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Posts Tagged ‘antique jewelry’

Carved jet bracelets from the mid-1800s. Image from Jet Jewelry and Ornaments, by Helen Muller (Shire Publications). How chic it would be today to where two or three of these at a time.

I have been collecting jet jewelry for decades. I learned about it through my mother who was an antique jewelry dealer. I’m attracted to the feel of polished jet and I appreciate its long history. I have beads, several brooches, a bracelet, and a fabulous carved jet ring. It’s getting harder and harder to find now, even in the UK.

Jet is a type of coal, a fossilized wood of an ancient tree that covered the earth in the Jurassic period (about 180 million years ago). Jet was used as a jewel and talisman by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Later in England and Europe, it was used in religious jewelry. In America, jet was found in Utah and Colorado and used by the Pueblo people in their jewelry.

Jet is black, lightweight, and although smooth, it has a bit of a tacky feel. Polished it reminds me of patent leather.

It was in Victorian England that jet became associated with mourning. Prince Albert died in 1861, after which Queen Victoria went into a deep and long period of mourning. She wore nothing but black, including jewelry. And with that, jet jewelry was all the rage.

Part of my collection of jet jewelry.

When my mother died in April, I searched my mind for a way to reflect my grief. In our modern world, there is no way to indicate one is in mourning. There used to be traditions – only black clothing for the first year, then mauve in the second year. Everyone wore black to funerals. Now no one does. A black band around the arm was an indication of mourning.

(I did notice that after Queen Elizabeth’s recent death, broadcasters in the UK and of course the royal family immediately started wearing black and some British citizens sported black bands.)

I thought about jet and how it had once been more than just lovely pieces of jewelry. Jet was used as a symbol. I pulled out my collection, chose a brooch and pinned it on to my dress. Every day since, I wear this jet brooch on my right shoulder as a reminder that I have lost someone important to me. No one knows what it means, but I do. The practice of pinning it on every morning is part of my grieving process and I find it comforting. I plan to wear it every day up until the first anniversary of my mother’s death.

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Fabulous jewelry transformation. Image courtesy of Baribault Jewelers.

I wrote a short story last year in which one of my characters took her engagement ring and had it repurposed into what she called her “disengagement ring.” I was inspired by my mother who did that very same thing years ago after her divorce. Turns out my mother was ahead of her time.

Repurposing jewelry is a trend and we’re not talking just engagement rings – Grandma’s diamond brooch? Mon’s sapphire dinner ring? Dad’s cufflinks? All of these family heirlooms could come out of the dark and live a new life and Baribault Jewelers can make it happen!

Based in Glastonbury, Connecticut, Baribault Jewelers is a family owned business and since 1948 they have been offering their customers quality fine jewelry as well as repair. In 2015 they added Repurposing to their options. “It’s time for people to take those family heirlooms out of the vault and transform them into jewelry they’ll want to wear every day,” said Christina Baribault-Ortiz, co-owner of Baribault Jewelers.  “Whether its rings, bracelets, pins, medals, necklaces or earrings, our team is up for the challenge of taking your most meaningful piece and reimaging it to be meaningfully you.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re on the East Coast, West Coast or in-between, the staff at Baribault can work with you. Got something sitting in a safe-deposit box? Give it a new life and yourself a piece of jewelry you will wear every day. Set up a time online for Baribault to give you a call and make that transformation!

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Today, Day Three of the Twelve Days of Tree Ornaments, we have a silver skate charm.

About ten years ago I decided I wanted to learn how to ice skate. So, I took a class and then I took private lessons. I loved bundling up in vintage sweaters, pulling on my bright white new skates and learning how to glide across the ice. Well, it was more learning how to fall; the gliding was hard to come by.

At the time, a friend of mine from work was collecting antique silver charms. We had the love of antique jewelry in common and we often shared our latest finds. I asked her to keep an eye out for a skate charm for me and she said, “Or I could just give you the one I have.” A few days later she came to my office with a box containing a silver skate charm. I love the detailing and the bottom opens! It’s a nice addition to my tree and it holds pleasant memories of my skating adventures and my friend from work.

Tomorrow is another day, another Tree Ornament. Tune in.

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Entrance to the East Meets West exhibit at Legion of Honor Museum.

For a festive treat with plenty of sparkle I recommend the current exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from the Al Thani Collection. On now through February 24, 2019, this exhibit includes 150 pieces of stunning jewelry and other accessories from 17th century India to modern interpretations by western designers.

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Turban ornament, India c. 1900, Silver, diamonds, emerald, pearl.

Much of what’s on view is from the private collection of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah Al Thani, including elaborate necklaces, strands of pearls, aigrettes, brooches, and turban ornaments – the most iconic of East Indian jewelry pieces.

In the west, royal women bore the task of donning the family jewels but in the east it was the men who had the pleasure. Interspersed among the display cases are photos of various decked out Maharajas. These images give an idea of how they wore their finest jewels – chokers at the neck, layers of necklaces covering the chest with dangling stones as big as chandelier drops, brooches adorning their jackets, and to top it all off  turban ornaments often featuring a large emerald, the favored gemstone for its green color. It seems the gentlemen wore their jewelry well and with surprising ease.

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Nizam of Hyderabad necklace. India, 1850-1875. Gold, diamonds, emerald, enamel.

In the early 20th century, with their mutual love of jewelry and gemstones, both the west and east cultures borrowed from each other. European designers began to use cabochon and carved gemstones in their designs, which we see in Art Deco jewelry, and  Maharajas brought their collections to houses such as Cartier to have them remade into modern designs.

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Pen Case and Inkwell. North India, 1575-1600. Gold, diamonds, emeralds, hubbies, sapphires, lacquer.

With six galleries there is much to learn and perhaps get inspired … to add to our gift wish list!

 

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Elephant Brooch, JAR, Paris. 2016. Titanium, diamonds, white cacholong (common opal), sapphires, gold, platinum.

 

East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from the Al Thani Collection is a nice alternative to the holiday madness. Check it out.

https://legionofhonor.famsf.org/exhibitions/east-meets-west

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Easter Egg pendants by Faberge. Note the bunny in the middle. Image from The Art of Faberge by Alexander von Solodkoff.

Holiday jewelry can be fun, although, it has to be understated to be chic. I don’t really go for Christmas baubles but I do like to sport a collection of antique heart charms in February and this time of year I pull out my gold-filled Easter bunny pendant, which is a Faberge copy.

Carl Faberge was the jeweler to the Russian Tsars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known for exquisite quality, he favored enamel and opaque stones like jade and coral. His subjects were also unique –  flowers, animals, and eggs.

Russian royalty liked to give each other gifts at Easter. In 1885 Alexander III asked Faberge to make an egg as a special Easter gift to his wife. The very first egg was simple in white enamel with a surprise gold hen inside. A big hit, the Faberge Easter Egg gift became a tradition and carried on by Alexander’s son, Nicholas II. Over time the eggs became more and more elaborate.

 

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The first Faberge Easter Egg, 1885.

As well as the large eggs, miniature egg pendants were also created by Faberge and many other jewelers at the time. The pendants were popular small Easter gifts to distant family members and important friends.

IMG_20180328_112624My little bunny is a copy by the Museum of Modern Art for their 1996 Faberge in America exhibition. That exhibit came to the de Young (the old building) and my mother and I attended. I couldn’t resist this charming Easter bunny. I think he’s a quiet adornment to celebrate all that is new and fresh in spring.

(On a side note, click here to read a rather disdainful review of Faberge in America by Kenneth Baker for the San Francisco Chronicle.)

Wishing all OverDressedforLife readers a very Happy Easter. 

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Rings in the Cheapside Hoard collection. Image courtesy of the Museum of London.

Rings in the Cheapside Hoard collection. Image courtesy of the Museum of London.

Fashion doesn’t translate down the centuries whereas the jewelry you can incorporate into what you’re wearing, and it translates.

 Carol Woolton, Jewelry Editor for British Vogue.

 Ms. Woolton is speaking of the Cheapside Hoard, a collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelry discovered in a cellar in Cheapside, the City of London in 1912. The collection will be on exhibit at the Museum of London October 11, 2013 through April 27, 2014.

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