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.

 

 

 

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.

Key Jewellery Looks by Decade

Here is an overview of the key jewellery looks of the first six decades of the 20th century. 

1900-1909

These years saw the continued explosion in the Art Nouveau Movement in all its forms. The styles evoked femininity, mystery, nature and were an homage to an imagined pre-industrial Eden of the past.

Germany, c.1903  Enamelled gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds, emeralds,a ruby, hung with a pearl.  V&A Museum

Germany, c.1903

Enamelled gold, set with brilliant-cut diamonds, emeralds,a ruby, hung with a pearl.

V&A Museum

Semiprecious stones

Semiprecious stones such as opals, moonstones, turquoise, baroque pearls etc took a central place as the beauty of the piece was not necessarily defined by the agreed value of the materials. 

Enamel Work

Enamel work became prominent as the focus on artistry and craftsmanship dominated. 

Bijouterie

Bijouterie can be described as a piece valued for the delicacy of its design as opposed to the value of its materials. These more intricate pieces became prevalent as design took dominance over ostentatious displays. 

Nature Themes

Nature themes were popular as people sought to connect with the simplicity and beauty of the pre-industrial era. 

Celtic Motifs

Celtic motifs were also popular as people romanticised  heritage and history in a rejection of the rapidly exploding modernity of the Western world.

The Female Form

The  female form and visage became one of the eras most iconic motifs as a craving for femininity emerged as a response to the increasing mechanisation of society. 

The Whiplash Motif

The whiplash motif was a signature motif of this decade. 

1910-1919

These years saw an emergence of elegance and a focus on gentile refinement. There was an emphasis on evening wear along with an adulation of aristocracy and nostalgia for the hey days of the fine royal courts of Europe, in particular Versailles. 

Tsarina Alexandra

Tsarina Alexandra

The Lavalier

The lavalier became a popular item as the beauty of the décolleté was emphasised. 

Bandeaus and Aigrettes

Inspired by the natives of the New World,  bandeaus and aigrettes started to become popular (this fashion exploded in the 1920s)

Bows and Swags 

Hearkening back to Rococo and Baroque design, bows and swags became recurrent motifs. 

Tiaras and headpieces

Inspired by the glamorous royal courts of Europe, tiaras and headpieces became popular evening wear. 

Garland Necklace

The garland necklace was popular as the beauty of the décolleté, neck and shoulder was focused upon. 

Colliers de chien

Princess Alexander popularised this iconic style. 

Cameos

The migration of many Italian cameo artists saw the popular emergence of cameos across Europe and the USA. 

White on white

White metals with white stones were the height of fashion with the emphasis on evening refinement and the desire to wear jewels that looked amazing by candle light (also inspired by the new vogue for luxury cruises.)

1920-1929

This decade saw the emergence of a new boyish and chic look.  Jewellery became streamlined, youthful, forward looking, minimalist, light and lean. 

Bangles and Cuff bracelets

With the craze for dancing it was important to wear items with movement. 

Egyptian and Ethnic motifs

The architectural discoveries of these years saw an emergence of revivalist motifs, as well as an idealisation for the styles of foreign lands as the European empires expanded. 

Fan, Chevron, Geometric and the Machine Aesthetic

With mechanisation and modernity there came an emphasis on machine-inspired designs. 

Venetian Glass and Crystal Beads

As long sautoir necklaces became popular (perfectly for twirling while dancing), the artistry of venetian glass and the beauty of crystal was revered. 

Machine cut Gemstones

Gemstones were now cut by machine for the most part, rather than cut by hand. 

Tassels

There was a craze for tassel earrings and tassel necklaces and the movement they brought with them while dancing the latest dance crazes. 

1930s 

This decade brought the glamour and dram of the silent screen and black and white movies into the forefront of popular culture. 

Diamonds

Diamonds became the most sought after gem, popularised by the silent screen actresses who wore them for their ability to sparkle on the screen. 

Stepped, Chevron and Circle Motifs 

The continued fashion for modernism saw an emphasis on geometric, architectural and non-organic motifs. 

Filigree Settings

Filigree settings, particularly using white metals, became popular in this decade. 

Floral Motifs

The simplicity and girlishness of floral motifs became prevalent. 

Dress Clips

Dress clips became the height of fashion

White on white

The fashion for all white jewellery continued. 

Dime Store Deco

Dime stores sold inexpensive costume jewellery which made style available to everyone. These pieces became known as 'dime store deco.'

Costume

The silver screen saw an emphasis on increasingly flashy costume pieces.

1940s

The austerity of the war years brought about a creative explosion in costume jewellery which made personal decor more accessible. It was not worn to display wealth but more as an expression of fun and levity, in contrast to the serious times. 

Lauren Bacall 

Lauren Bacall 

Rhinestones

Rhinestones became a popular and accessible stand-in for diamonds. 

Metal and Wood

The scarcity of precious metals saw an explosion in creativity using readily available materials such as base metal and wood. 

Surrealism

The new surrealist art movements of Europe overlapped into the world of jewellery design. 

Patriotic Pins

It became de rigueur for every woman to wear a display of patriotism. 

Jelly Belly

These were pins with a rounded, polished lucite middle. Pioneered by Trifari in the 1930s but made popular by the head designer, Alfred Philippe, in the 1940s. 

Floral Motifs

Floral motifs continued in popularity. 

Vermeil

Vermeil became popular as a replacement for solid gold. 

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver saw a surge in popularity as gold was less available. 

Bakelite and other plastics

This decade saw a greater use of bakelite and other early plastics. 

1950s

After the end of the Second World War, there was a return to the display of wealth. The love of sparkle and luxury returned with force but there was a retention of the fun and creative sensibilities of the previous decade. 

Marilyn Monroe c. 1954

Marilyn Monroe c. 1954

Floral and Natural Themes

These motifs remained popular. 

Chandelier Earrings

This glamorous style of earring became all the rage. 

Scandinavian Modern

The streamlined modernity of 'Scandinavian Modern' became sought after. 

Textured Gold

Textured gold became fashionable. 

Beads and Pearls

GIs returning from Japan brought home strings of cultured pearls to their sweethearts and a string of pearls or other beads around the neck (usually in princess length) became standard. 

Figurative Brooches

Artistry and fun was expressed through the fashion for figurative brooches.

Copper Jewellery

Copper became a new innovative material to work with as a replacement for gold. 

Charm Bracelets

Charm bracelets became an item every woman had to have. 

Parures

Perhaps as a symptom of nostalgia for the now long-gone Victoria era, parures (complete sets of matching jewellery) grew in popularity. 

Further reading:

https://www.elderandbloom.com/articles/2017/1/5/getting-clear-on-antique-and-vintage-eras-and-terms

https://www.elderandbloom.com/articles/2017/1/6/art-deco-motifs

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.

 

Pippa Bear
Art Nouveau Manufacturers

Here is a list of some notable Art Nouveau Jewellery manufacturers. This is not a conclusive list but an additional overview and a nice way of viewing some of the designs. 

MURRLE BENNETT AND CO, London, 1896-1914

Founded by Ernst Murrle and J.B Bennett.

The company produced Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles. Known for their Celtic inspired interwoven design and stylised foliate motifs. 

MURRLE BENNETT AND CO buckle.  Tadema Gallery. 

MURRLE BENNETT AND CO buckle. Tadema Gallery. 

GEORGE W. SHIELBER & CO., New York, 1876–1907

Founded by George W. Shielder.

The company became known for it's silverwork and 'Homeric' and 'Etruscan' styles, incorporating ancient coin designs. 

Sterling Silver Bracelet, George W. Shiebler & Co,.   Skinner Auctions. 

Sterling Silver Bracelet, George W. Shiebler & Co,.  Skinner Auctions. 

GORHAM MANUFACTURING COMPANY, Rhode Island USA, 1831 - 1967

Founded by Jabez Gorham and Henry L. Webster.

The company is known for a wide variety of silver and foundry products and as a producer for Tiffany's.  They were also a major producer of Art Nouveau jewelry.

PENDANT, GORHAM MANUFACTURING COMPANY.    Risd Museum. 

PENDANT, GORHAM MANUFACTURING COMPANY. 

Risd Museum. 

BIPPART GRISCAM & OSBORN (aka Bippart & Company), Newark, New Jersey, USA, 1885 - 1920s?

Founded by Achill Bippart in 1886 and joined by Benjamin F Grishamin in 1893 and Bennett Osborn in 1897.

Known for fine enamelled gold Art Nouveau Jewelry. 

Bippart Griscam & Osborn  brooch.  Tadema Gallery. 

Bippart Griscam & Osborn  brooch. Tadema Gallery. 

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.

Sources / Further reading:

http://www.vandenbosch.co.uk/Jewellery/MB/MBPage.htm

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

http://www.treasuresmagazine.com/treasures/feature_articles/may_2012/gorham-manufacturing-company

http://medallicartcollector.com/gorham.shtml

Pippa Bear
Gold Testing with a Tri-Electronic Tester

Many pieces of antique gold jewellery (particularly from the Georgian era or pieces which are handcrafted) are unmarked and therefore gold testing is necessary. This article is a practical guide to using an electronic gold tester made by TRI electronics (I personally have the GXL-18 model.).  

This is my decimation of the information in the TRI Electronics user manual which I hope makes a good quick reference for those interested.  HOWEVER - PLEASE ALWAYS REFER TO THE MANUFACTURERS INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE FINAL SAY ON HOW TO USE THESE TESTERS. 

 

OPERATION PROCEDURE

The procedure for testing can be shortened to the following easy to remember four words:

LOAD - CONNECT- SELECT- TEST

For more details, see below: 

1) Load the polyethylene gel tube in accordance with the manufacturers instructions.

2) Connect the following:

a) The black wire to the sensor's plug outlet.

b) The black and red wire connector to the display unit.

c) The red wire to the testing plate.

3) Turn the unit ON. The unit should now read 'G-XL-18 READY TO TEST...'

4) Selecting a point to test: 

a) Make sure the point to test is close to BUT NEVER TOUCHING the alligator clip.

b) Do not allow the gel to touch the alligator clip as this will corrode it. 

c) Thoroughly clean the testing point with the eraser. 

5) The First Part of the Test

  1. Place a tissue, paper towel or rag under the tip of the sensor. 
  2. Hold the sensor in a vertical position with the nozzle down. 
  3. Twist the Rotary Cap counter clockwise, one click at a time, until a drop of gel appears.
  4. Wipe this first drop of gel away.
  5. Turn again (usually one or two clicks) until more gel appears.
  6. Touch the sensor to the selected area of the test object.

6) Select a gold colour button. 

Depending on the visible colour of the metal you are testing, select one of the following buttons on the unit (see manual for diagram of button locations):

Y-Yellow

W-White

R-Red

G-Green

7) Keep the sensor in a vertical position for about 5 seconds. This is is when the gold value is calibrated.

8) The karat value and European Standard are displayed on the instrument. (Tip: Write this down with a pen and paper you keep to hand, along with your reference for the item). 

9) Turn off the instrument.

POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND

1) Electronic tests are not infallible.  If you achieve a result which is outside of expectations then retest in a different location after cleaning your equipment and your item and use new gel. Keep testing until you get a consistent result. Always make a note for the customer if you are selling gold items tested with an electronic tester explain that the test is not infallible and should be seen as a guide only. 

2) Be careful with fine chains. Very fine chains  can be crushed by the dispenser. Avoid pressure with fine gold chains whilst keeping gel contact. It's recommended to get the results of two or three tests.

3) Be aware of air bubbles. Sometimes air bubbles with give a high or low reading. Always retest and apply common sense to the results of your readings. 

4) Clean Tip. A clean tip is essential for an accurate reading.

a) If you are not using the gold tester more than once a week it is advised that you remove the gel tube from the sensor and store it to keep the gel from drying out.

b) Before replacing the gel, whether with a new tube or with one previously removed, clean thoroughly with SC-10 Cleaner Kit. 

c) If the tester has not been used for over a week, clean the tip with the plastic cleaner provided by inserting the tip into the nozzle of the sensor.

d) If gel drops are not dispensed by rotating the twist cap, clean the sensor with the SC-10 Cleaner Kit. 

5) Solder areas and heavy castings with unevenly dispersed metal can give false readings. Always retest in different areas of the piece. 

6) Italian Gold may be waxed and can give a false reading. If you suspect the metal may be waxed, clean the testing area with heavy erasing or with nitric acid (only a drop is required). 

7) Skin oils can give a false reading. In heavily worn pieces clean the testing area first with the eraser or with non-acetone nail polish remover. 

8) Plated Gold. Usually a tiny scratch or a pin prick will allow gel penetration to the base material on plated pieces. If this is not sufficient, two or three tests are recommended with a thorough eraser cleaning in between. If the item is gold plated, the karatage will decrease with each testing. A solid gold piece will not decrease with each test. 

9) Dispose of the drop of gel following each test. 

10) Use every other gel drop for best results. 

11) DO NOT LET GEL OR SENSOR NOZZLE TOUCH THE ALLIGATOR CLIP!

12) When removing the cable from the sensor, do not pull the wire! Pull the plug itself to avoid damage. 

13) Testing objects larger than the Alligator Clip. In this instance, unhook the red wire from the testing plate and proceed with the test as per instructions but with the tip of the red wire touching the object. 

14) Do not retest the same spot without eraser cleaning. 

15) Refer to the manual for full care and maintenance of the tester and follow their recommendations.  

TROUBLE SHOOTING

1) Problem: Brown spot on test surfaces

Solution: Rub the spot with eraser

2) Problem: Display unit reads “NOT GOLD”

Solution: Check the wire contacts and the connections

3) Problem: Display has no reading

Solution: Check batteries or switch to converter or change the wire set.

4) Problem: Inaccurate or different readings

Solution: Keep gel away from alligator clip

5) Problem: Gel does not come out

Solution: Clean sensor nozzle and check gel tube and replace if empty.

6) Problem: Sensor’s rotary cap is hard to turn or is tight. 

Solution: Check gel tube and replace if empty. 

7) Problem: Changed or reduced karat value on the display from previously.

Solution: Check gel tube and replace if empty. 

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.

 

Pippa Bear
Fabrication

There are five main methods of production for creating  metal based vintage and antique jewelry. It is important to have a basic understand of these so you can more accurately understand how a piece was made. This also helps in aging the piece. 

These techniques are:

Hand Fabrication

Throughout history, most jewelry has been created by hand. Hand fabrication can be defined as when a piece is made by hand from start to finish, usually at a bench. The process of hand-fabrication encompasses a large variety of other techniques, including but not limited to, filigree,  appliquégranulation, cannetille, enamellingrepoussé and chasing. 

This early Victorian cannetille bracelet was made entirely by hand. 

This early Victorian cannetille bracelet was made entirely by hand. 

Casting

This is when the piece is made from a mold, often rubber. The mold can be created from the original piece of jewellery or from a wax replica. 

This late Victorian bracelet was made using a cast as well as being hand-set with stones. 

This late Victorian bracelet was made using a cast as well as being hand-set with stones. 

Die Striking / Stamping

This is a manufacturing technique patented in 1769 by John Pickering.

Die struck or stamped pieces are created using a moveable force made of steel (the 'male') and an immoveable hardened steel die (the 'female'). The metal that will become the jewellery is placed between the male and the female and assumes the form of the die. 

This late-Victorian myrtle crown was created using die-stamping. 

This late-Victorian myrtle crown was created using die-stamping. 

Electroforming

This technique was first patented in 1840 and was popular until the end of the 1800s. It has experienced a revival in contemporary jewellery (which is why many Victorian electro-formed pieces can look uncannily modern). 

Electro-formed jewellery is created by taking a mandrel in the form of the desired jewellery piece (the mandrel can be made from almost anything but most commonly is wax or metal). This mandrel is then coated with a metallic solution which is placed in a bath of electrolytic solution. This creates a negative charge that allows positively charged gold to be deposited on it in a very fine layer. The original mandrel is then melted away.

The result is lightweight, hollow gold coloured pieces of jewellery. 

These mid to late Victorian earrings were created by electro-forming (with additional enamel work and set with a central seed-oearl). 

These mid to late Victorian earrings were created by electro-forming (with additional enamel work and set with a central seed-oearl). 

White Metal Spin-Casting

This is a process for making costume jewellery which uses a white metal alloy of tin, lead, bisuth, antimony and cadmium. The higher the quantity of tin, the greater the quality of the piece.

The mold is placed on a spinning caster and the metal is poured into the spinning old. It is usually then electroplated.

This  Tifari  set was created with spin casting. 

This Tifari set was created with spin casting. 

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.

Resources / further reading:

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

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Igy5BAAAQBAJ&pg=PT1214&lpg=PT1214&dq=white+metal+spin+casting+jewelry+vintage+antique&source=bl&ots=kmunSzglUg&sig=LqCnvwwquC5IComGWcv4_AhMtXo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIlubYhd7TAhXsAJoKHVk1DrUQ6AEIPTAH#v=onepage&q=white%20metal%20spin%20casting%20jewelry%20vintage%20antique&f=false

http://www.costumejewelrycollectors.com/2013/04/17/jewelry-manufacturing-concepts-part-iby-mary-ann-docktor-smith/

https://www.lexibutlerdesigns.com/blogs/news/85872708-costume-jewelry-verses-artisan-made-jewelry-part-1

Pippa Bear
Myrtle Bridal Tiaras

“A plant of immortality, myrtle was an emblem of love and desire; poets, especially love poets, were crowned with it, and doorposts were wreathed with myrtle in nuptial celebrations.” - Deirdre Larkin, The Art of Illumination. 

The tradition of wearing myrtle headpieces for weddings dates back to ancient times. Myrtle was revered by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hebrews and myrtle wedding garlands were popular throughout medieval Europe. The practise experienced a renaissance during the Victorian and Edwardian eras with the Naturalistic Movements and, later, the Art Nouveau Movement. With the explosion in romanticism, finely crafted myrtle tiaras and corsages became an established and widespread tradition throughout Europe, particularly Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 

Portrait of Queen Victoria wearing a myrtle bridal tiara. 

Portrait of Queen Victoria wearing a myrtle bridal tiara. 

Myrtle has long been considered to be Aphrodite’s flower and a symbol of devoted love. It is also considered to be the chosen flower of Venus. The Three Graces are frequently depicted wearing myrtle flower crowns. The ancient Greeks and Romans bathed in myrtle scented waters, often when preparing for marriage. They wore them for other special events and also received them as athletic prizes and other honours. They were made of gold foil and were delicate and fragile. The ancient Hebrews associated myrtle with romantic love, procreation and marriage. 

The sweet scent of myrtle is thought by many to be the very fragrance of romance itself.  It is a symbol of devotion and fidelity. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, myrtles’s simple and enduring meaning is 'love and marriage'.  In English tradition, a marriage is said to always follow after the myrtle blooms. In Wales, the traditional gift for a bridesmaid was a sprig of myrtle.

Myrtle Flower. 

Myrtle Flower. 

Fabric Myrtle Tiaras

In Germany and Austria, delicately made waxed fabric myrtle and leaf garlands were the most frequent choice for weddings. Tiny green leaves, interspersed with delicate white flowers, are arranged by hand on a pliable wooden or waxed card framework. Here at Elder and Bloom, we refer to these treasures as ‘Woodland Garlands’. They are popular with brides wanting a bohemian, natural or outdoor woodland themed wedding whilst simultaneously honouring history. 

Antique fabric myrtle bridal crown. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique fabric myrtle bridal crown. Elder and Bloom. 

Silver Myrtle Tiaras

The intricately made silver myrtle tiaras were worn to celebrate a couple’s 25th anniversary. (In Germany this was known as the ‘Silber Hochzeit’.) Usually these are made from a base metal or low karat silver alloy or sometimes silver plated brass or other alloy. More rarely, we will find one of these tiaras made from real 800 silver, sometimes stamped by the jeweller. They nearly always come with a matching boutonnière or corsage for the groom to wear. Sometimes they come with two corsages, one for the bride and one for the groom. Today, they are worn by discerning brides seeking meaning, rarity and beauty. 

Antique real silver myrtle bridal crown. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique real silver myrtle bridal crown. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique real silver myrtle bridal crown. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique real silver myrtle bridal crown. Elder and Bloom. 

Golden Myrtle Tiaras

Golden versions, usually created from gilded base metal and sometimes from gilded 800 silver, are even rarer. These were worn for the fiftieth anniversary (in German, the Goldene Hochzeit), again with matching boutonnière for the groom. These create a stunning and remarkable accessory for a modern bride, with  additional depth of meaning as they were worn to celebrate truly enduring marriages. 

Antique Golden Myrtle Crown in globe. Elder and Bloom. 

Antique Golden Myrtle Crown in globe. Elder and Bloom. 

Other Myrtle Tiaras

Other versions of myrtle tiaras were made from finely crafted silver or gold paper or possibly green paper leaves with delicately crafted white flowers. Wax versions were popular, especially in France. Sometimes, myrtle crowns can be found combined with a rose motif (another symbol of love and passion) or with a daisy motif (the daisy has long been associated with purity and innocence and is therefore appropriate for bridal wear). Just once, I was lucky enough to find a myrtle crown adorned with small gems. 

Paper antique myrtle crowns. Elder and Bloom 

Paper antique myrtle crowns. Elder and Bloom 

 

Additional Information

Myrtle Crowns are often found framed with commemorative satin hearts, photos or gilded memorabilia, showing the dates and names of the wedding couple. At other times, they are found in small glass presentation domes on a quilted, satin base. Examples from the Art Deco era are sometimes found in hinged presentation boxes. Earlier examples can be found in round cardboard boxes, sometimes with the name of the original jewellers stamped on the bottom. 

The earlier examples of these crowns were hand-wrought and the later versions were, although mass produced, still exquisitely crafted. These rare tiaras have proven very popular with contemporary brides and collectors drawn to the elegance, fineness and mystery. Valued for their heirloom qualities, they are sought after by those wanting to honour their European heritages. For a bride, they fulfil the requirement to wear something ‘old’ and create a talking point that fascinates their wedding guests. 

I have been collecting and selling these exquisite pieces for many years. It brings me great joy to seek them out and then pass them on to enthusiastic customers. The beauty and craftsmanship of these historic pieces never ceases to amaze me. 

To be put on the waiting list for the next available crown, please contact me at pippa@elderandbloom.com

Be sure to look through the 'Galleries' to see more examples of these crowns. 

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.

Further reading / resources: 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrtle_wreath_at_Vergina

http://www.nprberlin.de/term/pippa-anais-gaubert#stream/0

https://blog.etsy.com/en/short-stories-antique-german-wedding-tiara/

http://www.happinessisblog.com/happiness-is/2013/03/my-wedding-10-getting-ready.html

http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article008.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/kate-middleton-picks-flowers-with-special-125087

http://www.victoriana.com/victorianwedding/weddingbouquet.html

the three graces

Pippa Bear
Art Nouveau Design Houses

Here is an overview of four prominent Art Nouveau jewelry design houses:

LALIQUE, Paris

1888 until present

Founded by Lalique, Rene (1860-1945)

Probably the most famous Art Nouveau Designer of all, Lalique's jewelry designs are renowned for their delicate plique-à-jour enamel work and use of the female form. 

 Rene Lalique also sold designs to the great jewelry houses of Boucheron, Cartier and Verver. 

Lalique pendant. Christie's Auctions. 

Lalique pendant. Christie's Auctions. 

KOCH, Germany 1879-1987
Founded by Robert and Louis Koch.

In 1883 Koch received the title of ‘Jeweler of the court’ and worked for European Royal families such as the Czar of Russia or the King of Italy.

AN ART NOUVEAU OPAL, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND DOG COLLAR PLAQUE, BY KOCH.  Christies. 

AN ART NOUVEAU OPAL, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND DOG COLLAR PLAQUE, BY KOCH. Christies. 

VEVER, France, 1821 - Present

Founded by Pierre Vever (1795 - 1853) 

Known for fine, gem-set Art Nouveau jewelry and hair combs. One of Vever's most famous designers was Eugene Grasset (1841-1917).

Henri Vever "La Bretonne" Pendant, circa 1900.  Lang's Jewelry University. 

Henri Vever "La Bretonne" Pendant, circa 1900. Lang's Jewelry University. 

FOUQUET, France, 1852-1936.

Founded by Alphonse Fouquet and taken over by his son, Georges Fouquet in 1895.

Known for naturalistic and sensuous Art Nouveau styles.

The company worked with the renowned artists and designers Charles Desrosiers, Alphonse Mucha and Etienne Tourette.

Fouquet Abalone Pearl and Plique-á-Jour Enamel Brooch with Chatelaine, 1901. Photo Courtesy of  Christie's .

Fouquet Abalone Pearl and Plique-á-Jour Enamel Brooch with Chatelaine, 1901.
Photo Courtesy of Christie's.

 

Sources / Further reading:

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

http://www.lalique.com/en?gclid=CPCusPvp-9ICFRdmGwod7lMFGQ

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plique-à-jour

https://uk.pinterest.com/ElderandBloom/lalique/

https://www.faerber-collection.com/index.php?folder=collection_pub&pageF=start

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

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

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.

 

Pippa Bear
Brooch Fastenings

One way of evaluating the age of a brooch is by looking at the fastening (although you must of course take everything into consideration).  There are some hard and fast rules that can be applied but there are also exceptions. You must take into account that a brooch might have been remounted with a more contemporary mount (or, in rarer cases, remounted on an older mount). Also, it's important to look at both the pin, the clasp and the hinge. 

(For clarity's sake, a brooch consists of: the pin i.e., the sharp metal piece that pierces the clothing, the hinge, i.e. the part that allows the pin to pivot, the catch, i.e. the part that holds the pin in place. The main, decorative part is called the body and all else are called findings.)

Presuming it has not been remounted or modified, the follow rules of thumb apply for dating brooches:

C-Clasp

The basic c-clasp brooch (or 'pin') fastening was used through out the 19th century and into the 20th century (ending around 1910).

C-Clasps were nearly always hand-made. 

V&A Museum        C Catch -   Likely to be a Pre-1910 piece

V&A Museum       C Catch - Likely to be a Pre-1910 piece

C-Clasp extending beyond edge of brooch

Probably pre-1850

Remember: as the 19th century progressed, the pin generally got shorter and finer. 

 

V&A Museum   Pin extending beyond the edge of the brooch with a c-clasp    Likely to be from the 1800's and probably pre-1850.

V&A Museum

Pin extending beyond the edge of the brooch with a c-clasp

Likely to be from the 1800's and probably pre-1850.

'T-Bar' or 'Tube' Hinges

From around 1850 to 1910 (Also used in other eras to a lesser extent)

These hinges were made by hand and consisted of three cylinders or tubes, one attached to the pin itself, the other two to the sides of the pin. 

The 'T-Bar' hinge narrowed and became finer in the early part of the 20th century.

It is important to note that although the hinge of the C-Clasp narrowed with time, the actual clasp itself could be broader in more recent times. 

Georgian era C-Clasp Brooch with broad 'T-Bar'  hinge. 

Georgian era C-Clasp Brooch with broad 'T-Bar'  hinge. 

Ball-Style or Round Hinge 

In the early 20th century, around 1920, the 'T-bar' or 'tube' style hinge was replaced with a rounded, 'ball-style' hinge.

These hinges were machine-made and became standard around 1930. 

The pin itself became one single piece, as opposed to a pin soldered to a tube or cylinder, as with the 'T-Bar' or 'Tube' Hinge. 

Edwardian era brooch with 'ball style' rounded hinge. 

Edwardian era brooch with 'ball style' rounded hinge. 

Early Safety Catch (has a movable piece)

All of the below were invented post-1849

They were hand-made until the late 1920's

Early Safety Catches were created to prevent loss of the brooch from the clothing.

These were usually one of the following styles (although there were lots of creative variations):

Lever Catch

Post-1901

On a lever catch, you find a small piece at the top of the clasp to lever the catch open.

Often used on small brooches

Morning Glory Antiques. This brooch is post-1901 and pre late 1920s.

Morning Glory Antiques. This brooch is post-1901 and pre late 1920s.

SAFETY PIN CLASP WITH CHAIN

Post-1849

Brooches were secured with the additional use of a safety pin and chain. Associated with the mid and late Victorian era. 

Brooches were secured with the additional use of a safety pin and chain. Associated with the mid and late Victorian era. 

 

Safety pin clasp.

Post 1849

A safety pin was embedded into or attached onto the body. 

Art Deco era brooch with body attached to a large safety pin style fastener. 

Art Deco era brooch with body attached to a large safety pin style fastener. 

 

Trombone Catch (or 'push-pull catch')

1850-1940

This is when a pin slips into a barrel. Specifically European pieces.

Tube or Barrel Catch

These were similar to the trombone style catch but without the push-pull mechanism.

 

Locking C-Clasp (early Roll-Over Saftey Catch)

Patented in 1901 / Widely used from 1910 onwards / Handmade until late 1920s

These used a spinning locking mechanism.

Early locking C clasps opened downwards, and more modern ones open upwards.  

Early locking clasps usually had a small rounded mechanism.

Later versions ones had a locking piece that was separate and slipped over the holding piece of the clasp.

 

Modern Safety Catch

Machine made roll-over, locking or safety catch as we know today. 

Became widespread in the late 1920s to early 1930s.

Usually combined with a round hinge and often pre-assembled as a single unit, bought separately and added to the piece by the jeweller. 

Dress CLips or Double Clip Brooch

1927 (spring system patented by Cartier)

1931 (mechanism patented by Coro)

These gained popularity in the 1920s and were worn until the 1950s. Quintessentially 'Art Deco'.

Double clip brooches could be worn separately as dress clips or together as a larger brooch. They were sometimes placed on bags and scarfs and fur coats as well as on clothing.

Langs Antiques. 

Langs Antiques. 

Double Hinged Clip

(or 'Fur Clip)

1928 (patented by Cartier)

Designed to hold on to thick pieces of fabric, these involved a double pronged clip with a heavy-duty spring mechanism. Although these were known as 'fur clips' they generally weren't worn on fur as they would have ruined the pelt.

Back of an 'Eisenberg Original' brooch with a double hinged clip or 'fur clip'. 

Back of an 'Eisenberg Original' brooch with a double hinged clip or 'fur clip'. 

 

Note: When testing for karat, do not test the fastener or rely on the karat markings of the fastener alone. 

 

Sources / further reading:

http://www.antiquesavenue.com/fasten-ating-how-to-date-antique-vintage-brooch-from-its-catch/2009/03/

http://www.portalwisconsin.org/archives/jewelry_feature.cfm

http://www.ehow.com/how_8762817_date-brooch.html

http://elizabethhanes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/EHanes_inventions_date_jewelry.pdf

https://www.realorrepro.com/article/Dating-brooch-fasteners

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Hcvrqa4kA&list=PLquSrnNv1Ew8ZKl0rE_YpR6Wx_warlk_M&spfreload=10

https://jewellerymuse.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/tips-on-how-to-date-a-vintage-brooch/

https://www.rubylane.com/blog/categories/jewelry/dating-vintage-jewelry-by-clasp-fastenings/

http://collectingvintagejewelry.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/collecting-vintage-jewelry-part-7-pin.html

http://www.nationaljeweler.com/fashion/antique-estate-jewelry/4231-the-history-behind-dress-clips

 

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.

 

Pippa Bear
Theodor Fahrner

Overview

Theodor Fahrner was a renowned German costume jewellery company who rose to prominence as a manufacturer of Jugendstil, Celtic Revival, Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts designs. They also produced Art Moderne and Contemporary styles. However, they are probably best known today for their Art Deco jewellery.

The company, in common with the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, believed that design and workmanship was more important than the value of the materials used. As well as one off pieces, they mass produced affordable yet very stylish jewellery. They became well known for use of low karat gold,  gilt silver and cut steel pieces, the use of gems such as amethyst, chalcedony, quartz, citrine, turquoise, rock crystal and coral. Opals and pearls were also utilised. They also incorporated enamel work, filigree, granulation and a great deal of marcasite (iron pyrite)

Theodor Fahrner pieces are considered highly collectible and have broad appeal. 

Offered by  Tadema Gallery. 

Offered by Tadema Gallery. 

 

Important dates

1855

Theodor Fahrner founded in 1855 in Pforzheim, Germany, by Theodor Fahrner and Georg Seeger. The company's focus was on producing rings. 

1883

In 1883, the company was taken over by Fahrner's son, also named Theodor.  

1900

In 1900, the company was awarded a a silver medal at the Paris Exposition.  

1900 to 1919.

The company became known for its simple steel pieces. 

1901

TF trademark registered. 

Began to export to Britain.

Collaborated with Murrie, Bennett & Co. 

1919

Theodor Fahrner junior died in 1919 and the company was then bought by Gustav Braendle.  After this point, it used the trademark Fahrner Schmuck and was known as Gustav Braendle – Theodor Fahrner Nachfolger.

1922

They began to create Art Deco designs in 1922.

1932

In 1932 they began to produce their signature filigree and granulation collection. 

1945

Factory destroyed by bomb and many designs were lost. 

 1952

Gustav Braendle died and the firm was taken over by his son Herbert.

1960s

Produced modern silver pieces with stones and Roman and Egyptian Revival motifs. 

1979

Herbert Braendle died and the company closed. 

Designers

Darmstadt Artists Colony Artists 1899 - 

  • Joseph Maria Olbrich
  • Paul Burck
  • Ludwig Habich
  • Patritz Huber 

Others

  • Franz Boeres (Collaborated with Theodor Fahrner 1905-1919)
  • Max Josef Gradl (Collaborated with Theodor Fahrner 1899-1910)
  • Hermann Häussler (Collaborated with Theodor Fahrner as enameler 1908-1911)
  • Julius Muller-Salem
  • H.C. van de Velde
  • Georg Kleeman

Trademarks
 

Mark:   Original Farhner 925      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon. 

Mark:   Original Farhner 925      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon. 

Mark:   "TF & Germany      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

Mark:   "TF & Germany      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

 Mark:   Fahrner made some jewelry for Murrle, Bennett and Co. which was signed with both their marks    Courtesy Cathy Gordon

 Mark:   Fahrner made some jewelry for Murrle, Bennett and Co. which was signed with both their marks    Courtesy Cathy Gordon

 Mark:   TF 935 Depose     Courtesy Cathy Gordon

 Mark:   TF 935 Depose     Courtesy Cathy Gordon

Mark:   TF & 935      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

Mark:   TF & 935      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

  Mark:   Fahrner, TF, 925     Courtesy Ron Maranto

  Mark:   Fahrner, TF, 925     Courtesy Ron Maranto

        Mark:   TF, 935, Depose, PH (PH for Patriz Huber who designed exclusively for Fahrner from 1901-1902)     Courtesy friend of RCJ


        Mark:   TF, 935, Depose, PH (PH for Patriz Huber who designed exclusively for Fahrner from 1901-1902)     Courtesy friend of RCJ

Artist Marks (often used alongside Trademark). 

Courtesy of Lang's Jewellery University. 

Paul Burck    

Paul Burck 

 

Max Josef Gradl

Max Josef Gradl

Ludwig Habich

Ludwig Habich

Patriz Huber

Patriz Huber

Josef Maria Olbrich

Josef Maria Olbrich

H.C. van de Velde

H.C. van de Velde

 

Useful information for evaluation

1) It cannot be older than 1855 but must be from before 1979. 

2) If it is Art Deco in style, it must be at least from 1922.

3) If it has filigree and granulation, it was probably created after 1932. 

4) Unsigned pieces were produced. These are worth considerably less than signed pieces but can still be beautiful.

Further reading / sources:

Theodor Fahrner Jewelry between Avantgarde and Tradition, by Ulrike von Hase-Schmundt, Christianne Weber and Ingeborg Becker.

http://www.designgallery.co.uk/blog/20thcenturyjewellery/biographies-20thcenturyjewellery/theodor-fahrner/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darmstadt_Artists'_Colony

https://www.pinterest.com/ElderandBloom/theodor-fahrner/

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.380729458680365.95372.187619517991361&type=1

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodor_Fahrner

http://www.langantiques.com/university/Fahrner,_Theodor_Jewelry_Maker's_Mark

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.

Pippa Bear
Posie Rings

A ‘Posie ring’ (sometimes written as posy, posey or poesy) is any ring with an inscription on the outside or inside.  Usually they are gold.  They were particularly popular in England and France during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries as lovers’ gifts.

Post-medieval posie ring (1500-1650), found in Rowton Castle area, Shropshire. © Portable Antiquities Scheme and British Museum

Post-medieval posie ring (1500-1650), found in Rowton Castle area, Shropshire. © Portable Antiquities Scheme and British Museum

 

The early posie rings had inscriptions in Norman French and later were written in Latin, French or English.  I have not come across them in other languages, although I suspect they must exist.  They can be simple bands or they can be set with stones. Tolkien must have gotten his inspiration from the English Posie Ring.

Here are some examples of typical inscriptions.  I love the deep romance of these sentiments from a more poetic age. Posie rings are truly a wonderful item to own, to give and to collect.

In love abide till death devide’

‘ In thee my choyce I do rejoyce’ 

‘In thy sight is my delight’

 

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.

 

 

Pippa Bear
Alexandrite

” Look, here it is, the prophetic Russian stone! O crafty Siberian. It was always green as hope and only toward evening was it suffused with blood. It was that way from the beginning of the world, but it concealed itself for a long time, lay hidden in the earth, and permitted itself to be found only on the day when Tsar Alexander was declared of age, when a great sorcerer had come to Siberia to find the stone, a magician.”    Leskov, Nikolai Semyonovich (1884), “Alexandrite”

This amazing color-changing gem has a most fascinating history.  It was discovered in Russia around the time that Tsar Alexander II was celebrating his 16th birthday in 1834 and it was named after him.  This gem came to be intrinsically tied in with Russia’s dramatic history and fascinated the Russian aristocracy and future generations.  It was also said to be the favorite gem ofTsarina Alexandra. Her wistful beauty and the story of her tragic life cannot fail to move anyone.

Tsarina Alexandra

Tsarina Alexandra

In 1891, The Ladies’ Home Journal wrote: “… Alexandrite appears to be in the ascendancy jewel comes from Siberia, and is of a beautiful dark green transparent color, which under any artificial light changes to that of pigeon blood ruby.  The Alexandrite is cut like a diamond and is being used by the leading jewelers for lace pins, bracelets, and other ornaments.”

To this day, Alexandrite is associated with duality, hope and sadness, pain and pleasure, loss and life, tears and laughter.  This is truly a mystical and fascinating stone and it definitely appeals to those with a literary or artistic sensibility.  Looking at genuine Alexandrite can evoke strong emotion in a sensitive person.

In daylight, Alexandrite is green or blueish green (symbolizing ‘hope’) changing to red or purple or lavender (symbolizing ‘blood’).  Natural Alexandrite does not come in any other colors than this (if it is yellow or brown it is probably color change crysoberyl which is often sold as Alexandrite). The closer the green is to emerald and the closer the red is to ruby, the more valuable the stone. It is extremely rare to find a stone which changes to red however, normally the color is purple or lavender. Naturally mined Alexandrite is rare and valuable and very seldom comes in large carats.  Nearly all of the Alexandrite you see today in contemporary jewelry is lab created.  I personally would only look for something in a vintage setting with small stones as a big stone is almost certainly lab created (if it is natural it should command a very high price!)  But only a trained and trusted gemologist can tell you for certain.

Here is a natural Alexandrite specimen from the Ural mountains. This one is a spectacular true green and lavender.

Here is a natural Alexandrite specimen from the Ural mountains. This one is a spectacular true green and lavender.

A naturally mined Alexandrite and 9 ct English ring from my personal collection. Judging by the Art Deco setting, I would place this ring from 1920 to 1940. It was hard to capture the colors with my camera, but the stones change subtly from dark green to dark purple in daylight.

A naturally mined Alexandrite and 9 ct English ring from my personal collection. Judging by the Art Deco setting, I would place this ring from 1920 to 1940. It was hard to capture the colors with my camera, but the stones change subtly from dark green to dark purple in daylight.

 

Further reading / sources:  

http://www.alexandrite.net/

 

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.

 

 

Pippa Bear
Seed pearls
Turquoise and seed pearl antique earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

Turquoise and seed pearl antique earrings. Elder and Bloom. 

A seed pearl is a tiny pearl, weighing less than a quarter of a grain.  Often imperfect, these tiny treasures required great precision from the jeweler.  Some of the holes were so tiny that horsehair had to be used to string them, silk being too thick. (I wonder if the labor required in working with seed pearls is one of the reasons they are not used as much today. Seed pearl jewelry was relatively inexpensive in the past because of the low cost of labor.) Arranged delicately around colorful enamel, painted miniatures, gems, corals, larger pearls or other natural materials and set in gold or silver, the pretty, delicate and sensual luster of seed pearl jewelry is a delight and one of my absolute favorite materials used in antique jewelry.

Carved horn hair comb with seed pearls c1905, Louis Aucoc

Carved horn hair comb with seed pearls c1905, Louis Aucoc

Pearls and seed pearls of course have been sought after throughout human history. In the Georgian era (1714 to 1830), seed pearls were used in cluster rings, combined with precious or semi-precious stones.  Seed pearl jewelry was particularly popular in the early Victorian era (1840 to 1860) and continued to be used until the Edwardian era.  Seed pearl jewelry fell out of vogue somewhat when the bolder styles of the Art Deco movement came in around 1920, but has never truly gone out of fashion to this day. Victorian seed pearl jewelry was generally sold in sets of a necklace, two bracelets, earrings and a corsage. Interestingly, much of the work in seed pearl jewelry manufacture was done in Germany, although it was sold in England and elsewhere. Because people in the Victorian era tended to have a lot of children, these sets would normally get divided up so a complete set is much harder to find and much more valuable.  The finest and more delicate seed pearls were from China.

Seed pearls have the same characteristics as any pearl and may be cultured or natural.  Nearly all pearls sold today are cultured.  However, pearls from before 1916 when the pearl culturing process was first patented will be natural.  The only way to know for certain if a pearl is natural or cultured is with an X-Ray.  Many professionals devote their whole careers to grading and valuing pearls.  However, there are some home tests for telling if a pearl is at least an authentic pearl which I will discuss at a later date. Pearls are considered to be an ‘organic gemstone’ along with jet, coral and amber.

 

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.

Pippa Bear
Coral
Louis Édouard Rioult – Portrait Of A Lady Wearing Coral Jewellery

Louis Édouard Rioult – Portrait Of A Lady Wearing Coral Jewellery

Antique, untreated coral is one of the most loved of materials in antique jewelry.  It is considered to be one of the ‘organic gemstones’ (the other two being amber and jet and pearls). Women who first own a piece of old coral jewelry soon become addicted to it and tend to become collectors.  There is something truly sumptuous and almost edible about antique, untreated coral.  It has long been worn as a talisman and later for its pure beauty. It was considered by the Victorians to promote good health and vitality and you can really believe that it does once you experience wearing it.

One of the wonderful things about coral is that it tends to adapt over time to the woman who is wearing it and will subtly change color in a very organic way.  Many women have reported a feeling of ‘rightness’ about their particular piece of coral jewelry, as though the piece is actually part of them. Coral ranges from white, to ‘Angel Skin’, to ‘Salmon’, to ‘Oxblood’ and every nuance in between.

Since ancient Rome, coral has been considered to be protective for children and in the Georgian and Victorian era children were often given carved coral rattles. Children were also given coral earrings, bracelets and necklaces to wear. There are many works of art from Regency, Victorian and the early 20th century that show coral being worn by both women and children.  Looking at old works of art can be a truly wonderful way of understanding antique jewellery. 

 

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.

Pippa Bear
Victorian Serpent Motif

“We look into the glittering windows of the jeweler’s shops and I show Sophy which of the diamond-eyed serpents, coiled up on white satin rising-grounds, I would give her if I could afford it.” – from ‘David Copperfield’ by Charles Dickens.

I doubt there has ever been a time and place when snakes have not been a motif in jewelry to a greater or lesser degree.  The Romans and the Greeks and the Egyptians all wore Serpent jewelry, as did many other cultures, going as far back as the Sumerians. Each culture has attached great significance and meaning to the snake. Snakes were considered to be good fortune in Georgian times and there is an abundance of surviving Georgian serpent jewelry. In the Georgian era, serpent jewelry was not only worn for ornamentation but also as mourning jewelry.

However, in the Victorian era the wearing of serpents reached a whole new level of popularity. The Victorians of course were extremely influenced by the styles favored by royalty.  I might even venture to say that few people have been so influential when it comes to styles in jewelry as Queen Victoria.  When Albert gave Victoria an engagement ring in 1840, it was a snake with an emerald head. This not only started a rage for serpent jewelry but it also began the trend for giving engagement rings.

Serpents were now considered a symbol of eternal love and the height of good taste. Before long, all over London ladies were wearing serpent rings, serpent bracelets and serpent brooches, created from gold, silver and alloys.  Often emeralds, rubies, diamonds and sapphires were used as serpent eyes and to encrust the serpent bodies. It became popular to create rings with two entwined serpents, each set with a different stone.

       Mid to late Victorian gold duel serpent ring set  with diamond and sapphire

  Mid to late Victorian gold duel serpent ring set with diamond and sapphire

Soon less affluent women began to make their own serpent bracelets from hair, cord, silk and steel beads. It wasn’t long before the serpent fashion had spread across to the other side of the Atlantic and across Europe.  The fashion for serpent jewelry in all its dazzling array continued throughout the early Victorian era. It peaked in the 1840s but continued into the 1850s.  In the 1850s fashion became very influenced by the ancient world because of an abundance of archeological discoveries and the tours of Egyptian tombs now offered by Thomas Cook.  Serpent jewelry now often took on a more exotic and ancient flavor.

After the death of Albert in 1861, the whole of England was thrown into mourning along with Victoria and this in turn influenced fashions world-wide.  Serpent jewelry was now created in dark materials such as jet, vulcanite, gutta percha, wood, hair work, onyx, ebony, bog oak and French jet.  It was sometimes set with gems, particularly garnet, amethyst, emeralds, diamonds, ruby and pearls. Paste was still popular.

Victorian Gilt Serpent Head Belt Clasp set with amethyst glass eyes and engraved detailing

Victorian Gilt Serpent Head Belt Clasp set with amethyst glass eyes and engraved detailing

‘The naturalistic movement’ had already begun to emerge as early as the 1850s.  It was seemingly an independent and non-mainstream artistic movement.  This movement favored natural motifs, including snakes. The naturalistic movement can really be thought of as the beginning of the Art Nouveau movement, although the Art Nouveau movement is officially considered to have begun in 1890 and last until 1910.  Rene Jules Lalique (1860-1945) was one of the foremost Art Nouveau designers.  He loved to use exotic and natural motifs and he rediscovered the snake motif in his own unique way.  The workmanship in Art Nouveau design was more important than the value of the materials used, and now jewelry was created using an even broader range of materials, such as horn, ivory, tortoise shell and glass but particularly colorful enamel work.

Marie-Odile Briot, writing in the catalogue for a Lalique show at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, said, ‘‘The serpent takes pride of place in Lalique’s heraldry of the feminine.” She continued: ”The serpent is an archaic underworld god, chased out of the Christian Paradise. Just like a gemstone, its plastic perfection makes it a striking sign of the sacred in nature. The snake is the living abstraction of the line which Art Nouveau would see as the underlying ‘biomorphic’ structure of form.”

Serpent necklace by Lalique, owned by the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Serpent necklace by Lalique, owned by the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In the late Victorian era (1890 to 1901) mass production of jewelry was now fully under way.  The Art Nouveau movement, Darwin’s controversial theory and numerous botanical discoveries, led to a strong interest in the natural world.  Serpent motifs were now more colorful, naturalistic and delicate.  Jewelry was set with amethyst, aquamarine, chrysoprase, sapphires, chrysoberyl, opals, moonstones, turquoise, peridot and rubies.  Egyptian and Etruscan design influence was still prevalent and serpent jewelry continued to reflect that.

It seems that serpents have always had a certain air of wickedness and daring, perhaps ever since Eve’s pivotal encounter in the garden.  I suspect that serpent jewelry would often have been worn by a more seductive type of women in the Victorian era. In October 1891, The Ladies Home Journal, reported, “A wiggling gold serpent having overlapping scales of various hues, forms on of the latest queen chains. The tail terminates the swivel for the watch, while the hold holds suspended in its wicked looking jaws a struggling bird of pearls and rubies.”   The writer appears to be taking delight in the wickedness. I believe it is this long cultural association with sensuality, passion and danger that gives serpent jewelry its cache and why it is still so very popular to this day.

Further reading / sources:

http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/jewelry/a-mid-19th-century-gold-diamond-enamel-5224277-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5224277&sid=82a55d91-cc5c-4e10-b72d-601591188114

The Lady’s Home Journal, October 1891

http://www.jewelsdujour.com/2012/10/wrapped-in-history-snake-jewelry/  

 

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.

Pippa Bear
Enamelling techniques of the Art Nouveau era

Enamelling is one of the most expressive and stunning techniques for creating jewelry.  It was used extensively during the Art Nouveau period (1890-1910).  An endless array of colorful and intricate designs were created by applying the enamel in a variety of ways which have become very much associated with the period.  Thanks to enamel’s hard wearing qualities, there are many surviving enameled pieces from the era for us to enjoy.

Enamel is created from silica, quartz, borax, lead and feldspar ground together into a fine power (basically, it is powdered glass). Metal oxides in powder form are then added to produce the colors.  This mixture is then fired at a very high temperature, resulting in the gorgeous, rich colors of enamel work with which we are familiar.  The metals that the enamel work are fired on must be able to withstand such high temperatures. A large amount of time and care is required on the part of the jeweler.  Enamel work truly showcases the jeweler’s artistry perhaps more than any other technique. Enameled jewelry from the Art Nouveau era is highly prized and collectible (and there are of course many replicas.)

There were six main methods of enamel work that were popular in the creation of Art Nouveau pieces.  These were as follows:

Cloisonne

Art Nouveau Cloisonne enamel and glass piece     with bird motif

Art Nouveau Cloisonne enamel and glass piece with bird motif

Cloisonne is created by soldering or arranging fine gold or silver wire onto another metal to create a design.  The main metal it is soldered onto is often copper or bronze in the case of cloisonne, but it can also be gold or silver.  The enamel powder is then used to fill in the partitions created by the wires.  As the enamel tends to shrink when fired, often several firings are required.  At the end, the enamel is sanded to be level with the wire.

Plique-à-jour

Plique-à-jour enamel with small rose-cut diamonds in the veins c1900 by Louis Aucoc (1850-1932)

Plique-à-jour enamel with small rose-cut diamonds in the veins c1900 by Louis Aucoc (1850-1932)

Plique-à-jour is the type of enamel work which most people think of when they think of Art Nouveau jewelry.  It is the most delicate method of enameling and tends to fetch the highest prices.  It is remarkable because the enamel is created with no metal backing, hence the translucent and stained glass like effect of the end result.  To achieve this, the enamel mixture is made to be very viscous.  Sometimes a thin mica or clay backing is used and then removed after the firing.  Thin metal, which burns away during firing, can also be used.  Plique-à-jour looks truly stunning when held up to the light. Plique-à-jour means ‘letting in the day’ in French.

Champlevé

Champlevé enamel work is created by first making cut out hollowed designs in the metal.  These hollowed out places are then filled with the enamel mixture and fired.  This is repeated as many times as necessary and then polished.  Copper and brass bases are often used with Champlevé as well as gold and silver. Champlevé means ‘raised field’ literally in French.

Art Nouveau open work Champlevé button

Art Nouveau open work Champlevé button

Basse-taille

Basse-taille is created by engraving the design into the metal, usually gold or silver.  The entire piece is then covered in translucent enamel so that the engraved low relief design shows through. Different effects can be created by adding different amounts and colors of enamel in different locations. Basse-taille literally means ‘shallow cut’.

Niello

Art Nouveau Niello detail

Art Nouveau Niello detail

Niello is usually classified as a kind of enameling technique although it is not a true enamel.  Instead of the powdered glass enamel, a mixture of sulphur, lead, copper and silver is used.  The design is engraved in the metal and then the mixture is applied.  The piece is then fired.  When it is polished, all of the mixture is removed apart from that which is left inside the engraving.  The result is always black; niello looks different from black enameling because it doesn’t have the same glassy effect and is more metallic seeming.

Taille d’epargné

Taille d’épargne detail

Taille d’épargne detail

Taille d’épargne was popular in the mid 1800s but was also used by Art Nouveau jewelry artisans.  The design was cut deeply into the metal and then filled, fired and polished.  Although any color can be used for the enamel, black or blue was generally favored. Taille d’épargne means “sparing cut” literally in French.

 

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.

Pippa Bear