyed Jasper or Howlite. It will have the cobalt blue colour but will not show the white or golden patches. (Known as ‘Swiss Lapis’).
  2. Sodalite, which is one of the components of Lapis Lazuli, looks similar but the color is much paler.
  3. There is a synthetic spinel which also imitates Lapis Lazuli. (Known as ‘Gilson Lapis’). This looks very similar but does not have the same random patterns shown in natural Lapis Lazuli.
  4. Azurite is not as hard and has a darker tint.

Tip: To see if a stone has been dyed, try removing the colour with acetone.

Final note: 

Lapis Lazuli has, of course, been used as a paint pigment since the late Middle Ages and has been a favourite of many of the great artists. This beautiful painting by Vermeer showcases not only Lapis Lazuli as a paint pigment but also a style of pearl earring from the era.

‘The Girl With a Pearl Earring’. Vermeer.

‘The Girl With a Pearl Earring’. Vermeer.

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sources / Further Reading: 

http://www.langantiques.com/university/Lapis_Lazuli

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapis_lazuli

https://hyperallergic.com/315564/lapis-lazuli-a-blue-more-precious-than-gold/

Jewellery of the Great Exhibition, 1851

The Great Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations (aka ‘The Crystal Palace Exhibition’) opened on May 1st in 1851. It was the first and most well known of many subsequent world fairs. It showcased the peak of achievement and modern technology from the British Empire as well as many other countries. It was considered a celebration of industry, arts and culture and was one of the most colourful events of the Victorian Romantic Era. 

The exhibition took place in a purposefully designed building in the Hyde Park area of London. The building was made of glass and iron and resembled a giant greenhouse. Although some doubted its safety, it was considered by most to be an architectural marvel. It became known as ‘The Crystal Palace’ and had an area of about 19 acres or 772,284 square feet.

The exhibition itself must have been a true wonder to behold. It brought sights normally reserved for the elites to the average person. There were literally miles of amazing things to see – from manufacturing machinery to engines and steam hammers and boilers. There were inventions and discoveries, musical instruments, furniture, fine textiles, pottery, laces, clocks, toys, colourful glass and much more.

The jewellery and the precious materials which were displayed at the exhibition drew much attention and went on to influence a whole generation of designs with repercussions to this day.

Below is an overview of some of these displays. This is not meant to be a conclusive list but, rather, an impression.

The Great Diamonds

On proud display were two of the greatest diamonds ever discovered. The 280 carat Koh-i-Noor, meaning the ‘Mountain of Light’, was, in 1851, the world’s largest known diamond. It was acquired in 1850 as part of the Lahore Treaty. Also on display was the Daria-i-Noor, one of the rare pale pink diamonds in the world. It was 177 carats.

These stupendous diamonds must have been a breathtaking sight for the average Victorian who would not necessarily have been exposed to diamonds in their everyday life, let alone ones of this size. The effect must have been to spur on a greater desire for diamonds in the general populace.

 

A.W.N. Pugin’s Medieval Court

The designer A.W.N. Pugin presented a ‘medieval court’ complete with fixtures, furnishings, art and fine textiles.

Pugin’s ‘Medieval Court’.

Pugin’s ‘Medieval Court’.

 

As part of this breathtaking display he also presented a range of jewellery resplendent with gothic and ecclesiastical motifs, blue and green enamel work, pearlsturquoise and cabochon garnets in medieval style settings along with quatre-foils and other architectural inspired details. This line of jewellery appealed to the romantic nature of the Victorians who were in love with a perceived lost history, the novels of Sir Walter Scott and the notion of honour and courtly love. Pugin’s range caused an explosive revival in enamelling techniques and medieval influenced styles.

Pugin Brooch A. W. Pugin, born 1812 – died 1852 V&A museum

Pugin Brooch A. W. Pugin, born 1812 – died 1852 V&A museum

 

George Waterhouse’s Celtic Revival

The early 8th-century Tara Brooch, discovered in 1850, was the finest known Irish penannular brooch. It was exhibited by the Dublin jeweller George Waterhouse along with a display of his fashionable Celtic Revival jewellery. These Celtic Revival designs would have appealed to the romantic nature of the Victorians and their reverence for the perceived beauty of the deep past.

This line of jewellery went on to inspire generations of Celtic influenced styles. Queen Victorian presentation of gifts of Scottish Jewellery at the Exhibition’s  Opening Ball gave further impetus to this trend.

Drawing of the Tara Brooch

Drawing of the Tara Brooch

Wedgewood Cameos

Wedgewood, of course, is famous for his jasperware cameos. Even though they began to be produced in 1769, they were showcased at the Great Exhibition and catapulted to popularity as a way to bring relatively inexpensive cameo jewellery and the neo-classical styles to a those who had previously only been able to admire from afar.

Wedgewood Cameos.

Wedgewood Cameos.

Sunar Indian Jewellery

Gold ornaments and silver enamelled handicrafts fabricated by the Sunar caste from Sind, British India, were given much attention. These exotic and ornate pieces went on to inspire a taste for Indian influenced jewellery and ornamentation that continues to this day.

Sunar ornaments.

Sunar ornaments.

Gutta Percha

It was at the Great Exhibition that the rubber gum based material Gutta Percha made its debut with a diverse range of products displayed by The Gutta Percha Company.Gutta Percha was one of the first natural plastics, a lightweight, adaptable material which became popular for jewellery in the 1850s and throughout the 1860s and 1870s.

The Crystal Place catalogue of 1851 had this definition, ‘The Isonandra Gutta, the source of the gum, known as gutta percha, one of the most useful substances introduced into the arts during the present century.’

Gutta Percha Brooch

Gutta Percha Brooch

Primitive Jewellery

There were many pieces of jewellery on display crafted by pre-technological peoples from far-flung locations. These exotic materials and simple designs certainly went on to have a great influence on the styles of the era.

Shell Necklace, Displayed at the Great Exhibition, 1851. Oyster Cove, Tasmania, before 1851. Trustees of the British Museum.

Shell Necklace, Displayed at the Great Exhibition, 1851. Oyster Cove, Tasmania, before 1851. Trustees of the British Museum.

Devaranne’s Cast Iron

Devaranne is recorded in 1828 as a manufacturer of cast-iron wares and in 1850 as owner of a cast-iron foundry. In 1825 he was asked to supply cast-iron wares for a Parisian firm of goldsmiths. He showed cast-iron jewellery at the Great Exhibition in 1851 (Art Journal illustrated Catalogue, 1851, p. 37).

Devaranne Cast Iron Brooch.

Devaranne Cast Iron Brooch.

Nature Motifs

Also in evidence were many floral and nature themed motifs as the Victorian movement of ‘Naturalism’ emerged as a counterbalance to the growth in industry and technology.

The Art-Journal Illustrated Catalogue said, ‘The taste for floral ornament in jewellery has been very prevalent of late and it’s a good and happy taste, inasmuch as an enamelled leaf or floret of brilliant colour is an excellent foil to a sparkling stone. We have scarcely seen the designs for jewellery at any period more tasteful, elegant, and appropriate than they are at the present day.’

Plate 24. Group of jewellery selected from the costly and elegant assortment exhibited by Messrs. Hunt and Roskell. Jewellery in the Great Exhibition from the 1851 Illustrated London News.

Plate 24. Group of jewellery selected from the costly and elegant assortment exhibited by Messrs. Hunt and Roskell. Jewellery in the Great Exhibition from the 1851 Illustrated London News.

As an interesting side note – William Morris, the renowned British Arts and Crafts philosopher and designer, is reported to have visited the Great Exhibition and been appalled by what he saw. He found the technology ‘dehumanising and ugly’. The exhibition was, no doubt, an impetus for him as he developed his anti-industrialisation philosophy and iconic designs.

For many others, The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a source of inspiration that continues to this day.

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Other Reading / Sources

http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/g/great-exhibition/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Exhibition

http://www.victorianweb.org/art/design/jewelry/gere/3.html

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/100717

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=81341&partId=1

http://victorianweb.org/history/1851/20.html

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O74972/brooch-a-w-pugin/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tara_Brooch

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=OfMHAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA123&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4

Natural Materials

The wide variety and beauty of the natural materials used in vintage and antique jewellery is staggering. It seems jewellery designers never cease in their inventiveness. Here is a list which I believe is comprehensive or almost comprehensive (there is bound to be something I have left out).

I have excluded metal as that seems to deserve it's own separate list. 

Art Deco Amber Earring. Elder & Bloom

Art Deco Amber Earring. Elder & Bloom

 

Amber

Animal parts (ie Rabbit Foot)

Bog Oak

Bone

Butterflies and insects

Cinnabar

Coral

Flower and Plants

Gems & Gemstones

Hair

Horn

Ivory

Jade

Jet

Marcasite

Pearl

Sea Shell

Stone (Mosaics)

Tortoise Shell

Tooth

Tusk

Wood

Victorian Coral Earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian Coral Earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Tortoise Shell
19th and early 20th century tortoise shell objects Christie’s Sale 2811

19th and early 20th century tortoise shell objects
Christie’s Sale 2811

Tortoise shell objects are made from the outer blades covering the upper shell of the Hawksbill turtle and the Loggerhead turtle.  Fortunately, it has been illegal to produce tortoise shell jewelry since the 1970s.  The beauty and rarity of real Tortoise Shell is, for me, tempered by its sad history.  In order to buy or sell Tortoise Shell legally, it must be at least a hundred years old and a genuine antique, or to have originated from a private collection (for example, if you get left some Tortoise Shell jewelry as an inheritance). But do double check the laws in your own country as they differ.

Testing Tortoise Shell.  

Other materials such as celluloid, Lucite, Bakelite, horn, bone and plastic can all be mistaken for tortoiseshell, especially if looking at pictures alone.  In order to identify genuine Tortoise Shell, apply a hot pin to a hidden spot - if the resulting smell is similar to burned hair and a black spot is left, it is likely to be Tortoise Shell.  If there is a plastic smell it is not Tortoise Shell. You can also run it under hot water to see if it gives off a plastic smell.  Another way to tell is have a look at the markings - real Tortoise Shell is not regular in it’s marking and will have a distinctive luminosity when held to the light.  There will also be a slight unevenness to it that cannot be found in molded materials.  Upon close inspection, one can often see fine knife marks where the tortoiseshell was carved by hand.

Colors

Most Tortoise Shell is the dark brown or reddish-brown variety with translucent amber high-lights but it can also be a uniform dark brown with no amber. Generally speaking, the older and more well worn the piece, the darker the Tortoise Shell, even appearing quite black in very old pieces. Tortoise Shell can also bethe ‘Blonde’ or ‘Demi-Blonde’ variety in which case it will not be dark, but will still darken with age.  Blonde Tortoiseshell is rarer and is considered more valuable and can range from an even pale yellow to a deep amber color. Tortoise Shell can also be stained different colors.

A GEORGE III GREEN-STAINED TORTOISESHELL TEA CADDYChristie’s sale 6853

A GEORGE III GREEN-STAINED TORTOISESHELL TEA CADDYChristie’s sale 6853

AN ENGLISH BLONDE TORTOISESHELL DRESSING TABLE SET     Christie’s Sale 4888    

AN ENGLISH BLONDE TORTOISESHELL DRESSING TABLE SET  
Christie’s Sale 4888

 

A SPANISH COLONIAL TORTOISESHELL AND SILVER MOUNTED DOMED CASKET 18th century Christie’s Sale 4607

A SPANISH COLONIAL TORTOISESHELL AND SILVER MOUNTED DOMED CASKET 18th century
Christie’s Sale 4607

Uses

Tortoise Shell is very pliable and can be formed into many shapes with heat. It can also be carved and inlaid (piqué). Tortoise Shell was a very popular material throughout the 18th, 19th and first part of the 20th century.  It had an enormous variety of uses in jewelry, household objects and accessories. 

Here are some examples below:

Hair Ornaments

Fans

Bangles

Brooches

Boxes

Cigarette Holders

Dog Collars

Dressing Table Sets and Traveling Boxes

Canes

Card Cases

Necessaires and étui

Glasses and Lorgnettes

Piqué

One of the most popular uses for tortoise shell was piqué, which involved the delicate inlay of gold and silver. Every type of jewelry, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings and brooches, were produced throughout the Victorian era with this fine technique.

Sources / further reading:

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Tortoise_Shell

http://www.ebay.com/gds/TORTOISESHELL-Real-or-fake-How-to-tell-the-difference/10000000012067858/g.html

http://www.conservation-housekeeping.co.uk/blog/24-antique-tortoiseshell-ivory-bone-a-mother-of-pearl

http://www.nre.gov.my/Biodiversity/BioD%20Knowledge/CITES_Briefcase-10_Tortoiseshell_Identification.pdf

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mosaics

Most mosaic jewelry has traditionally always come from Italy, particularly Rome and Florence, but it also comes from Switzerland and Naples. Even as early as the 18th century, visitors to Italy purchased micro-mosaic jewelry as souvenirs. It became a status symbol in other parts of Europe and America to prove a trip to Italy and mosaic jewelry would sometimes even be sent home ahead as a kind of postcard. With its roots in ancient architectural techniques, micro-mosaic jewelry was verypopular in Europe and the Americas throughout the 18th and 19th century and is still produced today, being considered a cultural treasure worthy of protection by the Italian people.

Generally, the finer and smaller the mosaics are, the older the piece.  Particularly after Industrialization, the mosaic pieces became much larger and less refined. The best way of telling the age of the piece however is to look at the mounting.

Mosaic jewelry can be divided into two basic kinds: 

1) ‘Micro-mosaic’.  Here the jewelryis inlaid with a design made of small pieces of colored glass tube shaped tiles or tesserae on a glass or stone background, usually fixed with cement.  (These small pieces can also sometimes be made from metal, marble or stone although not as often).  When the glass tubes are cut into tiny pieces they are referred to as smalti. In the finest pieces, the design is created with thousands of very tiny colored smalti with no gaps in between. When the smalti  is more than one color, it is referred to as ‘millefiori’ or “1000 flowers”. The expression ‘Millefiori’ is sometimes used to describe ‘micro-mosaic’.  The glass for micro-mosaic is usually produced in Venice. Micro-mosaic jewelry has traditionally been produced in Rome. Micro-mosaic is actually a form of pontillism (using dots of color). It is a considered a derivative of the Roman Opus Vermiculatum mosaic style.

Micro-mosaic, black glass, gold frame brooch, Rome, Italy, 1820-1830   The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Micro-mosaic, black glass, gold frame brooch, Rome, Italy, 1820-1830
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

2) ‘Pietra dura’ or ‘Pietre dure’ jewelry, literally meaning ‘hard stone’, is also sometimes referred to as Florentine. Here hard stones such as chalcedony, agate, marble, jasper, and lapis lazuli, are laid flat to create the design. Rather than being a true mosaic, pietra dura is actually created more like a jigsaw puzzle. Pietra dura is traditionally produced in Florence. Pietra dura normally uses black marble as the foundation. Florentine designs normally use larger tiles than Roman micro-mosaic. Pietra dura is thought to be derived from the Roman opus sectile mosaic style.  Popular during the Renaissance era, pietra dura enjoyed a revival throughout the 19th century.

Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold.   The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold.
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Mosaic work jewellery of the 18th and 19th century often depicted famous Italian tourist attractions such as the Vatican Square as well as scenes from Roman mythology. Well-to-do travelers during the Grand Tour Era in which a trip to Italy was obligatory, would sometimes commission their own designs, favoring animals and famous paintings. Later in the 19th century and in modern recent time, designs become simpler and bolder and more decorative rather than figurative.  The value of the piece is greatly determined not only by the fineness of the mosaic work, but also by the base metal. There are many later pieces on the market which do not have a great value, although they are still attractive.

Generally, the Italian jewelry artisans most considered to have been responsible for the development and introduction of Italian mosaic jewelry were Giacomo Raffaelli, who created a micro-mosaic brooch in the 1770s, and Castellini who pioneered a new style for mosaics using gold wires to separate the pieces in 1850.

Doves of Pliny micro-mosaic, attributed to   Giacomo Raffaelli  , circa 1770

Doves of Pliny micro-mosaic, attributed to Giacomo Raffaelli, circa 1770

 

Sources / further reading:

http://www.micro-mosaic.com/

http://romanmicromosaic.com/

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Mosaics_in_Jewelry

http://www.dipintiantichi.net/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietra_dura

http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/opificio_delle_pietre_dure.html

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Castellani  

 

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cameo

Cameo can be defined as a method of carving which creates a raised or positive design (as opposed to intaglio which is the opposite).   Cameos can be done in stone, gemstone, amber, coral, ivory, bone, lava, glass or shell.  Very early cameos (before 1800) were nearly always done in stone, particularly banded agate (also referred to as ‘hardstone’) which creates the contrast in colors between the raised part of the design and the background.  Other stones used in cameo are cornelian, malachite, jet, sardonyx and onyx. Black Helmet, Bulls Mouth, Horned Helmet and Queen’s Conches are the kinds of shells traditionally used for cameo. Italy has long been associated with cameo.

Castellani Cameo of Medusa, c.1870.  Sapphire.

Castellani Cameo of Medusa, c.1870.  Sapphire.

Trustees of the British Museum.

When discussing antique and period jewelry, the term cameo normally implies that there is a contrast in color between the relief portion of the design and the background; however the term cameo is also used to describe this style of carving even when the raised portion and the background are the same color.

Cameo carving is an ancient technique which has experienced many revivals throughout the ages.  A new interest in cameo came about in the early 1800s, inspired by all the archeological discoveries.  Around 1805, the Pope of the time opened up a new cameo school in Rome and Napoleon I had initiated a ‘Prix de Rome’ to encourage cameo.  By the year 1850, cameo had reached a new height of popularity and people flocked to have their portraits, or those of a loved one, carved as a cameo.  The best cameo artisans came from Italy and when the Victorians went on their Grand Tour, they often brought back these treasures much to the delight of their friends and families back home.  Italian cameo artists, often struggling sculptors, soon moved across Europe to open up small businesses to supply the demand. Cameo work was painstaking and slow.  A stone cameo could take many months; shell cameos were faster to produce and therefore were less expensive.

Commesso: Commesso is a bas-relief composition of precisely cut gem materials (pietra dura) combined with enameled gold elements to form an assembled cameo.

Habille (or 'en habille'): a cameo in which the carved figure wears real jewelry. “Habille” comes from the French word “habiller”, meaning “to dress”.

Christie’s Sale 7853   Jewels – The London Sale   9 June 2010   London, King Street   A VICTORIAN MOONSTONE AND DIAMOND CAMEO BROOCH, circa 1890.  Cupid with bow and arrow.

Christie’s Sale 7853
Jewels – The London Sale
9 June 2010
London, King Street
A VICTORIAN MOONSTONE AND DIAMOND CAMEO BROOCH, circa 1890.  Cupid with bow and arrow.

Neoclassical themes, particularly busts and figures, were very much in style and many cameos of the Victorian era have this motif.By the time 1860 came around, another popular motif was ‘Rebecca at the Well’ which is from a biblical story. Taking different forms, it always comprised a girl, a bridge and a cottage. Other motifs were naturalistic and included flowers and leaves. Commemorative cameos of special events such as weddings were also popular.

William Tassie, who invented glass paste in the 1760s, began to create molds of cameos and reproduce them in glass.  He had an enormous collection of impressions of antique cameos and many credit him with being a key participant in the Neo-Classical revival. These imitation cameos were known as ‘Tassies’ and were popular and inexpensive.  This production continued as a family business well into the 1800s.

Detail from a ‘Tassie’ cameo

Detail from a ‘Tassie’ cameo

Wedgwood bought many of these molds from William Tassie. Wedgwood produced and still produces jasperware plaques in blue and white which are in the style of cameo and are also often referred to as cameo.  In fact, many people will think of these as being the archetype of cameo. However, these are not true cameo as they are made from molds.  There were quite inexpensive in their day; they are nowadays considered collectible.

Cameo was also loved by the artisans and designers of the Art Nouveau movement and continued in the Art Deco era.

With the advent of Industrialization, many ‘cameos’ could be produced with molds, with dyed agate layers and later with ultrasonic machine carving. (In my opinion, this is why many people today don’t admire cameo or think of them as desirable, they are associating them with the mass-produced, machine made or mold made variety). Cameo continues to be produced and loved today to one degree or another.  However, the artistry, technique and popularity of cameo that was experienced in earlier eras, particularly in the pre-industrial Georgian and the early and mid Victorian era, (as well as by a few eminent Art Nouveau artists),  has not been seen since.

Dating and Valuing Cameos

There are many clues to look for when dating and valuing cameos and these are just a few below. Evaluating cameos is challenging as so many have been remounted and also many cameo artists were really good at copying older styles.  Some experts devote their careers to appraising cameos and it requires great skill.   I will come back and add more to this list as I learn more.

Style: If the cameo features a long Roman nose, the chances are it is from before 1850 and if it has a more pert nose, it is likely to be afterwards.  Up-swept hair suggests late Victorian; short hair would imply 20th century.

Materials: If it is made from lava, it is almost certainly Victorian.  Shells are also not likely to be from before 1800 (shell is translucent when held to the light). If it is jet, it is likely to be mid-Victorian and later.

Mounting: If the mounting is made of pinchbeck, it will probably be from between the mid-1700s to mid-1800s. If it is gold electroplated it will be from after 1840.  If it is 9k, will be from after 1854.  Silver implies it is from the 1880s, but certainly not necessarily so.  A safety clasp implies it is from the 20th century. (But take into consideration that it might well have been remounted).

Value: Scenic cameos are often considered to be more valuable than simple portraits. Stone is considered more valuable than shell.  Obviously, ivory, coral and gemstones are the most valuable. Of course, the mounting is important.  Most important of all though is the fineness of the carving; fine detail, flowing lines and grace show skill.  Less skilled cameos with be harsher with jagged lines and with less details.

Authenticity / method of creation:  Things to watch out for are whether or not it is mold made / where it is actually two pieces glued together / laser cut (in which case it is modern). All of these are best examined with jeweler’s loop.  Ultrasonic machine made cameos will have no undercutting and a satin surface texture. There will be absolutely no variation between them and many others of the same design. Dyed agate will show very strong color contrast between the layers.

Other: if it is signed it is probably from after the mid-1800s. However, it doesn’t mean that if it isn’t signed it is older than the mid-1800s.

Sources / further reading:

http://www.cameojewelry.com/catalog/ANTIQUE_CAMEOS-1-1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebecca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Tour

https://www.antiquesjournal.com/pages04/archives/cameos.html

http://www.antiquecolouredglass.info/History%20of%20Tassie.htm

http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/gems/tassie/default.htm

https://www.antiquesjournal.com/pages04/archives/cameos.html

https://www.langsantiques.com/university/index.php/Georgian_and_Victorian_Cameos

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/semi-precious-carvings/  

 

Copyright © 2017 by Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder & Bloom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this website’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder & Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.