Amazing Antique Suffragette Gilt Bronze Dragon Bracelet
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Directory: Archives: Estate Jewelry: Costume: Unsigned: Pre 1930: Item # 701482
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The early feminist who first owned this bracelet must have felt mighty powerful with it on her arm! She had a legion of dragons on parade, along with her bold Suffragette colors, plus nearly 100 grams in weight from the ornate gilt bronze metalwork and stones. It's clearly for a woman who likes her jewelry to bowl people over -- and could even be a weapon, if need be!
When green, violet and white appear together on historic jewelry, as they do here, 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 well understood by everyone in the days when messages were also communicated by which 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.
This spectacular bracelet was probably among the last examples, dating from the 1920s, despite being very Art Nouveau in form. This is based on the type of clasp and the presence of a safety chain with the spring ring catch that came in around 1920. Based on both dating and the metalwork, it was most likely made in France, long renowned for skill with gilt bronze. The fabulous mounds of faux jade appear to be art glass, but seem actually to be of an early plastic (probably Galalith, invented in the 1890s). They're accompanied by twinkling amethyst pastes and faux pearls, all of which look original. Condition of the bracelet is lovely, its provenance is a Midwestern estate and the length is about 7 inches, right for the average wrist. If your wrist is smaller, one of the six linked plaques could easily be removed (and turned into a pendant or ring).
Suffragette jewelry has been rapidly gaining value since the star-studded TV movie "Iron Jawed Angels" appeared in 2004, revealing what those 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 harder to find.
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