Period Pieces Art Nouveau Jewelry

Period Pieces

Art Nouveau Lavaliere

December 17, 2018 2:30 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau Lavaliere

Garnet/Glass Doublet    Fabulous Fakery in Antique Jewelry


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.  Queen Charlotte owned an amethyst bracelet which was valued at £2000 at the beginning of the 18th century and only £100 two hundred years later.

Why garnet?  Garnet is the only stone which will easily fuse to glass.  Garnet has a hardness approximately equal to that of amethyst, and greater than that of glass, so the garnet cap keeps 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.

These imitation stones were developed before 1840, and manufacture continued until after World War I. 

This 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.

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. 



Romero, Christie and Barbara Talbott  Collector's Timeline 2004

Webster, R,  Gems: their sources, descriptions and identification,  Butterworth-Heinemann, Fifth edition 1994  pp458-460

In our catalog:

White Opal Necklace

September 22, 2017 7:01 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold

White Opal Necklace

Opal is a birthstone for October.  (Time to get a birthday present, maybe?)

Technically, opal is not a mineral, but is referred to as a mineraloid because it does not have an ordered internal structure. Instead atoms in a regularly repeating lattice, opal is made up of spheres of silicon dioxide.  This does not mean it isn't valued and beautiful in jewelry!

The play of color in precious opal comes from the refraction of light from the spheres.  Precious opal has play of color and these stones can be classified by the color of the background:  black, white, and crystal (clear) are the most common terms.  Fire opals rarely have play of color but are a stunning orange color.  Other desirable opals that lack play of color can be green, rose, or yellow.

In our catalog:

Guilloché Enamel & Pearl Stickpin

September 20, 2017 6:20 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold

Guilloché Enamel & Pearl Stickpin

Enameling in jewelry is basically the application of glass power which is then fused by heat to make a smooth, shiny, colored field or line on the piece.  There are many different styles of enamel work.  Three of the more common ones seen in antique European jewelry are:

Guilloche: (gee-oh-shay)  Transparent or translucent enamel is placed over metal that has often been enhanced with a pattern. The technique is commonly named "engine turned" for the mechanical cutting of lines on metal to create a design. Light reflects through the transparent enamel, highlighting the engraved pattern.

Champleve:  Channels are carved out of metal to make a well which is then filled with enamel. The partitions are part of the base and not applied on the surface.   French for “raised field” or “raised plain.”.

Plique a jour:  Aftern enameling, the metal backing is removed, leaving a delicate, translucent design that resembles stained glass.


Victorian Emerald Ring

September 16, 2017 3:24 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Victorian

Victorian Emerald Ring

Different Ways To Set Gemstones

Gemstones are set into pieces of jewelry in many different ways, depending on the wear expected for the piece and the size and characteristics of the stone.  A few of the more common kinds of settings are:

Prong               This is the setting most commonly seen in engagement rings today.  A diamond is held in place by four (or more) metal prongs that grasp the stone and hold it in place.  There are many variations, most notably the Tiffany setting.

Bezel               The stone is wrapped with a thin strip of metal so that its edge is completely covered.

Gypsy              The stone is set completely within the metal of the jewelry, so that only the top is exposed.

Channel           Used for smaller stones, which are set girdle to girdle in a channel and held in place by metal covering a small part of the top.

Pavé                Small stones completely cover the piece of jewelry.  Each stone is held in place by small prongs, or beads of metal gathered from the surface.

This Victorian ring is gypsy-set with pearls and emeralds.

In our catalog:

Edwardian White Gold and Amethyst Brooch

September 1, 2017 6:42 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Edwardian

Edwardian White Gold and Amethyst Brooch

By the time Edward became king of England in 1902, he and his wife Alexandria had been established as leaders and influencers in fashion.  Edwardian fashion diverged from the Victorian styles that had dominated England for decades, in part because of technological advances in lighting and  metallurgy.  Yellow gold gave way to white metals as platinum became popular, and use of this metal inspired fine detail in the metal work.

The introduction of electric light vitalized the diamond market.  Diamonds shone brilliantly when viewed in the new, whiter light as opposed to the older, yellowish gas lighting.  This lighting also showcased the new, more delicate fashions with softer fabrics and paler colors.  These fashions were meant for diamonds and paler gemstones, such as diamonds, amethyst, and peridot.

Popular jewelry motifs and styles included Alexandria’s favorite stars, crescents, and dog collars as well as open, graceful bows, many pearls, garlands, and bar pins.