Posts tagged vintage jewelry
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

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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 Edwardian Era
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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.

 

Antique Jewelry Care
Victorian garnet gold earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

Victorian garnet gold earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique and vintage jewelry requires extra care in its storage, cleaning and wear. Below you will find some tips to preserve your pieces in the best condition possible.

1) Never use ultrasonic cleaners as these type of machines can cause damage to delicate pieces.

2) Store in a cotton lined box or soft pouch, away from direct sunlight. 

3) Store in dry, humidity free areas without extremes of heat.

4) Keep pieces separated so they do not scratch each other. 

5) Never store in air-tight, plastic bags.

6) Put perfume, lotions and other cosmetics on before you put your jewellery on. 

7) Bleach and chlorine can cause damage so never wear when cleaning the house, showering or swimming. 

8) Use a soft polishing cloth to prevent tarnishing of silver jewellery. 

9) Be cautious when using chemical dip solutions as they can strip away patina and cause damage. 

10) Make certain that any foil backed jewellery (i.e. Georgian or early Victorian pieces) stay dry. Always remove before washing your hands etc. Even a little bit of moisture can damage these kinds of pieces. 

11) Lockets containing photos and hair should be kept away from all water.

12) If you notice any loose stones or if the prongs seem to catch on things take it to the jewellers for evaluation. 

13) Always make certain that all jewellery is completely dry before being stored. 

CLEANING

Most metal based antique jewellery can be cleaned with warm water, mild detergent and a very soft toothbrush. A soft silver polishing is an excellent choice, as well as a soft dry brush. A loupe or magnifying glass can help you see the dirt and grime in hidden places. If you do feel the need to use a chemical, a very small amount of Windex sprayed onto a cloth, never directly onto the piece, can be used with caution. 

Extra care should be taken with the following materials: 

1) Pearls are very sensitive to oils, chemicals and moisture. Never get your pearls wet. Store them as flat as possible. 

2) Turquoise, Lapis, Malachite are porous and should be kept away from all oils and chemicals. They are also easily scratched.  

3) Butterfly Wings are easily damaged and should be kept dry and away from moisture and all chemicals. Any contact with water or chemicals can ruin a butterfly wing if it gets inside the casing.  To clean the casing, use a dry polishing cloth.

4) Cut Steel is easily damaged by moisture of any kind and will rust.  Use a soft brush to clean. 

5) Micromosaic or Pietra Dura should be kept dry and stored separately.  Clean with a soft, dry brush and watch out for loose stones. 

6) Cameos should be gently cleaned with a soft, dry cloth. 

7) Portrait Miniatures can be gently wiped with a soft cloth.  

8) Ivory, Coral, Tortoiseshell and Amber are all particularly sensitive to direct sunlight, oils and chemicals.   

9) Enamel can be chipped so always store with great care. Use a silver polishing cloth to clean. 

10) Hair Work is prone to breakage. Always store with great care and never attempt to clean hair work jewellery. 

 

 

Jugendstil

Jugendstil was an artistic style or design movement that arose in Germany around the mid-1890s and continued until at least the end of 1910. The movement also spread throughout the other German speaking and Nordic countries.

It appeared to originate from the Berlin Werkstatte – the collectives of artisans and craftspeople that flourished during the era.  The name ‘Jugendstil’ literally means Youth Style and derives from the Munich magazine Die Jugend (‘Youth’).

An image from Jugend Magazine. It was filled with art such as this.

An image from Jugend Magazine. It was filled with art such as this.

With the Jugendstil design sensibilities there came a reverence for youth, for nudity and a more liberated sexuality, for all things ‘natural and free’. Women wore their hair long and flowing, corsets were ditched and a general joie de vivre was embraced by all.  (I have always maintained that these naturalistic movements of the late 1800s were a precursor to the 1960s American cultural revolution).

There were two somewhat distinct phases in Jugendstil. Prior to 1900, the designs tended to be floral and to be more influenced by Art Nouveau and Japanese design, as well as more Victorian in flavour.

Early Jugendstil Brooch. Elder and Bloom. 

Early Jugendstil Brooch. Elder and Bloom. 

Later, came a more abstract and architectural phase, at times machine like, pre-echoing by over a decade the geometrical designs of the Art Deco era. (This later phase was greatly influenced by the Belgian architect Henry van de Velde.)

Late Jugendstil Brooch. Elder and Bloom. 

Late Jugendstil Brooch. Elder and Bloom. 

Jugendstil is a cousin of the English Art Nouveau movement and certainly has much in common with the Arts and Crafts movement. Although often referred to as the ‘German Art Nouveau’ (even by myself), Jugendstil is quite distinctive and is also compelling in its originality and character.

Sources / further reading:

https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/03/15/international-names-for-art-nouveau/

https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/02/17/the-female-form-in-art-nouveau-jewelry/

https://beautifulantiquetreasures.com/2013/02/13/the-art-nouveau-whiplash-motif/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henry-van-de-Velde

© 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.

Earring Styles

Below, you will seven styles of earrings commonly found in antique and vintage jewellery. (In a previous article, I discussed how to age earrings by the  findings. )

Stud earrings

Stud earrings became popular in the late 1800s but fell out of use when ears stopped being pierced in the early 1900s. They became popular again in the early 1960s and continue in popularity to this day.

Gold, diamond and silver stud earrings. England, late 18th century. V&A Museum

Gold, diamond and silver stud earrings. England, late 18th century. V&A Museum

3.50 Carat European Cut Diamond Stud Earrings, c. 1900. Photo courtesy of LangAntiques.com (Note the ‘threaded posts’ - these can be indicative of a finer piece). 

3.50 Carat European Cut Diamond Stud Earrings, c. 1900. Photo courtesy of LangAntiques.com (Note the ‘threaded posts’ - these can be indicative of a finer piece). 

Button Earrings

This type of round or domed earring with no dangling element first became popular in the 1930s. Earlier examples tend to have screw backs whereas those from the 1950s and 1960s tend to be clip-ons. From the mid-1960s onwards some button earrings were also produced for pierced ears.

Vintage Angel Skin Coral clip on button earrings. Elder and Bloom

Vintage Angel Skin Coral clip on button earrings. Elder and Bloom

Top and Drop Earrings

This is a style of earrings which has two sections, usually round or oval.  The two sections normally match and the bottom section is normally the largest.  The top section usually hangs just below the lobe except when there is a pierced post and then it might sit on the lobe itself. The style has been around for centuries but is associated with the Georgian era as it was so popular in that era.

When the bottom section is detachable, these are known as day to night earrings as they can be converted for daytime or evening attire.

Antique gold and coral ‘Top and Drop’ earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Antique gold and coral ‘Top and Drop’ earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Pendeloque Earrings

This is a style which began in the 1800s. It is similar to the Top and Drop earring  style, but the two sections are connected by a third central section, designed as a bow.

Pendeloque gold filigree and pearl earrings. Salamanca 1800-1870. V&A Museum.

Pendeloque gold filigree and pearl earrings. Salamanca 1800-1870. V&A Museum.

Girandole Earrings

This is a style which has three dangling elements with the central element usually being the largest or hanging lower than the other two elements.  The style first appeared around 1700 in France but is often associated with the decade of 1870 as it experienced enormous popularity during the Rococo Revival of that period.

Antique gold and coral Spanish Girandole earrings.

Antique gold and coral Spanish Girandole earrings.

Drop Earrings

This is a very popular style which consists of a single element attached to the finding.

Victorian drop earrings with À jour settings. Elder and Bloom.

Victorian drop earrings with À jour settings. Elder and Bloom.

Chandelier Earrings

This is a style of earring which has tiers of dangling elements, resembling a chandelier. They are often associated with the Mid-Victorian era.

Queen Letizia of Spain wearing chandelier style earrings.

Queen Letizia of Spain wearing chandelier style earrings.

© 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.

À jour

À jour is a term used in jewellery manufacturing which describes an open backed setting that allows the light to shine through the gemstone, enhancing the scintillation, brightness and colour. À jour settings are not found prior to 1800 when nearly all gems were mounted with closed backs.

The term à jour is from the French word for ‘day’.

 

Victorian earrings with  à jour  settings

Victorian earrings with à jour settings

Please note: Plique à jour is a type of enamelling that incorporates an open background which is filled with transparent enamel.

© 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.

 

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

Onyx

Onyx, with its sleek and glossy beauty, has long been sought after for use in jewellery. It  is often thought of as being pure black but in reality it is usually banded white and black or banded white and brown.  It can come in a variety of other colours, such as shades of white, green and red, but these colours are not generally found in jewellery usage.

Onyx is a variety of chalcedony. It can be differentiated from agate because the bands in onyx are parallel whereas in agate they are curved. Onyx is cool to the touch, quite heavy and has a highly polished and glossy finish.  For this reason, it can sometimes be confused with French Jet. 

The demand for pure black onyx has traditionally outstripped the supply so most all black onyx is dyed.  This is why most black onyx has such an even finish. A trained eye can tell the difference between dyed and natural onyx under a loupe by looking for uneven surface colour.

Victorian Era

Black onyx was particularly revered by the Victorians, especially during the Grand Era 1861-1880. The Victorians of this era loved all black materials and the fashion of wearing mourning styles went far beyond that which was necessary.  They created a wide variety of jewellery items from all black onyx, including lockets, pendants, brooches and earrings. They also mixed it with coral, turquoise, seed pearls and rubies.

Victorian onyx and rose gold earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Victorian onyx and rose gold earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Art Deco Era

Black onyx was also especially beloved in the Art Deco era as the stone lent itself to the bold and stark minimalism of the Machine Aesthetic. Jewellery designers used contrasting materials such as coral, jade or diamonds to further accentuate the beauty of the black.

[caption id="attachment_5829" align="aligncenter" width="564"] Art Deco Diamond, Jade, Platinum and Onyx earrings. 1stdibs[/caption]

Theodor Fahrner was a well known Art Deco designer who used onyx in many designs.

Cameo

Onyx is also one of the most popular materials for cameo as the bands are ideal for creating contrasting relief images. Sardonyx is the name for the brown and white banded variety of onyx that is often used for cameo and intaglio.

Sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Augustus. British Museum.

Sardonyx cameo portrait of the Emperor Augustus. British Museum.

© 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:

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

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

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/fine-jewelry/onyx

 

Birthstones

These gems have life in them:  their colors speak, say what words fail of.  ~George Eliot

A birthstone is a gemstone that is said to represent a specific birth month. Gemstones have long been thought to contain meaning and power and these properties are said to be accentuated when worn by someone born in the corresponding month.

The idea of birthstones is thought to have been inspired by the story of Aaron in Exodus who wore twelve gemstones in his breastplate representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve gemstones came later to represent the twelve months of the year in popular culture.

The allocations of birthstones have fluctuated throughout history and vary according to region, country and source. There is also debate concerning the names of gemstones throughout history and how these relate to the gems we know today (obviously, there are no lab records so we cannot always verify which precise gemstone was being referred to).

According to the American Gemological Association, the following are the agreed upon birthstones. These allocations have been consistent since 1912, with Tanzanite being recently added for December. In brackets beneath some of these, I have put some other even more traditional correlating stones.

JANUARY

Garnet

FEBRUARY

Amethyst

(Pearl)

MARCH

Aquamarine

(Bloodstone or Red, Yellow, Orange or Brown Zircon possibly referred to as Jacinth or Hyacinth in ancient times).

APRIL

Diamond

MAY

Emerald

JUNE

Pearl  

Alexandrite

(Agate or Cat’s Eye)

JULY

Ruby

(Coral)

AUGUST

Peridot
Sardonyx
Spinel

(Moonstone)

SEPTEMBER

Sapphire

(Chrysolite)

OCTOBER

Tourmaline
Opal

NOVEMBER

Topaz
Citrine

DECEMBER

Turquoise
Tanzanite
Zircon

Please also see my previous post ‘The Language of Stones’ where I discuss the tradition of ‘acrostic’ jewellery.

© 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.

Cartier Collections - Trinity de Cartier

Trinity de Cartier

The Cartier Trinity Ring is a signature design of the world renowned Parisian jewellery company (1847 - Present). It was first created in 1924 by Louis Cartier. The beautiful interlocking white, yellow and pink gold bands have since gone on to inspire many other Cartier pieces, including bangles and necklaces, incorporating the same basic interlocking design. 

The ring was adopted by the French artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau and has been favoured by many other high profile people. At the time, the simplicity of the design was in juxtaposition to the more outlandish Flapper aesthetic. 

The three bands of the Trinity design are said to represent whatever the wearer chooses but  'Fidelity, Friendship and Love.' is one popular interpretation. 

Sources / further reading:

https://uk.pinterest.com/explore/trinity-ring/?lp=true

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartier_(jeweler)

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Pp-kBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT819&lpg=PT819&dq=trinity+de+cartier&source=bl&ots=0xQLhZ8-uF&sig=UBEfmHiAPtd3KWCcXi8jeVoSoUU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiy5dyo87XUAhWFIpoKHQvoCuM4HhDoAQh_MAM#v=onepage&q=trinity%20de%20cartier&f=false

http://www.cartier.co.uk/en-gb/collections/jewelry/collections/trinity-de-cartier.html

https://www.elderandbloom.com/articles/2017/1/5/trilogy-and-trinity-rings

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.

 

 

 

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.