• Black Materials

    Black Materials

    Here is an overview of the different black materials used in vintage and antique jewellery.

     

    JET

    Jet is fossilised wood. For more information see here.

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    Simple jet bead circa 1910. Elder and Bloom.

    ONYX

    Onyx is a variety of chalcedony. For more information, see here.

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    Victorian Onyx pendant locket. Elder and Bloom.

    BERLIN IRON

    Berlin iron is made from cast iron and delicate wire pieces. For more information, see here.

     

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    Germany, Cast iron earrings. c. 1820-1830 V&A Museum

    ENAMEL

    Enamel is fired ground glass. In theory, almost all methods of enamelling can produce black items but generally it is en grisaille, niello and taille d’epargne which are known for being worked in black. (Technically, niello work is not true enamel but is usually classified as such)

    For more information, see here.

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    Niello work.

    GUTTA PERCHA

    Gutta Percha is a type of rubber derived from the gum of Asian trees. It is usually molded rather than carved and mould lines can be visible when examined carefully. When rubbed vigorously, it gives off an acrid, rubber smell. It is very flexible and durable and can produce a wide variety of jewellery items. Upon close inspection, you can see that it is actually brownish-black. Popular through the mid and late Victorian era, it made its debut at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

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    Gutta Percha Brooch.

    VULCANITE

    Vulcanite is vulcanised India rubber formed using sulphur. It was first patented in 1844 by Charles Goodyear. Vulcanite is almost always moulded, as opposed to carved. It is actually white and can be dyed to produce a variety of colours, often in imitation of coral and tortoiseshell. Most commonly, however, it was dyed black and used in mourning jewellery as a substitute for jet. Over time, black vulcanite usually turns dark brown. It is lightweight and warm to the touch. It will develop a sheen with polishing but is never as glossy as jet. Like jet, it will leave a brown streak on porcelain or unglazed tile.

     

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    Victorian Vulcanite cameo pendant.

    FRENCH JET

    French jet is black or very dark red glass. It can sometimes be backed with foil or attached to a metal setting but is most commonly found as beaded necklaces. It first made its appearance in the early part of the 19th century but came into its own in the 1860s when the techniques to produce it were perfected. It was produced in France, Germany, Austria, England and what is now the Czech Republic. It is cold to the touch and heavier than jet and has a distinctive glitter. Sometimes it is roughly moulded or carved to further simulate jet. Upon close examination, it can often be identified by tiny chips. If you gently tap it against your teeth, you should be able to identify the chink as glass.

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    French jet necklaces. Elder and Bloom.

    BOG OAK

    Like jet, bog oak is fossilised wood. It is usually mined from the bogs of Ireland and is not necessarily oak but can be fir, yew or pine. Similar in feel to jet, it is lightweight and warm to the touch but generally has a more matte finish. It was used from the early 1800s and grew in popularity after 1852 when techniques involving heat and pressure were invented to mold it and create detail. It can be carved or moulded. It is generally found in mourning jewellery as a substitute for jet but can also often be found with Irish motifs in the form of souvenir jewellery.

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    Victorian bog oak brooch.

    TORTOISESHELL

    With age, tortoiseshell can darken enough to appear black. See here and here.
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    Tortoiseshell pique pendant. Elder and Bloom.

    © 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.
  • The Edwardian Era

    The Edwardian Era
    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 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 a 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

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    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).

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    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.

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

    BLACK AND WHITE

    Around 1910, 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.

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    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.

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    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 were 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.

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    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, 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.

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    Edwardian Lady appearing to have a buckle in her hair.

    MIX AND MATCH

    Parures were no longer in fashion as women wore 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’.

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    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 all be 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

    Antique Jewelry Care
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    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.

    © 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 Spanish 18 karat Gold Coral Earrings

    I couldn’t resist sharing these rare and beautiful earrings that I just put in the store. Please click here to find out more about them.

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    If you are interested in learning more about antique and vintage coral please see here and here. 

  • Hair Pins

    Hair Pins

    In Victorian times, hair pins were an essential part of every woman’s attire. Respectable women over the age of 15 or 16 were expected to wear their hair up and hair pins were a useful tool as well as desirable ornamentation. Hairpins continued to be worn throughout the Edwardian era but fell out of favour with the shorter hairstyles of the 1920s. However, just as many women have continued to wear their hair long, hair pins have continued to be worn to this day. 

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    A simplified version of the hair pin is still worn today although often only as a way of holding thick hair in place (for example when worn to hold a chignon) and not as a decoration in itself. Today’s most common incarnation of the hair pin is the everyday ‘bobby pin’ or ‘hair grip’.

    Traditionally, hair pins came in matching pairs and could be worn in a variety of ways – horizontally, vertically or at an angle. They could be worn alone or as part of more elaborate ornamentation. Simpler ones were worn by day whilst evening hair ornamentation could be highly decorative.

    Hair pins generally came in two varieties:

    ONE-POINT HAIR PINS.

    These are comprised of a single long, straight piece, with a point at one end and usually an ornament on the other.

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    One point hair pins. Currently for sale at Elder and Bloom.

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    During the Renaissance period a type of one stick hairpin known as a ‘Bodkin’ was worn by the wealthier classes. It was made of precious metals and was often embellished with diamonds and pearls and other gemstones.

    TWO-POINT HAIR PINS.

    These are comprised of a ornament with two prongs. (Two-point hair pins will sometimes be called ‘hair combs’ because they are very similar to hair combs but have only two teeth and not multiple teeth.)

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    Two point hair pin. Previously sold by Elder & Bloom.

     

    See also:

    Aigrettes

    Hair Combs

    Myrtle Crowns

    © 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.

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  • Earring styles

    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.

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

    Note: Some stud earrings have threaded posts which can be indicative of a finer piece.

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    3.50 Carat European Cut Diamond Stud Earrings, c. 1900. Photo courtesy of LangAntiques.com (Note the ‘threaded posts’)

    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

     

     

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