Posts tagged art deco jewelry
Jewellery of the 1925 Paris Exhibition
Words found in an exhibition catalog read,  ‘France owes it to herself to prove to the world that her artists, craftsmen and manufacturers have not lost their innovative ingenuity, the quality of balance and logic, especially allied to gifts of grace and fantasy, that have earned her, in the past, a universal sovereignty surer and more durable than that which flows from the power of arms.’

Words found in an exhibition catalog read, ‘France owes it to herself to prove to the world that her artists, craftsmen and manufacturers have not lost their innovative ingenuity, the quality of balance and logic, especially allied to gifts of grace and fantasy, that have earned her, in the past, a universal sovereignty surer and more durable than that which flows from the power of arms.’

The Paris 1925 Exhibition was an international exhibition devoted to the decorative arts. With it was born the spread of the movement which we now know as 'Art Deco'.

Style Moderne

The Paris Exhibition was France's demonstration to the world that it continued to be the greatest nation as far as the applied arts were concerned and, in particular, fashion and luxury goods. Britain and Italy also played leading roles at the exhibition. Germany and the USA were conspicuously absent.

Modernism and originality were emphasised. The term 'Art Deco' was not coined until the 1960s. At the time, people thought of the Art Deco style as simply 'modern or contemporary' style or 'style moderne'.

Henry Wilson, a British Jeweller, described the exhibit as follows: ' There was very much that was new in the French Section of Jewellery, and much that was very beautiful. Jade, black onyx and enamel were freely used to give contrast and richness.   Rainbow effects of the prismatic colours natural to coloured gems were much sought after, and the combinations in most cases were rich and beautiful.   In fact, colour was being sought instead of mere brilliance. In addition to this there was a tendency towards oriental effects in design. [It was] derived possibly from the use of oriental carved stones as centres of ornament.’

Henry Wilson, a British Jeweller, described the exhibit as follows: 'There was very much that was new in the French Section of Jewellery, and much that was very beautiful. Jade, black onyx and enamel were freely used to give contrast and richness. Rainbow effects of the prismatic colours natural to coloured gems were much sought after, and the combinations in most cases were rich and beautiful. In fact, colour was being sought instead of mere brilliance. In addition to this there was a tendency towards oriental effects in design. [It was] derived possibly from the use of oriental carved stones as centres of ornament.’

Designers 

Three design companies were prominent at the exhibit. These were: Cartier, Després and Van Cleef & Arpels. All of these companies are now considered defining forces behind the Art Deco style.  At the exhibit, Van Cleef & Arpels won a grand prix for a half-open rose in diamond-studed rubies and emeralds. Cartier, however, had the highest status, showing their work separately from the other designers in the Pavillon de l’Élégance, instead of in the main Grand Palais. Other companies were Fouquet, Chaumet, Dusausoy, Lacloche Frères, Linseler & Machack, Boivin, Mauboussin, Mellerio and Ostertag. Jewellery artists included Raymond Templier, Paul-Émile Brant and Gérard.

Materials

Platinum and chromium-plated metal made a strong appearance in keeping with the theme of 'modernism'.  Other popular materials included rubies, onyx, lacquered silver, jade, enamel, rock crystal, gold, lapis lazuli and diamonds. Flattened silver necklaces were presented by Després. Emeralds were showcased in the form of a spectacular shoulder necklace by Cartier with a matching diadem and brooch. It incorporated three enormous Mughal emeralds. (It remained unsold as it seemed it was too lavish to be worn by anyone.)

The Cartier Timken necklace, designed in 1925. It is one of the most important examples of Cartier jewellery from the Art Deco era. It is set with three rare Mughal emeralds carved on the front and reverse weighing 71.91ct, 30.27ct and 29.21ct, sapphire beads, buff-top cabochon sapphires, emerald beads and diamonds

The Cartier Timken necklace, designed in 1925. It is one of the most important examples of Cartier jewellery from the Art Deco era. It is set with three rare Mughal emeralds carved on the front and reverse weighing 71.91ct, 30.27ct and 29.21ct, sapphire beads, buff-top cabochon sapphires, emerald beads and diamonds

Monochrome and Pavé

Black and white jewellery was prevalent, in particular Cartier pieces of pavé diamonds and dyed onyx. This showcasing of pavé went on to greatly influence costume jewellery styles. Monochrome styles continue to be strongly associated with Art Deco. 

Dyed bone inlay and brass Art Deco theatre bag. Elder and Bloom. 

Dyed bone inlay and brass Art Deco theatre bag. Elder and Bloom. 

Islamic Influences

Stars and geometrical themes were featured.

Chinese Influences

Dragons, chimeras, Buddhas and pagodas made a strong appearance. 

Art Deco silk theatre purse with Chinese motifs. Elder and Bloom. 

Art Deco silk theatre purse with Chinese motifs. Elder and Bloom. 

Egyptian Influences

Falcons, lotus flowers, snakes and winged female figures were showcased. 

Art Deco Snake Bangle. Elder and Bloom. 

Art Deco Snake Bangle. Elder and Bloom. 

Carved Gemstones

Baskets of fruits and flowers made from carved gemstones dazzled the exhibition visitors. (See also 'Tutti Fruitti.')

In Conclusion

The Paris 1925 Exposition has gone on to be considered the apex of Art Deco style and has forever brought French design to the forefront of the applied arts. How marvellous it must have been for those who love beauty and style to stroll past those dazzling exhibitions! Because of the 1925 Paris Exposition Art Deco design spread throughout the world and has continued in its immense popularity to this day with no sign of abatement. 

See also: https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/03/12/art-deco-motifs/

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See also: https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/03/12/art-deco-motifs/

© 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.

 

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.

Bakelite Test
Bakelite bangle. Elder and Bloom. 

Bakelite bangle. Elder and Bloom. 

 

Testing for Bakelite is remarkably easy.  To put it quite simply: all you have to do is get some silver polish containing simichrome and rub it on the piece using a paper towel.  If the paper towel shows a yellow color, it is Bakelite.  If it doesn’t, it is not.  (There are some exceptions to this, such as black Bakelite, which may not show positive results).

What I like about this test is I don’t have to try and identify the subtle differences in smells when the piece is run under hot water.  I don’t know about you, but I find those kinds of test very difficult.  I think I have a decent sense of smell, but the moment I over-think it I can’t tell the subtle differences in smells of different plastics – I am a human, after all, not a sniffer dog!

However - sometimes dark coloured Bakelite will not show positive results with this test. In this case, if you run the piece under very hot water for a few seconds and then smell, it should smell quite strongly like nail polish if it is genuine Bakelite. If it has neither the correct odour nor positive results with the simichrome test, then it isn't Bakelite. 

It’s worthwhile knowing how to recognise Bakelite is becoming increasingly sought after and rare and has considerably more value than other plastics, whether it’s used in jewelry or other objects. It can also be remarkably lovely.

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.