The Heart Motif

The Heart Motif

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HEART SYMBOL

The familiar heart shape is an  almost universal symbol of love and has deep historical roots. It is thought to have been originally inspired not only by the shape of the actual heart organ, but also by botanical forms such as the ivy and the fruit of the silphium. It is also thought to be a stylised depiction of a woman’s curves.

Ancient Greek pottery incorporated countless examples of the heart shape and it appeared in early religious art. The heart can be seen in the Istanbul Empress Zoe mosaic dating from 1239 and in stucco reliefs and panels from Persian ruins dating from 90 BC to 637 AD. However, it was not thought to be a metaphor for love until at least 1250, when the earliest known example was shown in an illuminated manuscript.

It wasn’t until the 15th century, however, that it developed into the symbol of love that we know today. The heart symbol truly came to the forefront during the Renaissance. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the heart symbol exploded in popularity and became a prevalent Valentine’s motif.

Today, the heart shape is ubiquitous and never seems to decline in popularity or meaning.

Roman_de_la_poire_heart_metaphor

The earliest known visual depiction of a heart symbol, as a lover hands his heart to the beloved lady, in a manuscript of the Roman de la poire’mid-13th century.

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Royal Banner of the Kings of Denmark (12th or 13th century). The heart shape was frequently used in heraldic designs.

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Heart pierced with cupid’s arrow

THE HEART IN JEWELLERY

During Georgian and Victorian times, the heart was often found in jewellery pieces given as sentimental gifts between family members, close friends and lovers. Hearts were also often seen in engagement and wedding rings. Heart shaped lockets containing sentimental keepsakes such as hair or miniature portraits were particularly popular. Beginning in the early 1800s, Irish Claddagh ring featured a heart clasped in two hands.  These rings came to be widely used to symbolise friendship and love and are worn as friendship, engagement and wedding rings to this day, particularly in Ireland.

As was typical of the Victorians, the heart motif had a nuanced meaning depending on its setting and design. For example, two hearts set alongside one another meant ‘betrothed’. Sapphires were added to represent fidelity or rubies for passion. Diamonds symbolised enduring love or eternity. Many Victorian pieces used the heart symbol alongside other symbols, for examples snakes or birds.  If a flame was used, this represented passion or ‘The Sacred Heart of Christ’.  Various flowers could be incorporated into the piece to convey the specific meaning accorded to each flower.

An ever expressive array of pavé hearts, engraved hearts, hearts encrusted with gems or carved from them adorned the throats, ears, fingers, clothes, bonnets, hair and wrists of our fore-bearers and continued in popularity throughout the 20th century and to this very day.

Below you will find some examples of beautiful heart pieces used in antique and vintage jewellery.

cartierheart

Cartier Diamond Pave Heart Pendant. Elder & Bloom The diamond pave puffy heart by Cartier is an iconic design.

VICTORIAN+HEART-SHAPED+LOCKET+PENDANT

Victorian Heart-Shaped Locket Pendant The slightly domed heart-shaped pendant pavé set with graduated half pearls, glazed locket back displaying hairwork, mount engraved ‘Robert George, Aug 26th 93’, on half pearl set bale together with two belcher-link chain necklaces spaced with pearls, pendant length, including bale, 3.7cm. (3) Source: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18170/lot/191/

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A Diamond, Opal, Pearl, Ruby and Enamel Necklace circa 1890: Source: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/10791/lot/58/

Opal+necklace,+c.+1900+christies

Opal necklace circa 1900 Source Pinterest (Christies auction)

ANTIQUE+OPAL+AND+DIAMOND+NECKLACE

Made in 15ct gold at the start of the 1900’s, it is set with 6 drop opals with one superb heart shaped opal at the bottom, which is surrounded by 10 diamonds. With a further 8 diamonds along the chain, the diamonds total 0.86 carats, and match so well with the opals. The entire length measures 38.5 cm, and this is a truly spectacular piece that will always be cherished. Source: Kalmar: http://www.kalmarantiques.com.au/product/antique-opal-and-diamond-necklace/

ANTIQUE+DIAMOND+BROOCH-PENDANT

An antique diamond brooch/pendant, circa 1900, designed as a stylized heart, the sinuous ribbons of old European-cut diamonds accented by similarly cut diamond-set foliate and floral motifs; Source: http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23415/lot/5/

FURTHER READING:

Lockets

Symbolism in Victorian Jewellery

Pave

The Language of Flowers

The Language of Stones

The Language of Birds

Fede, Claddagh, Gimmel and Puzzle Rings

© Pippa Gaubert Bear and Elder and Bloom LLC, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pippa Bear and Elder and Bloom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Greek Key Motif

The Greek Key Motif

The ‘Greek Key’ motif in jewellery can also be known as the ‘Running Dog’, the ‘Greek Fret’, the ‘Maze Pattern’, the ‘Labyrinth Pattern’ or the ‘Meander Motif’. The name is derived from the River Meander, the historical name for the Büyük Menderes River in contemporary Turkey. The River Meander had many twists and was mentioned by Homer in the Iliad.  There is also said to be a connection between the motif and the Cretan labyrinth.

The earliest examples of the motif have been found in the farming communities in Anatolia, 6000 BC and it was a common pottery design throughout Neolithic Europe. It was the most important symbol in ancient Greece, decorating many temples and objects. Interestingly, the Ancient Chinese developed a similar design known as ‘Chinese Fretwork’. Variations of the motif are also found in African, South American and Native American design. It is also reminiscent of many Celtic design elements. 

Greek-key-vase-Pixabay-1

To the Ancient Greeks, the design symbolised infinity or the ‘eternal flow of things’. It is also said to symbolise friendship, love and devotion and is given as a marriage gift to this day. It is also thought to represent the four cardinal points or the four seasons. 

Most of us will recognise this ubiquitous motif even if we are not aware of the name or the origin.  There are many variations – sometimes the pattern is rectangular and sometimes it is rounded, sometimes there is a simple geometric design and other times is is more elaborate and complex. It may boarder an object or cover a larger area. (If the decoration forms interlaced patterns, it is known as Guilloche.) However, two elements remain consistent – the design is maze-like and repetitive.

Georgian and early Victorian Neo-Classical and Architectural Revival

The Georgian era was distinguished by several great archeological discoveries greatly influencing Georgian jewelry motifs.  When the ruins of Pompeii were excavated from 1706 to 1814 a wave of Neo-classical design influenced almost every area of manufacturing, art and craft. In the 1760s in particular, Roman and Greek motifs, such as Greek Keys and laurel and grape leaves, abounded. The Greek Keys motif was particularly popular on the mountings of cameo. The Greek Keys motif continued in popularity through the Victorian era and remains popular to this day.

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Fine Antique Coral Cameo Brooch within a Frame Accented By Greek Key Motifs And Applied Ropetwist Borders, With Pendant Hook, Mounted in Gold c.1801-1908 Prices4Antiques

Art Deco

The Greek Keys Motif experienced another wave of popularity during the Art Deco era. However, many have said that the designers of the Art Deco era were in fact deriving their ‘Greek Key’ Motifs from the Egyptian designs that were being uncovered during the great archeological discoveries of the era. This makes a certain amount of sense as the Art Deco era is not known for it’s neo-classical styles, besides the Greek Key, but is of course renowned for it’s Egyptian Revival styles. Regardless of the inspiration, the motif is still referred to as ‘Greek Keys.

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Art Deco Greek Keys bangle. 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.

Sources / further reading:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pv7OcE6ewGEC&pg=PA321&lpg=PA321&dq=greek+keys+motif+jewellery&source=bl&ots=At-2LO5KMs&sig=MEFpQjBQABNxQ8DvHYsBQmgc4dA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjaq6LLnoHVAhVEP5oKHTPCBBE4ChDoAQheMAU#v=onepage&q=greek%20keys%20motif%20jewellery&f=false

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=czYLBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=greek+keys+motif+jewellery&source=bl&ots=9Ezd9hv7tm&sig=nowHJE6NHAV2-fv3G8r39QCGk_E&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjaq6LLnoHVAhVEP5oKHTPCBBE4ChDoAQhoMAc#v=onepage&q=greek%20keys%20motif%20jewellery&f=false

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=df3ekgXdupwC&pg=PA46&lpg=PA46&dq=greek+keys+motif+jewellery&source=bl&ots=J7eJloSyR7&sig=zvUpX_FOKxmSzJhoEwsNKFFcMNw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjaq6LLnoHVAhVEP5oKHTPCBBE4ChDoAQhtMAk#v=onepage&q=greek%20keys%20motif%20jewellery&f=false

http://orderofsplendor.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/tiara-thursday-romanian-greek-key-tiara.html

https://www.gemsociety.org/article/georgian-period-jewelry/

 

 

 

The Hand Motif

Hands, singular or clasped, have been a recurring motif throughout Western jewelry history, especially in Georgian and Victorian times but continuing throughout the 20th century and to this day. The hand motif has long symbolized a multitude of things, including affection, loyalty, solidarity, family, strength and love.

The positions of the fingers and hands have often been thought to be indicative of the message, particularly in Italian jewelry and Victorian era jewelry (the Victorians loved the use of symbols).  For example, first and little fingers pointing out would indicate protection from the evil eye.  First finger extended could indicate a warning.  A closed hand could convey a message of affection. Clasped hands are indicative of love and loyalty.

Fede, Gimmel and Claddagh Rings of course employed the hand motif; please see my previous article to learn more.

A selection of hand motif jewelry. Live Auctioneers.

A selection of hand motif jewelry. Live Auctioneers.

Rock Crystal, gold and emerald Hand Motif pendant, Spain, 17th century. Metropolitan Museum.

Rock Crystal, gold and emerald Hand Motif pendant, Spain, 17th century. Metropolitan Museum.

In Victorian times, the hands would often be holding flowers or fruit as in this brooch below.

Victorian Vulcanite Hand Motif Brooch (from 'Morning Glory Antiques')

Victorian Vulcanite Hand Motif Brooch (from ‘Morning Glory Antiques’)

Often the hand would appear as a motif in mourning jewelry, especially in Georgian and Victorian times.  For example, this piece below shows a hand holding a funeral wreath.

14 k Victorian Enamel Mourning Pin / Fiona Kenny Antiques.

14 k Victorian Enamel Mourning Pin / Fiona Kenny Antiques.

Sometimes, the entire arm as well as the hand would form part of the motif.

1820, coral gemset brooch. From '1stdibs'

1820, coral gemset brooch. From ‘1stdibs’

During the Art Deco era, the hand would often display painted red nails and sometimes be wearing its own miniature jewelry in turn.

1930 Celluloid Hand Motif Brooch

1930 Celluloid Hand Motif Brooch

Here is a gorgeous Victorian hand motif necklace currently for sale in the Elder and Bloom Store. Note the clenched fingers, denoting affection and loyalty and it is holding a barbell, which symbolizes great strength.  Please click on the image below to learn more.

14 karat gold Victorian Hand Motif Necklace Watch Chain / Click on image to find out more.

14 karat gold Victorian Hand Motif Necklace Watch Chain / Click on image to find out more.

Sources / Further Reading:

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/hand-motifs-in-jewelry/

http://www.jewisharttoday.com/jewish-jewelry/the-hamsa-hand-motif-in-kabbalah-jewelry.php

Astronomical Motifs

Astronomically influenced motifs in jewelry have been popular since the Georgian era. The revolution in science and astronomy during the 19th century in particular created a fashion for stars, star-bursts and crescent moon motifs that continue to be worn to this day.

Crescent Moons

The crescent moon became an especially popular brooch motif in the late Victorian era.  Crescent moon brooches were often set with diamonds but could be set with paste, garnets or other gems.  In that era, there was an explosion of novelty and whimsical new designs and crescent moons could also be topped with a a wide variety of other motifs. The term  ‘Honeymoon Brooch’ normally  refers to a brooch with a crescent moon and a bee motif but it has also come to refer to any brooch with a crescent moon topped with another motif.

Brooch

The simple crescent moon was a popular motif in the late Victorian era
England, c. 1890
Gold set with diamonds
V&A Museum

A Victorian diamond bird brooch

Diamond Victorian brooch
Christie’s Sale 5890

A late Victorian diamond brooch

A late Victorian diamond brooch
Christie’s Sale 5891

A victorian diamond brooch

Victorian Diamond Brooch
Christie’s Sale 5894

Stars and star bursts

Brooch

England, 19th century
Pique brooches
V&A Museum

Brooch

England, late 19th century, Brooch, gold, moonstones, silver

V&A Museum

AN ANTIQUE DIAMOND PENDANT

19th century diamond pendant
Christie’s 3026

AN EARLY 20TH CENTURY NATURAL PEARL AND DIAMOND BROOCH, BY CARTIER

AN EARLY 20TH CENTURY NATURAL PEARL AND DIAMOND BROOCH, BY CARTIER
Christie’s Sale 5968

A mid 19th century diamond bracelet/brooch/pendant

A mid 19th century diamond bracelet/brooch/pendant
Christie’s Sale 7463

A late 19th century diamond star brooch

A late 19th century diamond star brooch
Christie’s Sale 7463

A late 19th century ruby, diamond, pearl and enamel pendant

A late 19th century ruby, diamond, pearl and enamel pendant
Christie’s Sale 6423

Sources / further reading:

http://books.google.de/books?id=WVUSj7-ldtMC&pg=PA44&lpg=PA44&dq=the+honeymoon+brooch&source=bl&ots=XsrQjCObaV&sig=8Z02tYXkL6mQIFBQATm5WwmGOKk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dktIUcnsA8TZtAa-iYCQAg&ved=0CFEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=the%20honeymoon%20brooch&f=false

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Aesthetic_Period_1885-1901

Art Deco Motifs

The Art Deco Era (1920-1939) was defined by certain distinguishing characteristics when it came to jewelry design.  Below, I am going to list the most common themes, influences or motifs.

Architectural

New advances in architecture created more streamlined and bold forms which were influential to Art Deco jewelry

AN ART DECO BROOCH AND EARRINGS, BY JDB

AN ART DECO BROOCH AND EARRINGS, BY JDB (Elizabeth Taylor’s Collection)
Christie’s Sale

GIARDINETTI (‘Little Garden’)

‘Giardinetti’ (from the Italian, meaning ‘little garden’) was another continuing theme. A giardinetti piece had tiny flowers arranged in a vase, pot or basket, usually made from precious stones. Also stylized flowers without vases or pots or baskets were often seen.

They had been popular since the Georgian era, but now had a decidedly Art Deco style.

Brooch

Paris, c. 1927-1940
Ostertag
Brooch platinum, white gold, baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emerald
V&A Museum

Egyptian

There was another, and perhaps most popular, Egyptian Revival movement in the Art Deco era.

An Egyptian revival sapphire and diamond scrab ring

An Egyptian revival sapphire and diamond scarab ring, c. 1925
Christie’s Sale 7804

Geometric

Bold and geometric designs were characteristic of the era.

Ring

USA, c. 1920-1930
Ring, platinum set with diamonds and sapphires
V&A Museum

Abstract

Abstract art (Cubistism, Constructivists and Futurists,  Suprematism from Russia, Dutch de-Stijl and African primative) was highly influential.

Bangle

Paris, c. 1925
Bangle, lacquered brass
V&A Museum

Machinery

Cars, machinery and machine parts were influential motifs

Brooch

England, c. 1937
Brooch, platinum set with diamonds
V&A Museum

Figurative

These consisted of hands, animals, birds, ladybirds, bouquets of flowers, cartoon characters and other novelty items

Brooch

Paris, c. 1930-1940
Cartier
Brooch with enameled gold, diamonds and carved coral
V&A Museum

Eastern

Chinese and Japanese motifs and styles were popular, as well as Arabesque themes

AN ART DECO DIAMOND, SAPPHIRE, JADE AND ONYX BRACELET

AN ART DECO DIAMOND, SAPPHIRE, JADE AND ONYX BRACELET
Christie’s Sale 2306

Bows

Bow motifs continued to be popular

An Art Deco diamond bow brooch

Diamond Bow Brooch
Christie’s Sale 6704

Native American

Native American design was influential, in particular giving rise to long, woven sautoir necklaces.

AN ART DECO PEARL, DIAMOND AND ONYX SAUTOIR

AN ART DECO PEARL, DIAMOND AND ONYX SAUTOIR
Christie’s Sale 3011

 

The Female Form in Art Nouveau Jewelry

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Alfons Mucha, 1898
‘Dance’

Lady with Fan - Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt
Lady with Fan c. 1918

‘All art is erotic’ – Gustav Klimt

The Art Nouveau Movement (1890-1910) began at a time of great awakening in the attitudes and behaviors of Victorian era people.  Attitudes towards women were transforming rapidly and the early suffrage movements for women were already beginning in England. Women were experiencing more financial and political control and were breaking away from their traditional roles as objects to be repressed, controlled or utilized.  Femininity and sensuality now became core cultural values.  Gentle, flowing and frequently erotic sensibilities were expressed abundantly in art, design, literature and music. ‘The Art Nouveau Movement’, ‘Stile Liberty’, ‘Sezessionstil’, ‘The Aesethic Movement’, ‘The Arts and Crafts Movement’, ‘The Naturalism Movement’ and ‘Jugendstil’, along side the ‘Pre-Raphelites’, are just some of the terms given to or related to this cultural avalanche of beauty and art.

File:Lalique dragonfly.jpg

Work by Rene Lalique.

Jewelery, becoming altogether less structured in every way, was an expressive outlet for this new explosion of creativity. As women became free of the traditional restrictions of previous fashions, widely adopting ‘rational dress’ and looser hair styles, this new liberated female form was given expression in art and was a popular motif in the jewelry of the time. Long, flowing hair was the most commonly found feature as this seemed to be symbolic of all things feminine and carefree. Brooches and pendants were the most common type of jewelry to be decorated with the female form.

Rene Lalique Jewelry Pendant

Pendant, Rene Lalique

The most popular female motif was the face of a young woman in profile, but the female form was expressed in every way, fully nude or loosely clothed.  Sometimes the woman would be presented with birds, flowers and insects; sometimes, as a hybrid creature.  Regardless of the form she took, she would always be shown to be romantic and ethereal, with the sublime beauty and grace that we love about all things Art Nouveau.

Pendant

Paris, 1901
Georges Van der Straeten
V&A Museum

Pendant

England, c. 1900-1901
A.C.C. Jahn
Pendant, partially gilded silver, ivory, opal and half-pearls
V&A Museum

Ring

England, 1901
A.C.C Jahn
Ring with chased gold and opal
V&A Museum 

Brooch of Leaves and Berries

Lalique, c. 1902, brooch ivory, enamels, gold, opals
Brooch, Lalique

Sources / Further Reading:

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

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/art-nouveau-and-the-erotic/ 

http://www.antiquevaluers.co.uk/old_harlequins/articles/nouveau.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage

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

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

http://rlalique.com/rene-lalique-biography

The Art Nouveau Whiplash Motif

Embroidery, Hermann Obrist: The Lone Cyclamen
Munich City Museum
note the Art Nouveau ‘Whiplash’ motif

Brooch

France, c. 1901

Brooch, enameled copper set with opals and pearls

V&A Museum

The Art Nouveau Movement (1890-1910) was a design movement defined by many motifs, but none more so than the Whiplash Motif. The whiplash and curved motifs of Art Nouveau are seen as universally characteristic and are an easy way of recognizing an Art Nouveau piece. (Arts and Crafts Movement Jewelery, which many would define as a cousin of Art Nouveau, also uses the whiplash motif to a slightly lesser extent. Also it is important to note that there are many other names for Art Nouveau that I will be discussing in future posts).

Art Nouveau interior, featuring a profusion of whiplash and curved motifs

Whilst not all Art Nouveau design pieces contain whiplash or curved motifs, they are generally considered the most commonly found design feature.  Some would say Art Nouveau curves have their roots in Rococo Scroll Work, others would say they are inspired by Japanese or Celtic design elements.  Whilst all of these are no doubt true, I have always thought of the curves of Art Nouveau design as originating from something deep within us and to be a reflection of our biological nature. Arguably, all design is exactly this, but the curves of Art Nouveau seems to emanate from our deepest levels rather than directly referencing other design movements. These spirals, curves and whiplash-like shapes can be found in both the natural and man-made worlds.

For example, have a look for the Art Nouveau-like curves in the following:

Fibonacci_curve

Now, spot the whiplash and curved motifs in the following beautiful Art Nouveau jewelry pieces:

Pendant
Pendant gold, enamel, opal, pearl, diamonds
Lalique, c.1901
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pendant

France c. 1900, Lucien Gautrait.

Gold decorated with ‘plique-à-jour’ enamel and set with rose- and brilliant-cut diamonds,

opals and emeralds with an opal drop

V&A Museum

Pendant

Germany, c.1903

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

V&A Museum

Brooch

France, c. 1903. George Fouquet.

Brooch, gold, silver, enamel, pearls and rose- and brilliant-cut diamonds

V&A Museum

Sources / further reading:

http://paterry.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/constructing-growth-spirals/

http://thetextileblog.blogspot.de/2009/05/art-nouveau-whiplash.html

http://binarybeam.blogspot.de/2012/04/art-nouveau-new-art.html

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

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/art-nouveau-and-the-erotic/

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/study-room-resource-art-nouveau/

The Major Jewelry Motifs of the Georgian Era

There were many popular motifs during the Georgian era (1714-1837) , many of which were traditional from prior to the Georgian era and also continued to be popular through subsequent eras and are still worn today. However, there were certain jewelry motifs during the Georgian era which were particularly recurring. It may be that I have missed one or more, in which case I will be returning to this post to update. Also, as I find representative pictures for more of the common motifs, I will add them.

Here are some of the major motifs:

CRESCENTS AND STAR-BURSTS

With the new interest in astronomy, these cosmic themed motifs became popular.

An early 19th century diamond locket brooch

An early 19th century diamond locket brooch
Of old brilliant-cut diamond starburst design, the central locket compartment enclosing a later fishing fly, circa 1820  Christie’s Sale 5642

NATURALISTIC

(included flowers, acorns, wheat, birds, fruit, leaves and feathers)

Naturalistic jewellery, decorated with realistic flowers, fruit, leaves, plants or feathers, appeared in the early 19th century along with the ‘Romantic’ movement. Particular meaning was often attached to specific plants.

A Georgian topaz brooch

A Georgian topaz flower brooch (note the ribbon)
 circa 1820,
Christie’s Sale 5383
Jewels at South Kensington
7 October 2008

Brooch

Paris, France c. 1820-1840
V&A Museum
The brooch has rose, forget-me-not, oakleaf and acorn motifs. The rose motif presumably symbolises love while the oak would represent strength and longevity. These and the forget-me-nots may relate to the strand of hair in a locket in the back and it is possible that the brooch was intended as a wedding gift. The brooch is in the tradition of European romantic jewellery of the first half of the nineteenth century.

BOWS AND GARLANDS AND RIBBONS AND SCROLLS AND ‘GIRANDOLE’

Bows, garlands, ribbons and scrolls were a regularly repeated motif.
This example below with the three drop gems is called a ‘girandole’
which was very popular in the Georgian era.
Bodice ornament and pair of earrings

Girandole bow bodice ornament and pair of earrings set with topazes,backed with foil, and sapphires. All the stones are set in gold.
Circa 1760, France
V&A Museum

MOURNING / MEMENTO MORI

There is a great deal of surviving mourning jewelry from the era.  Many of the motifs were urns, Neo-classical plinths and obelisks, weeping willows, angels, cherubs, names and dates of the dead and portraits of the dead.  Often these motifs were incorporated into locks and medallions.  Hair work was often incorporated in a variety of forms. ‘Memento Mori’ means ‘remember you will die’ in Latin and people of the era would wear skulls and coffins to remind themselves.

Bracelet

c. 1775-1800
V&A England
Gold set with seed pearls, watercolour on ivory and hair

LOVE TOKENS

Motifs used in love tokens included cupids, doves, the ‘altar of love’, butterflies, romantic messages, initials and names.

Also the ‘crowned heart’ was popular, signifying a lover’s rule over the heart.

Necklace

V& A Italy
Date:
ca. 1810-20 (made)
Shell and gold bracelet with cupids, doves and the altar of love

Necklace

France, ca. 1810
Butterfly bracelet, gold set with hardstone mosaic panels
V&A museum

Pendant

Brooch with bow and dove motif
Portugal ca. 1750
Pastes (glass) set in silver openwork
V&A Museum

CROSSES / RELIGIOUS

Necklace

Gold, Turquoise and diamond cross ca. 1830 England, Britain
V&A Museum

ACROSTIC – THE LANGUAGE OF STONES

Sentimental message were also conveyed using the initial letter of each stone in the design. This is referred to as ‘acrostic’. This particular pendant below has the stones of Lapis Lazuli, glass in imitation of Opal, Vermeil ( the old name for garnet ) and Emerald which spell LOVE.

Pendant

V&A Museum  England, Britain
Date: ca. 1830
Materials and Techniques:
Gold with lapis lazuli, glass in imitation of opal, garnet, emerald and gold

GIARDINETTI (‘Little Garden’)

‘Giardinetti’ (from the Italian, meaning ‘little garden’) was another popular theme. A giardinetti piece had tiny flowers arranged in a vase, pot or basket, usually made from precious stones. Also stylized flowers without vases or pots or baskets were often seen.

Ring


England,
c. 1730-60
Materials and Techniques:
Gold and silver set with rubies and diamonds
V&A Museum

NEO-CLASSICAL

Popular neo-classical motifs included arrows, quivers, lyres, Greek keys, laurel leaves, eagles, Greek arches, the phoenix and scenes and characters from Roman and Greek mythology

HANDS

Hands, singular or clasped, were another recurring motif.

The hand motif has long symbolized a multitude of things, including affection, loyalty, solidarity, family and love.

Ring

Europe
c. 1800-50
Gold gimmel fede ring with three pivoted hoops, joined by a small pin. V&A Museum

SNAKES

Symbolizing eternal love

Ring


England
c. 1800-30
Gold ring set with rubies
This ring may once have been owned by George IV (1762-1830). He may be wearing it in a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence in the Wallace Collection (559).
V&A Museum

LOVERS’ EYE AND MINIATURES

Popular from the late 1700s, Lovers’ eyes were miniatures, normally watercolour on ivory.  They depicted the eye or eyes of a loved one or family member. They were worn as bracelets, brooches, pendants or rings. Miniature portraits were also popular. Miniature portraits were often worn as brooches or  inside lockets.

Eye miniature00.jpg

File:George Engleheart - Portrait of Unknown Woman - circa 1780 - Victoria & Albert Museum.jpg

George Engleheart – Portrait of Unknown Woman – circa 1780 – Victoria & Albert Museum

ARCHAEOLOGICAL REVIVAL

An archaeological revival gold head ornament, by Castellani

Archaeological revival gold head ornament, by Castellani
Christie’s Sale 6968

Between the years of 1800 to 1889, there were a number of important archaeological findings which greatly influenced jewelry design. These included Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek (Hellenistic) and Roman.

Sources / further reading: (please also look at my list of sources you will find in the drop down menu at the top of this page)

http://gemgossip.wordpress.com/jewelry-history/

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/costume-jewelry/egyptian

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

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

http://www.webring.org/l/rd?ring=hairworkwebring2;id=3;url=http%3A%2F%2Fsentimentaljewelry.blogspot.de%2F2006%2F06%2Feye-miniatures.html

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Girandole

http://www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Crescent