Spectacular Antique Gilt Bronze Suffragette Bracelet
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Directory: Archives: Estate Jewelry: Costume: Rhinestone: Pre 1920: Item # 699147
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When green, violet and white appear together on historic jewelry, this unusual color combination typically signifies that the piece was first owned by a member of the Suffragette movement -- for whom 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. All this seems cryptic now, but was clearly understood by everyone in an era when messages were conveyed by the flowers you sent, how you held your fan and which corner of a calling card you folded down, if any.
To the Suffragettes' efforts through many decades in the U.K. and U.S., we modern women owe our right to vote. That right was finally extended to all American women in 1920 and to all in Great Britain in 1928. Thus, although most of the jewelry is Victorian, Edwardian or transitional, some dates from the Art Deco era.
In the case of this bracelet, we have to rule out Edwardian times, because it's so substantial: weighing about 50 grams. Edwardian jewels tended to be delicate and airy, as you know, and they often featured white metals. Thus, it must be Victorian or post-World War I. The design is certainly Art Nouveau, being loaded with curves and scrollwork, and the four domed plaques are joined by fold-over links that are typically 19th century (narrower than the classic bookchain, but basically the same idea). It's impossible to tell for certain whether it dates from the 1890s or a couple of decades later, during the first Victorian Revival period. Either way, it's antique by American 75-year standards. I see nothing that can be called damage -- only age-appropriate surface wear visible under high magnification and, on the reverse, some residue of old glue yellowed with time. Any good jeweler could remove that in a twinkling, if it bothers you, and could also safely polish up the metalwork if you want a brighter look.
From a Florida estate, this beauty measures about 7 inches long, 1.5 inches wide and more than .25 an inch thick. In addition to the 4 big cabochons of faux jade (very beautifully marbled), there are 8 faceted amethyst pastes and 8 faux pearls. The jades are most likely Bohemian (or Czech, if fashioned after WWI), but the amethysts and pearls could be French and I'm inclined to think the setting is French, since working with gilt bronze has been a specialty there for centuries.
Suffragette jewelry has steadily risen in price since the 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 have serious investment value, too.
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