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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Evaluating Some French Gold Chrysoprase Earrings

France, c. 1825
Earrings, enamelled gold with chrysoprases  V&A Museum

In today’s post I am going to discuss these beautiful earrings, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Firstly, we know they from between 1819 to 1838 as the V&A tells us they are marked.  That will also be how we know they are French.  But even if we didn’t know this, the style is very much from that era and typically Western European.  Many earrings designed like this from the time would have been called ‘day to night’ earrings and you would have been able to detach the bottom part of the earrings if you choose to create a less showy look; V&A doesn’t tell us if this is the case or not but I strongly suspect it is.

Another thing we can surmise is that the gold is a high karat, at least 18 karat, as this would have been usual for gold jewelry of that era and especially in France. The gold also appears to be rose gold, which would mean it would be alloyed with copper.  Rose gold is typical of the entire 1800s and early part of the 1900s.

The stones are chrysoprases, which are a type of chalcedony.  They are really very common in Victorian era jewelry.  The stones in these earrings appear to be cabochons (unfaceted) but it is possible that the larger stones have some subtle faceted around the edges, it is hard to tell with the way the light is shining on them.  

Another notable thing about these earrings is the way they are bordered with grainti.  This is typical of the era, particularly in France where the technique was first revived.

The metalwork itself is openwork and would have probably been made from separate pieces soldered together.

The enamel work is created with a simple technique, I believe by looking at it is Champlevé enamel work, which would be created by making hollowed out indentations in the metal and then filling with the enamel.

The blue flowers are reminiscent of forget-me-nots which was a common motif in that era and could have been meant to convey a message.

Also, very typically of the era, are the findings, which appear to be the front closing kind.  This kind of closure nearly always places earrings as being from before 1882.  However, it is always wise when evaluating a piece of jewelry to look at all the clues as a whole.

Earrings

V&A Museum

Sources / further reading:

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

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O115145/earrings-unknown/

Evaluating the age of earrings by the findings

Looking at the findings of jewelry is just one way of evaluating the age of a piece but can be very helpful.  It seems there is quite a lot of contradictory information out there regarding evaluating the age of earrings by the findings, so I have outlined the basic facts that I’ve uncovered below.  However, I am sure I will be revisiting this post in the future with more details and updates as I have to admit I’m still quite unsure about quite a few things.  And you will find that the drawing above and the information below don’t quite match, even though I’ve used a variety of reliable sources.  So please used this guide with my disclaimer until I’ve learned and experienced more.  If you have any insights about it yourself, please do let me know.

Also, I should say that I’ve used the term ‘invented’ here interchangeably with ‘brought to market’ and ‘patented’ as for our purposes it is sufficient.

Prior to 1882

Before this date there were fundamentally two types of earring findings in use:  one was ‘The Shepherds hook’

Earrings

earrings Italy, 1840-1850
Back showing Shepherd’s hook
V&A Museum

The other kind the hinged kind that went through the back of the ear and hooked in at the front.

Perfect Antique Coral Gold Earrings 14 karat k 1900 Salmon 585 Austrian Antique Vintage Pierced Classic Simple

Coral and gold earrings with front fastening

1882

The kidney wire safety catch was invented.

RODDIN 1888 Catalogue
Reserved for Gari  / Perfect Victorian Coral Gold Earrings 14 karat k 1900 Salmon 585 Austrian Antique Vintage Pierced Classic Simple
Coral and gold earrings with kidney wire safety catch

1894

The screw was invented (this used to have little to nothing to rest against the ear in the early days, many were changed later as this wasn’t comfortable). These are still made today but they are not that common on newer pieces. The threads were thicker in diameter and the nut was much heavier than those that are made today.

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Detail of screw-back earrings.

1901

The lever back with safety catch was invented.

Antique Coral Gold Earrings 8 karat k Salmon 333 Austrian Antique Vintage Pierced Classic Simple Drop

1909

Screw back for non-pierced ears invented.

Earrings

London, 1934
Earrings with silver, opals, rubies and stained chalcedony
Showing screw back for non-pierced ears
V&A Museum

1920

The friction back earring was invented or ‘post and butterfly’.  This is still in use today and is the most common earring type today.

Pair of earrings
Paris, c.1920-1930
Earrings with platinum, gold, enamel, and baguette-and brilliant-cut diamonds
Showing back with post and butterfly back findings
V&A Museum

1934

Spring clip back invented for non-pierced ears.

Earrings

Paris, France 1935-1945
Back of Van Cleef and Arpels earrings showing spring clip back
V&A

1940s

Adjustable hinge clip for non-pierced ears.

1960s

Omega back invented for non-pierced ears.

Sources / further reading:

Coral Jewelry in Artwork 1619 -1939

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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 jewelry. I really got quite carried away finding these beautiful images on the Internet and had to make myself stop! (If I haven’t put the artists name it’s because I don’t know; if you do know please do send me a message or make a comment so I can add it).  I would like to share some of these truly lovely art works with coral jewelry here:
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Robert Lefevre.
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School of Andrea Appiani, Elisa Bonaparte
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Regency children, John Hoppner, 1796.  Girl on left is wearing a coral necklace.
Generally, girls only wore very simple jewelry until about ages 15 or 16.
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Young Regency woman in coral necklace
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 Lady in coral earrings, oil painting circa 1820, currently for sale here
Nicolaas Rubens Wearing a Coral Necklace, Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1619
Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, by John Hoppner 1797
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Portrait Miniature
Christies Sale 7817,
The Manolo March Collection From Son Galcerán, Mallorca
28 – 29 October 2009
London, King Street
Lady Maria Hamilton, Thomas Lawrence, 1802
Little boy with dog and coral necklace (it is unclear if dogs were sometimes given coral collars or if the child is giving the dog his own necklace) – Martin Drolling.
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Portrait of a German Princess, 1828, François-Joseph Kinson

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Nude with coral necklace, 1910, Auguste Macke, Sprengel Museum Hanover

Portrait of a Lady with a Coral Necklace, Charles Webster Hawthorne, 1872-1930
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‘Coral Earrings’ by Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939)