Period Pieces Art Nouveau Jewelry

Period Pieces

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.


In our catalog:

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.


Signed Art Nouveau Buckle

August 31, 2017 12:32 pm
Estate Jewelry : Silver : Art Nouveau

Signed Art Nouveau BuckleUnger Bros was a well-known and successful Newark firm that made silver jewelry and accessories up until 1910.  One of their specialties was die-stamped work that imitated repousse.  (The piece shown here is solid silver, however.)

The company was founded in 1872 and went through a number of changes in management and name before switching to the manufacture of airplane parts in 1914, and being sold in 1919 [American Jewelry Manufacturers, Dorothy T. Rainwater, Schiffer, 1988].

Unger Bros made a wide variety a wide variety of Art Nouveau pieces, jewelry, buckles, pocket knives, belts, cuff links, match safes, dresser vases....the list goes on and on.  This belt buckle is a splendid example of their work.



Unger Bros Scarab Cufflinks

February 15, 2017 9:16 pm
Estate Jewelry : Silver : Art Nouveau

Signed Antique Scarab Cufflinks

One of the most successful American makers of Art Nouveau jewelry (and other items) was Unger Brothers of Newark New Jersey.  There were five Unger brothers; the company underwent a number of name and leadership changes after its inception in 1872.  Originally makers of gold jewelry, they switched to silver to take advantage of the popularity of Art Nouveau design.  Philip Dickinson married into the family in 1880 and was responsible for many of the firm’s fine designs.  The company ceased jewelry manufacture in 1914 and switched to airplane parts.

One of the goals of many American makers of Art Nouveau jewelry was to make it affordable.  To this end, Unger Bros (and other companies) made die-stamped designs that mimicked repoussé work.  These pieces have diagnostic flat backings and are light in weight.  And very, very beautiful.

Much Unger work is still available.  They were known for pins, necklaces, belts, etc.  featuring designs of ladies and flowers—typical Art Nouveau—as well as charming and unusual items like these beetle cufflinks, as well as bulldogs, Indian heads, opossums, and bats.