Archive for Antique Jewellery
As regular readers here know I love going to auctions and thats where I buy much of my vintage jewellery. At a recent auction I acquired a parcel of jewellery which had this unusual antique penannular cloak pin in it and Id like to find out more about this piece.
What I know about this Cloak pin
This cloak pin is huge compared with most you see from the Victorian era and I am thinking it is much older than that. This cloak pin is penannular in design with the fastening ring not being a complete circle having ends with do not quite join up but just touch. It measures about 16 cms long and is almost 7.5 cms wide maximum. This pin weighs about 44 grams. Due to this larger size it could have been worn on heavier fabrics or as a status symbol.
This penannular pin is made of silver ( Ive tested it there are no hallmarks). It has been handmade by a craftsman, clearly not a mass produced piece of jewellery. There is evidence that this pin has been worn for many years indicating that it is antique, pins like this are not unusually worn regularly these days. The design is interesting with a wriggle design on the penannular ring and a two birds in tree design on the triangular end.
What I would like to find out
Can anyone help me find out more? How old is this silver brooch and where would it have been made? The bird in tree decoration , I presume it is Celtic or Norse ? Does this decoration have any specific meaning ? Does the wriggle work on the ring help with dating this silver pin?
Please do get in touch if you can help and I will add all information received here.
Jewellery set with agate panels was particularly popular during the Victorian era. Queen Victorian had a passion for all things Scottish and set a fashion for jewellery from Scotland and set with Scottish Agate. I have recently acquired several pieces of Antique Jewellery set with agate. Agate is a semi precious hardstone and is prized for its colour and pattern.
Agate Jewellery normally comes in naturalistic colours, browns , creams and greens. Just for a change I have this amazing example is dusky pink and white colours.
This brooch has wonderful detailing in the agate and is set into a gold tone frame.
Other pieces of jewellery are set with agate, Here is a lovely bracelet:
And a stick pin with a piece of eye agate in the center. Eye agate is so called due to its looking like an eye with the white band and the dark center.
Agate is quite easy to care for – you should be able to just dust it clean or wipe with a damp cloth and polish with a dry one if necessary. Take care of the metal surround as that may need different treatment.
Have you heard the term “Pinchbeck” and wondered what it meant?
Pinchbeck is named after its inventor Christopher Pinchbeck who was a London clock maker and is thought to have lived 1670 to 1732 and invented this gold like material in the 1720s. Pinchbeck is a metal alloy which consists of Copper, Zinc and Brass and may also have a light wash of real gold over the top. It has the advantage of retaining its bright gold colour and not fading like many of the other gold substitutes available at the time. Pinchbeck is a metal alloy which looks like and imitates but was much cheaper than the real thing. At the time Pinchbeck was first produced the only legally used standards of gold were 18 and 22 carat . Nine carat gold was not introduced as a legal standard until 1854. Also many of the worlds largest gold sources were not discovered until the Victorian era so a cheap and reliable gold substitute was very popular.
Pinchbeck could be made into very intricate and detailed shapes needed for imitating fine jewellery. It is also lighter in weight than gold an so large pieces of jewellery made from Pinchbeck can be light to wear.
During the the Victorian era Pinchbeck faded from use being replaced by 9 carat gold, rolled gold, gold plated and gold filled alternatives. To the best of my knowledge no Pinchbeck jewellery has been made since the 1800s making every piece you find a genuine piece of antique jewellery.
Identifying Pinchbeck Jewellery:
Looking at a piece of old jewellery and wondering if its pinchbeck? .These facts will help you :
All pinchbeck is Victorian or before
Pinchbeck retains its bright gold colour even today, it does not go rusty.
It is lightweight compared with gold
It is often ( but not always) very intricate in design
Care of Pinchbeck Jewellery
Always clean your antique jewellery with regard to all the materials it is set with. For example if there is a shell cameo, pearls or other more delicate material set into the piece clean with regard to the most delicate material rather than the pinchbeck.
I like to firstly dry clean with a very soft toothbrush or clean makeup brush to remove all dust and loose dirt. If your jewellery still needs a clean then you can lightly dampen the brush with a little clear liquid cleaner and finish with a brush dampened in clean water to rinse. Pat dry and leave in a warm place for the last of the moisture to evaporate. Do not use silver dip . I would personally avoid an ultra sonic machine for all pinchbeck jewellery as some of the joints and seams may not stand the treatment.
Buying Pinchbeck Jewellery.
I like to offer Pinchbeck Jewellery in my webshop over at www.AntiquesAvenue.co.uk but rarely have more than 2 or 3 pieces available as it is quite rare. All will be in the Antique Jewellery section or you can enter Pinchbeck into the search box.
Looking at some of my lovely old vintage and antique jewellery earlier today I was struck by the rainbow of colours in front of me. both fine and costume jewellery can be found in every colour imaginable . Traditionally a rainbow has seven colours; Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. I always remember this by the first letters of the phrase” Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain”.
The Jewellery Rainbow
Red: Rubies and Garnets
Orange: Amber, Carnelian,
Yellow: Citrines, Gold
Green: Emeralds, Malachite,Jade, Aventurine, Chrysoprase
Blue: Aquamarine, Sapphire, Turquoise
Indigo: paler amethysts , some Lapis Lazuli
More Colours for jewellery
Pink: Rose Quartz, Coral
White: Silver, Platinum, Moonstone, Pearl
Brown: Smokey Quartz, Tigers Eye
Black: Jet, Hematite,
Multi colour: Opal, Mother of Pearl
Lets take a look at some colourful Antique Jewellery:
Want more colours? There is always Antique Costume Jewellery to take a look at . How about bright Pink with these Lucite Brooches?
Strangely there is only one entry for AntiquesAvenue A-Z of Vintage and Antique Jewellery materials. It seems that D has been reserved for possible the most sought after material of all Diamonds.
Being one of the most popular and expensive gemstones you can read all about diamonds all over the Internet but most are promoting large and very expensive diamonds from several hundred pounds up to a few million for the very largest diamonds. Look carefully and there is some super antique and vintage jewellery about set with smaller diamonds which can be found much more affordable prices. Changing from my normal format of discussing the material , Here is AntiquesAvenue’s guide to buying affordable Antique and Vintage diamond jewellery.
A little bit of Diamond Jewellery History
In ancient times all Diamonds came from India and this was the major source of diamonds until the 1720s when diamonds were found in Brazil followed by discoveries in South Africa in the 1860s. All sorts of mystical and magical properties have been attributed to diamonds at different times including plague prevention. Diamonds being the hardest gemstone were difficult to cut and polish and so older diamonds are not as heavily faceted as they are today. Simpler cuts were used and looking at the way a diamond is cut can help tell us the earliest date that it could have been mounted and faceted. The Georgians tried several techniques to make diamonds appear whiter and more brilliant for example setting them into silver and giving them a white foil backing. Of course as with much antique jewellery, diamonds can be re-worked at various stages in their lives so that an ancient diamond could have been re cut in the Victorian ear to bring the shape more up to date. For example the Rose cut diamond popular in the 18th and 19th centuries appear quite grey next to a similar diamond which has been given a more modern cut such as the brilliant.
Affordable Antique diamond jewellery dating from before the late 1880s is not really available in any quantity as it is at that time when it when it became available to those with a little disposable income. Simple antique diamond jewellery set with small diamonds such as brooches, bangles and earrings started to be mass produced and it is these that we can now find affordable today. Look out for diamonds which are used as an accent to other stones as in this lapis ring. A sparkle of diamond can go a long was an smaller diamonds are relatively cheap in price.
Looking to but a genuine piece of antique jewellery set with diamonds? I suggest that you consider and antique brooch. Antique gold brooches from the Victorian and Edwardian eras and set with small diamonds can be bought for under £100. You may also be able to find a 9 carat gold ring with other gemstones and diamond points for around this sort of price too. I’ve just checked the antiquesavenue.co.uk website and I even have one antique stick pin with a real diamond point ( a tiny diamond) for £25, now that has got to be a bargain.
As the 20th century progressed diamond cutting was improved and new shapes were introduced. Just take a look at some expensive diamond jewellery from the art deco era to see the range of shapes and sizes available by that time. These include Baguettes and Marquise shapes.
The other technical innovation of the 20th century which improved diamond jewellery was the ability use Platinum to set the diamonds into giving a real white colour to show them off to their best advantage.
Looking for affordable vintage diamond jewellery? The best bargains to be had at the moment are in pieces of 9 carat jewellery from the second half of the last century. For example you can get rings set with smaller diamonds from about £50. I’ve just checked the antiquesavenue.co.uk website and see I have rings with diamonds in from £45 upwards.
If you want the look of diamond but cant afford a single large gem then I suggest taking a look at jewellery with clusters of diamonds. The reason is that several small diamonds adding up to one carat in diamond size will be the fraction of the cost of a one carat diamond.
I’ve two more wonderful antique brooches to show you , a sentimental Love brooch and Reynolds Angel. These are really good examples of genuine antique jewellery which can be found in excellent condition and at a reasonable price to collect or give as a gift which can be treasured for generations to come.
Victorian Love Brooch
A superb example of Victorian sentimental Jewellery. This brooch is pretty but looks quite like a standard Victorian silver brooch until you realised that the front can be opened and inside is the message “With Love”. To me this is a love token given as a symbol of a hidden or forbidden love. Perhaps the lady was quite young and her parents did not approve of her chosen suitor. Alternatively this could have been given to a servant girl as many servants were forbidden from having “gentleman callers”. Whatever the history of this antique silver brooch it has clearly been treasured and kept safe. The hallmarks date it to 1895 but looking at the condition you could almost believe it was new
Reynolds Angel Brooch
A rare and beautiful antique brooch depicting one of Joshua Reynolds angel drawings. Reynolds originally painted his angel pictures ( actually a portrait of a little girl to which he added wings) during the 1700s. This was a popular image used in silver during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Today’s blog is prompted by a question from one of my readers:
Hi there, Can you advise me on how to clean up an antique cut steel key belt?
Have you seen cut steel Jewellery. Its not made now but was very popular in Georgian times and Victorian times as it sparkles like diamonds in candle light. Today you might think that cut steel was a cheap for of costume jewellery but it was so highly thought of that Napoleon gave Marie Louise a cut steel parure and is one form of antique jewellery which is most collectable today. The cut steel jewellery was made by faceting tiny pieces of steel just like gemstones and then attaching the pieces to a back plate. Take a look at these two pictures. In the first you can see the front of the cut steel buckle where is is a grey silver colour. In the second picture you can see how all the pieces of cut steel have been joined individually to the backing plate.
Later pieces were not made from individually cut rivets but rather stamped from a sheet , when you see pieces which are stamped out you can assume a mid to later Victorian age rather than Georgian.
So back to the question of cleaning Cut Steel Jewellery, an interesting one. Clearly we need to avoid getting cut steel wet as it will rust with the slightest drop of moisture. I think two different approaches are necessary depending upon the condition of the item with or without rust.
To clean cut steel jewellery in good condition I would use a dry brush such as a tooth brush. You should be able to get old dust and grime out with a little gentle rubbing. If the cut steel is already rusty we are looking more at restoration than simple cleaning, you are unlikely to ever get the piece back to bright and shiny but I think a little light clean with dry 00 grade steel wool should help. 00 grade steel wool is very fine and is sold for furniture restoration purposes. This is not household steel wool which I would definitely not advise.
Its 18 months since I last wrote about Antique Lavaliere and since then I have acquired some really super examples of this special type of antique jewellery.
A Lavaliere is a type of pendant necklace. The term refers to a jewelled pendant on chain and was widely used in the first part of the last century. The necklace can be made of fine jewels or costume jewellery – the material is not what counts here it is the shape and form.
Apparently the term comes from the mistress of King Louis XiV of France : Madame Louise de La Valliere who lived between 1664 and 1710. Perhaps she was partial to a wearing this type of necklace or was given particularly fine examples by the king?
Here are a few pretty Lavaliers to look at and please do visit antiquesavenue’s Antique Jewellery section to see more. Note Lavalier can also be spelt Lavaliere or Lavalliere all seem to be correct.