Period Pieces Art Nouveau Jewelry

Period Pieces

Etruscan Revival Pin

March 31, 2020 2:32 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Victorian

Etruscan Revival Pin

The anchor is a common motif in Victorian jewelry, a time when designs that carried a deeper, emotional meaning were much used. The anchor is, not surprisingly, associated with the sea, with sailors and other sea men.

Wives were left on shore hoping and praying that their men would return safely, so the anchor quite naturally became the symbol of hope.

Crosses, anchors, and hearts were often used together, symbolizing faith, hope, and charity.

In our catalog:

Silver Green Man Earrings

March 17, 2020 6:12 pm
Estate Jewelry : Other Metals

Silver Green Man EarringsThe Green Man is an ancient symbol of nature, rebirth, spring...there are many interpretations. He is almost always represented by a man's face surrounded by or even made of leaves. He is found in many places and many cultures and many variations, and may predate Christianity. The symbol is often used as an architectural ornamentation for secular and religious buildings. The motif has never really gone out of style but had a resurgence of popularity in 19th centuryEngland and in this country in the sixties and seventies.The Green Man has been known by many names over the centuries; Green Man is a modern term, dating from 1939.

Art Nouveau Peridot Lavalier

February 27, 2020 6:56 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Peridot LavalierGarnet/Glass Doublets

These imitations of more expensive, transparent  gemstones such as amethyst and peridot were widely used in the last half of the 19th century. They consist of a very thin slice of garnet fused to the  top of a cut-gem-shaped glass blank. Garnet fuses to glass easily, and is harder than glass, so the 'stone' was less prone to scratch. The red garnet slice is so thin that the visible color comes from the glass.

Manufacture of doublets was often a family affair, with the members sitting around the kitchen table to use moulds to assemble and fire the garnet slices and glass to make 'gems'.

(See the blog for item #1416939 for a more complete description.)

Silver Scarab Cuff Links

February 13, 2020 3:06 pm
Estate Jewelry : Silver : Art Nouveau

Silver Scarab Cuff Links

  Art Nouveau design had a brief but important popularity from 1895 to 1905. L'Art Nouveau was introduced in Paris and spread like wildfire. Several U.S, companies leaped on the bandwagon, among them the Newark, N.J. Unger Bros.  The company made pocket knives and specialty hardware starting in 1878.  In 1880, a new designer joined the company and silver Art Nouveau jewelry was added. They became famous--and collectible! Their designs were largely die-stamped pieces that have the look of repousse work. Art Nouveau began to lose popularity and the company retired this jewelry in 1910. By 1915, the style was no longer popular.

The maker's mark for Unger Bros was interlaced initials plus 925 sterling stamped on each piece.

[References:  Warman's Jewelry, Christie Romero, 2002  American Jewelry Manufacturers, Dorothy Rainwater, 1988]

Golden Art Nouveau Lavalier

February 11, 2020 3:59 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Art Nouveau

Golden Art Nouveau LavalierGarnet/glass doublets were a common substitution in the Victorian age when amethyst was one of the most valuable gemstones.  A garnet/glass doublet is an assembled stone consisting of a thin crown of garnet, usually almandine, fused or glued to a colored glass pavilion.  They were developed to imitate amethyst, peridot, tourmaline, and other transparent gems popular in the last half of the 19th century. Amethyst in particular was scarce and expensive.  Russia was the major source of amethyst until it was discovered in Brazil in the nineteenth century, causing the price to drop. These imitation stones were developed before 1840, and manufacture continued until after World War I.

Why garnet?  Garnet fuses easily to glass and is harder than glass, so the garnet cap protects the top of the 'stone' from scratches.  And, even though the garnet is red, the cap is so thin that doublets can be made in any color, even colorless.  Looking at the stone from the top, the color is determined by the color of the glass.

The easiest way to identify a doublet is with a magnifier.  Tilt the stone back and forth and look for the difference in luster of garnet and glass.  The join between garnet and glass is often not at a regular distance from the girdle of the stone.

The following description of doublet manufacture in the Jura Mountains just after World War I is from Webster [1994]:

After the day's work and our evening meal, a small pile of doublet moulds were put on the kitchen table, together with a packet or two of thin slices of garnet, and also a mound of glass squares.  Everyone sat down to their respective job, even neighbours who called in to pass the time with us.  Some put in the garnet, others would place a piece of glass on top.  The moulds were made of baked clay, measuring about 16 in by 10 in with a number of indentations depending upon the size of doublet required.  Actually it was a very pleasant way of passing an evening, refreshments were ad lib and the conversation always interesting and amusing.GarnetCap Friday was an important day, the kiln was stacked with prepared moulds, the fire lit and heated to the correct temperature.  Next morning the moulds having cooled were removed.  The rough doublets were then sorted into their different colours and sizes ready to be given to the local craftsmen who cut them in their homes.  [Webster, R,  Gems: their sources, descriptions and identification,  Butterworth-Heinemann, Fifth edition 1994  pp458-460]