If you're petite, no doubt you've found that most antique bracelets are just too big. They were made roomy to wear over gloves in the 19th and very early 20th centuries, so few are shorter than 7 1/2 inches. This one's just 6 1/2 inches long, counting the clasp -- and it's fabulous!
Fashioned from heavy gilt metal, the bracelet is comprised of four domed plaques intricately detailed with Art Nouveau scrollwork and set with 16 glorious faux gems. Jade-like art glass dominates, featuring rich green hues mottled with white. That these rectangular cabochons vary slightly in color and shape adds to the "real" look and also attests to hand-craftsmanship. Accent stones are deep purple amethyst pastes and glass pearls, still very luminous. All appear original and are in remarkably fine condition. Most likely the necklace was made in Bohemia, which for centuries produced the finest simulated gems, as well as ornate and rather fanciful settings. The area became Czechoslovakia after World War I, but was previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The unusual combination of green, purple and white typically signifies that a jewel was first owned by a member of the Suffragette movement. For them, green represented hope, purple signified dignity and white stood for purity. The language we associate with "regard" jewelry applied, too: The "G" of green, "W" of white and "V" of violet comprised an abbreviation for Give Women (the) Vote. That right was finally won for all American women in 1920 and for all in Great Britain in 1928. Thus, although most of the jewelry is Victorian, Edwardian or transitional, some was crafted in the Art Deco era. Forgotten for many years, these jewels have been rapidly gaining value since the star-studded TV movie "Iron Jawed Angels" appeared in 2004, revealing what the gals went through (including hunger strikes and beatings). Wearing Suffragette jewels is a great way to show your pride and appreciation and, now that the genre has been rediscovered, they're getting much more scarce.
This bracelet dates most likely to the 1890s and reached us from an East Coast estate. The reverse shows age-appropriate surface wear around the edges, which reveals a silvery substance under the gilding: pot metal, to judge by the weight. The gilt has aged to bronze color on the front, where it takes high magnification to notice any wear.
The three links joining the plaques are rosier, probably gilt copper, and have an elaborately incised design. Because the clasp isn't patterned and appears to be gilt brass, it's almost surely a replacement. It's been with the bracelet for a very long time, though, based on their matching depth of patina. Of course there may have been a fifth plaque originally, removed at some point by a lady with a dainty wrist. Each plaque measures about 1 1/2 inches long and a little more than an inch wide. Each connecting link adds about 3/8 of an inch, as does the clasp.
Because the clasp can easily be taken off, you could tie ribbons onto each end and wear this also as a choker necklace or a hair ornament.
There's no charge for insured U.S. shipping, with an equivalent discount on international delivery, and gift-wrap is always free on request. Please e-mail to confirm availability, order or request more photos. Thanks for looking!