Monday, April 14, 2008

Ebay Alert!. . . . .

Dainty and delicate, the beauty of this incredible hand carved pre-ban ivory pin is rivaled only by the natural blossom of the narcissus, after which it is fashioned.

Botanical Name: Narcissus

Description: Flowers have six petals in a star shape with a central cup facing out. Colors are yellow, white, or bi-color.

Myth/Legend: Greek mythology tells us the name is associated with the young man Narcissus, with whom the nymph Echo fell in love. He was vain and cared only for his own beauty. He spurned her and she died of a broken heart. The Gods were angry with Narcissus. While he was looking at his reflection in a pool of water the Gods changed him into a flower and named it after him.

Measuring 1.25" across, this stunning ivory pin appears to date from the late Victorian era and features a unique clasp made of one continuous length of brass wire, embedded into the back of the piece. Truly unique!

Whether you are a vintage jewelry aficionado or a fan of beautiful flowers, this special pin deserves a home in your collection!


Stunning and unique!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

When Was It Made?. . . . .

With many thanks to the folks at Gianni's Gems, we are happy to reproduce their excellent descriptions of the predominant historical periods relevant to collectible antique and vintage jewelry. What a great and helpful resource this is!

Georgian Period (1760-1837)- The Georgian period placed a high emphasis on diamonds . All jewellery during this era was handmade, and the motifs derived from nature included leaves, plumage, wheat, flowers , insects, birds and feathers . The artisans of this era followed the architectural and interior designs of the French Rococo style . Engraved gemstones, intaglios, cameos, garnets, turquoise, amethyst, citrine and pearls were very popular.

Victorian Period (1835-1900)- The Victorian era is oftentimes split into three periods. The Romantic period, 1837-1860, is characterized by yellow gold , filigree work, and the specific symbolism of gems and flowers. During the Grand period, 1861-1879, jewelry styles were influenced by the heavy trading England did with other countries such as China and India. Cameos and mosaics surged in popularity. It was named the Grand period because of the grand designs, stones, and settings used. Great archaeological discoveries inspired a revival of Etruscan, Egyptian, Classical, Architectural and Renaissance styles. The late Victorians in the Aesthetic period particularly fancied miniature creatures like dragons, often wrapped sinuously around a pearl .

Arts and Crafts Period (1894-1923)-Arts and Crafts jewelers rebelled against the mass production brought on by the Industrial Revolution. They formed the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1888. These jewelers were opposed to any specialization of their craft. They worked mainly in silver using uncut and cabochon stones. Color was very important and many pieces were brightly colored.

Art Nouveau Period (1890-1919)- Art Nouveau jewelers developed the themes of whimsical creatures of fancy and took them to new heights. Exotic flowers, dragonflies, natural sinuous forms, and the female form set amidst a garden were especially popular. The Art Nouveau trend was not limited to the jewellery industry, but was paralleled by literature, architecture, and crafts. A growing interest in mysticism among the public influenced jewelry manufacturer ' s use of gemstones such as opal and moonstone. The artisans experimented with new designs and new materials, like baroque pearls, ivory, copper, and tortoise shell. Enameling became a technique used to create unique pieces of wearable art; with specific enameling techniques such as cloisonne , guilloche and basse-taille.

Edwardian Period (1901-1919)- The Edwardian style, typically in white gold or platinum, placed emphasis on superior craftsmanship and metal working. Invisible platinum settings were very in vogue, as they tended to enhance the brilliance of the stones. One particular setting, called a m ilgrained or millegrained setting, employed thin bands of platinum , or white gold , to hold diamonds that were coated or textured with tiny beads. Platinum was extremely strong and versatile, so these open designs of tiny gems and metalwork created the illusion of handmade lace. Stone cutting in particular made great advancements, and subsequently , a multitude of smaller diamonds could be included in a single piece. The delicate, subdued style also leant itself to pendants: one style called the "Negligee" had two separate drops of differing lengths suspended from a single chain or gem.

Art Deco Period (1920-1935 )- The introduction of Cubism in the world of fine arts brought strong geometric forms, angular patterns, and strong colors into the jewelry designer's vocabulary. Platinum and diamonds, often pave set, employed with other gemstones (rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and onxy) were used in bold, contrasting combinations. Stones were cut into triangles, pentagons, trapezoids, oblongs and emerald-cuts. Carved jade and coral, as well as carved rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, indicate the Asian and Indian influence at this time. Decadence, liberation, and style w as reflected in the flapper attire of the Jazz Age .

Retro Period (1935-1955) - A recent designation for the period (primarily in the forties) when large scale, stylized geometric forms were the rage. Even before World War II, jewelry was changing. The most obvious change was in the color of gold. After nearly 50 years, tastes were moving from white gold back to yellow gold. Government restrictions on metals during the war only reinforced both the change and the introduction of rose gold in jewelry. Rose (pink) gold, set with colored stones, sometimes in floral forms was common. The Retro look was an infusion of old and new -- utilizing the curves of Art Nouveau with the clean simple look of Art Deco, but in a scale not seen before. Big is beautiful when it comes to describing jewelry of the Retro period. Gem material included large aquamarines, citrines and amethysts. Because of the war, synthetic rubies are often found in rose gold jewelry. Virtually identical to naturally grown rubies, synthetic rubies must be distinguished from natural by trained gemologists. Jewelry motifs during this period include bows, ribbons, flowers, birds, patriotic themes, clips, large floral sprays and suites of jewelry.

Modernist Period (1940-1960)- Mainly a post-World War II movement, the Modernist period was a revival of many aims of the Arts and Crafts movement. Emphasis was on hand-crafting and mass production was rejected. Silver was the metal mainly used, along with bronze and copper. Many of the studio jewelers began as sculptors or painters and drew their influence from the fine arts movements such as the German Bauhaus, Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Bakelite Test(s). . . . .

With so many varieties of plastics, celluloid, fakes and faux out there, sometimes it's good to be reminded of the tried and true methods for determining whether a piece truly is bakelite.

1. Testing by Sound

Listen for the "clunk" when two pieces of Bakelite are tapped together. This very distinctive sound is often heard when two or more Bakelite bangles are worn at the same time. Try tapping two pieces of another type of plastic together, and compare the sound to two pieces of true Bakelite the next time you're out shopping where Bakelite is on display.

2. Testing by Feel

Consider the weight of a piece of plastic, especially jewelry. Bakelite feels heavier, more dense when compared to other types of plastics. Hold another piece of plastic in one hand, and a piece of Bakelite of approximately the same size in the other. You'll notice the heavier feel of the Bakelite.

3. Testing by Smell

Rub the item in question vigorously with your thumb until you feel the plastic heat up. Then, before it cools, take a whiff. A distinct chemical odor similar to formaldehyde will linger with most genuine Bakelite. This often takes a bit of practice. Some noses find better results when the piece of plastic is placed under hot running tap water before sniffing it. This test works well with Bakelite bangle bracelets.

4. Testing by Sight - Inspect the Piece Closely

Look for wear scratches and patina that new pieces of plastic don't normally exhibit. Also look for tiny chips on the edges of carving. Examine the piece with a jeweler's loupe or another type of magnifier, if needed. Generally, an old piece of Bakelite will not be free of some minor scratching and wear, even though it is in excellent condition by a collector's standards.

5. Testing by Sight - Using Simichrome Polish

Simichrome Polish is a non-abrasive cream used to clean metals. You can also use it to test Bakelite for authenticity. Sparingly apply to a soft cloth and gently rub a small spot on the inside or back of the item being tested. If it's Bakelite, the cloth should turn yellow with ease. If a piece is lacquered, it may test negative. Black Bakelite pieces often fail this test as well. Use the other tests above to confirm authenticity if a piece you suspect to be Bakelite fails with Simichrome.

6. Testing by Sight - Using Formula 409 Cleaner

Scrubbing Bubbles was once the standard cleaner to use for Bakelite testing, but experts now recommend Formula 409 instead. To use, dampen a cotton swab with 409 and rub it gently on the inside of the item being tested. If it's Bakelite, the swab will turn yellow. If a piece is lacquered, it may test negative with 409. Black Bakelite pieces often fail this test as well. Use the other tests above to confirm authenticity if a piece you suspect to be Bakelite fails with 409.

Happy treasure hunting to all!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ever have one of those days. . . . . .???

Trinkets 'n treasures up for bid . . . .

Finding a vintage signed Weiss brooch and earring set really made our day. Finding that it was in perfect mint condition was the cherry on top of the sundae!! This perfectly adorable daisy set is being offered for sale on e-bay, this week, and we hope our readers will take a look and consider bidding! It truly is a remarkable set, with each delicate petal in pristine condition, and would be the perfect way to welcome springtime!!

The tiny Victorian snare drum charm is another spectacular item we have listed this week. This piece proves the truth to the old saying that 'good things come in small packages', because the stunning and intricate gold work on it is beyond compare!

Hope you have a wonderful day!!