Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vintage Celebrity Jewelry: Mary Pickford's Famous Sapphires (Part 1)

'America's Sweetheart', Mary Pickford
Photo Source: Strictly Vintage Hollywood

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

America’s Sweetheart,’ Mary Pickford reigned as the ‘Queen of Hollywood’ throughout her illustrious film career. She is reported to have starred in over 175 movies from 1909 to 1933. By 1916, she was making a staggering $350,000 every time one of her pictures was shown in a theater.

According to our sources, by 1919, Ms. Pickford had become “the first millionaire in Hollywood history.” She was an equal partner in the film production company, United Artists, and she was free to indulge her every whim.

Her every whim included a love of beautiful things, and she added pieces regularly to her extensive collection of costume and fine jewelry. By 1920, the Canadian-born starlet was one of the most famous women in Hollywood, and she fell in love with one of Hollywood’s golden boys, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.

By 1920, Mr. Fairbanks was a famous silent film actor who wowed his audiences with action stunts he performed himself. After watching a clip of The Mark of Zorro (1920), it is no wonder that he was beloved by national and international audiences. Mr. Fairbanks met Ms. Pickford on a tour during World War I, and though they were both married they began an illicit affair.

NEXT

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. Kunz, George Frederick. The Curious Lore of Precious Stones. Philadelphia & London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1913.
2. Leavey, Peggy Dymond. Mary Pickford: Canada’s Silent Siren, America’s Sweetheart. Toronto: Dundurn, 2011.
3. Preston, Douglas J. In the Attic: An Excursion into The American Museum of Natural History. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986.
4. Price, Judith. Masterpieces of American Jewelry. New York: Running Press, 2004.
5. Schou, Solvej. “Mary Pickford: The Angelina Jolie of her day, but much more famous.” Inside Movies, September 4, 2012, http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/09/04/mary-pickford-angelina-jolie-silent-film/.
6. Stone, Tammy. “The Silent Collection, Featuring: Mary Pickford.” Things and Other Stuff, accessed January 15, 2013. http://www.things-and-other-stuff.com/movies/profiles/mary-pickford.html.
7. TheDeadGuy. “Mary Pickford.” Everything2, January 17, 2002. http://everything2.com/title/Mary+Pickford.
8. Waterbury, Ruth, ed. Photoplay Magazine, Vol. XVIII, No. 1, June, 1920. Untitled Story, p. 73.
9. Whitfield, Eileen. Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Glittering Exhibition: The Seattle Art Museum Presents "Going for Gold"

Baroque Braque, 1987, Howard Kottler
Photo source: SAM
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Set against the backdrop of some of the finest textile specimens the Seattle Art Museum houses in its permanent collection, Going For Gold has been hailed by Seattle Times reporter, Nancy Worsam, as a “rich exhibit that wears very well.”

Curators Julie Emerson and Pam McCluskey have mined the vast collections of SAM’s textiles and decorative objects to present a glittering celebration of gold in all its forms.

Ms. Worsam reports that a massive cubist-inspired sculpture made by ceramicist Howard Kottler stuns visitors at the entry with its brilliant gold luster glaze. The exhibit also features two pieces, a jeweled bookmark and a cigarette case, made by celebrated Russian goldsmith Carl Faberge. The lid of the cigarette case is checkered in yellow, rose, and green gold.

Buddhists in the 18th century wrapped gold threads around silk fibers to make the kesa, a replica of the robe of Buddha worn by Buddhist holy men. Gold shimmers from the woven fabrics of many other pieces from around the world, including China and Italy.

In her review of the exhibit, Ms. Worsam assures that jewelry enthusiasts will not be disappointed. She comments on a pair of massive earrings from Mali “made from thin sheets of decorated gold” as well as a “highly patterned, cast-gold nose ring made in pre-Columbian America.

The exhibit opened in November, 2012, and will remain on display until November 17, 2013. On the first Thursday of every month, visitors can view Going for Gold for free between the hours of 10:00 am and 9:00 pm. On all other days, the entry price is $17 for adults. The museum is closed on Mondays. You will find more information about special rates and other exhibits on SAM’s website: http://seattleartmuseum.org/.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. “Going for Gold.” Seattle Art Museum, accessed January 15, 2013. http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/exhibit/exhibitDetail.asp?eventID=23868.
2. Worssam, Nancy. “Going for Gold at SAM has a fine luster.” The Seattle Times Online, November 9, 2012. http://seattletimes.com/html/thearts/2019637833_ar09gold.html.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ring Sold at Christie’s Might Have Been Designed by a Freemason (Part 2)

Nathan Meyer (Mayer) de Rothschild
Copyright unknown
Photo Source: And Yet They Deny

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Nathan Meyer de Rothschild and his brothers are rumored to have coordinated such a vast network of agents, shippers, and couriers that they learned of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo a whole day before the official messengers of the British Army were informed. Though this may be a mythical legend, it is true that the Rothschilds supplied gold to Britain and its allies abroad during the war.

It is fitting that a man so true to his country and so loyal to his family would have a ring fashioned in his honor after his death. Given that Mr. Rothschild was an active and loyal Freemason, the serpent ring may have been made by his brotherhood on his behalf.

Given that the snake is coiled with its tail in its mouth, this is a reasonable conclusion. This symbol, sometimes called the Ouroboros (“he who eats the tail”), is commonly associated with Freemasonry and represents the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, leading to immortality.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Alderman, Geoffrey. Modern British Jewry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
2. Kaplan, Herbert H. Nathan Mayer Rothschild and the Creation of a Dynasty: The Critical Years, 1806-1816. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006.
3. Meij, W.B. Harold. “Symbolism of the Snake.” The Masonic Trowel, accessed January 30, 2013.
4. “Ouroboros.” Crystal Links, accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.crystalinks.com/ouroboros.html.
5. Saladin F. The Babylonian Code – Vol. One: The Unholy Scriptures. Norderstedt Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2011.
6. “Sale 8127/Lot 183.” Christie’s, accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/jewelry/a-19th-century-18ct-gold-ruby-and-5647979-details.aspx.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ring Sold at Christie’s Might Have Been Designed by a Freemason (Part 1)

Georgian Era Serpent Mourning Ring, 1836
for Nathan Meyer de Rothschild
Copyright 2012 Christie's

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The stunning antique mourning ring sold for a surprising $11,021 during Christie’s Jewellery Auction, which was held in London on January 16, 2013.

Estimated to bring in $2,300-3,000, the spectacular gold, ruby, and enamel antique ring was made in 1836 to commemorate the death of the famous banker and financier, Nathan Meyer de Rothschild (1777-1836).

Fashioned into a coiled snake eating its tail, the 18kt gold ring is replete with black enamel scales and cabochon ruby eyes. A detailed engraving on the inside of the band reads: “In Memory of N, M, de Rothschild, Died 28th July 1836. Aged 59, Hallmarked London, 1836, finger size N.”

In 1811, Mr. Rothschild established N M Rothschild & Sons, a multinational investment banking company in London. Having already amassed a significant fortune in the early 1800s, Rothschild was able to fully lend his support to the British efforts during the Napoleonic Wars.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Alderman, Geoffrey. Modern British Jewry. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
2. Kaplan, Herbert H. Nathan Mayer Rothschild and the Creation of a Dynasty: The Critical Years, 1806-1816. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006.
3. Meij, W.B. Harold. “Symbolism of the Snake.” The Masonic Trowel, accessed January 30, 2013.
4. “Ouroboros.” Crystal Links, accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.crystalinks.com/ouroboros.html.
5. Saladin F. The Babylonian Code – Vol. One: The Unholy Scriptures. Norderstedt Germany: GRIN Verlag, 2011.
6. “Sale 8127/Lot 183.” Christie’s, accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/jewelry/a-19th-century-18ct-gold-ruby-and-5647979-details.aspx.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alix & Co. Paraiba Tourmaline and Pearl Necklace + Bracelet (Part 2)

Alix & Co. Paraiba Tourmaline + Pearl Necklace
Copyright 2012 EraGem Jewelry
Photo used with permission
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Paraiba tourmalines were first discovered in 1989 by the persistent Heitor Dimas Barbosa. Convinced that the pegmatite galleries nestled within the hills of the Federal Brazilian State of Paraiba held something ‘completely different,’ Barbosa and his team spent nearly a decade drilling into the earth in search of the fulfillment of his hunch {ICA}.

Finally, the fruit of their tireless labors paid off. Raw crystals of a never-before-seen turquoise tourmaline were extracted from the now-famous “Paraiba Hill” {ICA}. Owing its brilliant color to copper and manganese, the folks at the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) attest that “the ‘swimming-pool-blue’ of a Paraiba tourmaline positively flashes with vivacity.”

Sources for Brazilian paraiba tourmaline appear to have been exhausted, and although limited caches of similar copper-rich, blue-green tourmaline have been discovered in Nigeria and Mozambique, the gem is still in far greater demand than the supply can bear. This disparity is reflected in the going rates for the tiny natural wonders. Carat for carat, paraiba tourmalines rival top gemstones in value, often selling for between $10,000 and $20,000 per carat.

The pairing of unparalleled artistry and the rare electric turquoise gemstones in this paraiba tourmaline necklace by Alix & Co. make it the perfect choice for the avid jewelry collector.
                           
                                                                                                                                      PREVIOUS

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. “About.” alixandcompany, accessed January 30, 2013. http://alixandcompany.wordpress.com/about/.
2. Beurlen, Hartmut, et. al. Abstract from “Geochemical and geological controls on the genesis of gem-quality ‘Paraiba Tourmaline’ in granite pegmatites from northeastern Brazil.” The Canadian Mineralogist, accessed January 30, 2013. http://canmin.geoscienceworld.org/content/49/1/277.short.
3. Hall, Judy. 101 Power Crystals: The Ultimate Guide to Magical Crystals, Gems, and Stones. Lion’s Bay, Canada: Fairwinds Press, 2011.
4. Marin Magazine Editors. “Our favorite Marin boutiques and jewelers to keep you fashionable.” Marin Magazine, August 2012 online, Style. http://www.marinmagazine.com/Marin-Magazine/August-2012/Style/.
5. Matlins, Antoinette Leonard and Antonio C. Bonanno. Gem Identification Made Easy: A Hands-On Guide to More Confident Buying & Selling. Woodstock: GemStone Press, 2008.
6. Matlins, Antoinette L. Colored Gemstones: The Antoinette Matlins Buying Guide, Third Edition. Woodstock: GemStone Press, 2010.
7. “Meet Us!” alixandcompany, accessed January 30, 2013. http://alixandcompany.wordpress.com/meet-us/.
8. “Our Story.” Booth Custom Jewelers, accessed, January 30, 2013. http://boothcustom.com/our-story/.
9. “Paraiba Tourmaline.” GemSelect, accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.gemselect.com/other-info/paraiba-tourmaline-info.php.
10. “Paraiba Tourmaline.” International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.gemstone.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=113:sapphire&catid=1:gem-by-gem&Itemid=14.
11. Thomas, Arthur. Gemstones: Properties, Identification and Use. London: New Holland Publishers, 2008.
12. “Update on ‘Paraiba’ Tourmaline from Brazil, An (abstract).” GIA, accessed January 30, 2013. http://gia.metapress.com/content/p2g250735q4301n3/.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Alix & Co. Paraiba Tourmaline and Pearl Necklace + Bracelet (Part 1)

Alix & Co. Paraiba Tourmaline + Pearl Bracelet
Copyright 2012 EraGem Jewelry
Used with permission
by Angela Magnotti Andrews


When Janet Alix was a teenager, her grandfather took her shopping for her birthday. Upon choosing a set of jewelry-making tools, her course was set. Now the proud owner of her California-based jewelry boutique, Alix & Co., she continues to pursue her passion for designing matchless jewelry.

Janet has partnered with a fantastic team of people to create one-of-a-kind designer fine jewelry for her loyal customers. She and her team, consisting of Lori Brooke (business manager/creative director) and Karen Anlacher and Brian Booth (expert goldsmiths), are dedicated to using recycled metals and conflict-free gemstones for all their pieces.

Ms. Anlacher, who lives in Mill Valley, California, but hails from Germany, lends a cultural verve to her craft. Her meticulous attention to detail give pieces like this 18k and 22k gold and platinum necklace an air of excellence that sets it apart as a work of art.

Mr. Booth and his wife, Lily, work together from their establishment, Booth Custom Jewelers, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Their dedication to excellence in craftsmanship, as well as their ecologically sound practice of using recycled metals and conflict-free diamonds, has forged a lasting partnership with Alix & Co. When they aren’t working on custom pieces for Alix & Co., the couple create and restore heirloom and [antique jewelry] for their local clientele in Raleigh.

This necklace, and its matching bracelet are a prime example of Alix & Co.’s “Freize” style. Set in solid gold and then nestled in a platinum bow-shaped rim, twelve pearls shimmer next to their granulated gold settings. A hinge-type piece made of spiraled gold set on either end with radiant turquoise paraiba tourmaline cabochons links each of the twelve bows together to form the complete necklace.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. “About.” alixandcompany, accessed January 30, 2013. http://alixandcompany.wordpress.com/about/.
2. Beurlen, Hartmut, et. al. Abstract from “Geochemical and geological controls on the genesis of gem-quality ‘Paraiba Tourmaline’ in granite pegmatites from northeastern Brazil.” The Canadian Mineralogist, accessed January 30, 2013. http://canmin.geoscienceworld.org/content/49/1/277.short.
3. Hall, Judy. 101 Power Crystals: The Ultimate Guide to Magical Crystals, Gems, and Stones. Lion’s Bay, Canada: Fairwinds Press, 2011.
4. Marin Magazine Editors. “Our favorite Marin boutiques and jewelers to keep you fashionable.” Marin Magazine, August 2012 online, Style. http://www.marinmagazine.com/Marin-Magazine/August-2012/Style/.
5. Matlins, Antoinette Leonard and Antonio C. Bonanno. Gem Identification Made Easy: A Hands-On Guide to More Confident Buying & Selling. Woodstock: GemStone Press, 2008.
6. Matlins, Antoinette L. Colored Gemstones: The Antoinette Matlins Buying Guide, Third Edition. Woodstock: GemStone Press, 2010.
7. “Meet Us!” alixandcompany, accessed January 30, 2013. http://alixandcompany.wordpress.com/meet-us/.
8. “Our Story.” Booth Custom Jewelers, accessed, January 30, 2013. http://boothcustom.com/our-story/.
9. “Paraiba Tourmaline.” GemSelect, accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.gemselect.com/other-info/paraiba-tourmaline-info.php.
10. “Paraiba Tourmaline.” International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), accessed January 30, 2013. http://www.gemstone.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=113:sapphire&catid=1:gem-by-gem&Itemid=14.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Early Victorian Wedding Customs, part 2 (1837-1860)

Victorian Wedding Dresses
Photo Source: Squidoo
.by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Of course, the most important Early Victorian wedding detail was the wedding dress, followed in importance by the groom’s attire and the attire of their attendants. The trend toward all-white weddings was being established, though it would be some time before white wedding dresses would become fashionable.

It began with Queen Victoria’s decision to depart form the customary Royal silver for her gown. It was further established in the late 1850s, when Queen Victoria insisted that the next two Royal brides (Princess Alexandra and Princess Alice) follow her lead and wear a white silk gown from Spitalfields with white Honiton lace and white orange blossoms.

Her insistence on white wedding dresses came in part because she was a hopeless romantic in deep mourning, always trying to both avoid and recreate her happiest moments with Albert. Her second reason came from her love of Dickens and her over-identification with the poor and downtrodden. Since her wedding in 1840, she had worked tirelessly to revive two downtrodden areas of London, Spitalfields and Beer. Her insistence on white Spitalfields satin and Honiton lace from Beer would supply these communities with work and income for months.

Since white fabric was harder to come by and was fairly impractical for most Early Victorian ladies, who could not afford to wear a dress only once, it would take a couple of decades for white wedding gowns to become the norm. For this reason, many early 1800s brides wore blue, soft green, cream, or ivory dresses. Some colonial brides ever wore brown or black gowns. The blue wedding dress was a holdover tradition from the Georgian Era, when blue stood as the symbol of purity. These gowns, simple and without much embellishment, were worn later for daily wear or for Court presentation.

Depending on the resources available to the bride and her family, the dress might have been made of organdy, linen, silk, or cashmere, and it may have included tulle, gauze, or lace to accentuate the hemlines, shoulders, collar, and/or sleeves. No matter which materials were chosen, the Early Victorian wedding dress consisted of a form-fitting bodice with its trim waistline tucked into a full flowing skirt worn over hoops and petticoats.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. “77 Interesting Facts About…Weddings.” Random Facts, last updated December 23, 2009. Accessed January 13, 2013. http://facts.randomhistory.com/interesting-facts-about-weddings.html.
2. Bridal Whimsy. “The History of Wedding Traditions.” Bride & Groom, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.brideandgroom.com/wedding-articles/wedding-traditions-2.asp.
3. Dreamstress Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s wedding dress: the one that started it all.” April 18, 2011. http://thedreamstress.com/2011/04/queen-victorias-wedding-dress-the-one-that-started-it-all/.
4. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part I, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com/guide/victorian1.htm.
5. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part II, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com/guide/victorian2.htm.
6. Hoppe, M. “The Victorian Wedding.” Literary Liaisons, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article003.html.
7. Micarelli, Allison. “Wedding Style: A Victorian Event.” The Knot, accessed January 13, 2013. http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-themes/choosing-wedding-themes/articles/a-victorian-wedding-event.aspx.
8. Stajda, Sharon. “Wedding Traditions & Customs—Historical Wedding Fashions – 1850- 1950.” Squidoo, last modified January 24, 2013. http://www.squidoo.com/weddingtraditions.
9. “Victorian Days: I Thee Wed.” Angelpig.net, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/ceremony.html.
10. “Victorian Wedding, The.” Victoria’s Past, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.victoriaspast.com/VictorianWedding2/bride.htm.
11.  “Victorian Wedding Traditions.” World Wedding Traditions, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.worldweddingtraditions.com/ethnic_wedding_traditions/victorian_traditions.html.
12. Ziegenfuss, Jen. “Marriage in the Victorian Era.” University of Florida, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/agunn/teaching/enl3251/vf/pres/ziegenfuss.htm.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Early Victorian Wedding Customs, part 1 (1837-1860)

Victorian Wedding
Photo Source: Love to Know Weddings
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The year is 1837, and a new Queen sits on Great Britain’s throne. Victoria will soon become the primary influence on wedding customs in Europe and America and will remain so for the next 75 years.

The years of her long reign will eventually be categorized into three distinct fashion periods, the first of which is marked by the illustrious wedding of the Queen to her beloved Albert. Though many customs endured throughout the 1800s, details like wedding party attire, colors and decorations, venues, and jewelry changed with the passing of each decade.

The Early Victorian Era is best known for ostentatious and romantic flourishes in everything from literature to fashion and jewelry design. Wedding customs were no exception. Drawing from some of the enduring traditions of the late Georgian Era, as well as from some of the new elements introduced by Queen Victoria during her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.

During these first years of Victoria’s reign, weddings would slowly take on more and more of the elements she included in her Royal Wedding. During the 1840s, six o’clock was the customary time for typically private royal weddings. Thinking always of her adoring subjects (or perhaps wisely taking her Prime Minister’s advice), Queen Victoria decided upon a very public ceremony to begin at noon.

This was just one of the ways Queen Victoria ensured that her people could identify with her. The English laws dictated that non-royal weddings were to be held only in the morning, often commencing just before noon in the bride’s parish church. 

The wedding party would then retire directly afterwards to the home of the bride’s parents for the commencement of the customary wedding breakfast. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert did the same, albeit on a very grand scale, their wedding breakfast taking place at Buckingham Palace, where her mother did indeed reside.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. “77 Interesting Facts About…Weddings.” Random Facts, last updated December 23, 2009. Accessed January 13, 2013. http://facts.randomhistory.com/interesting-facts-about-weddings.html.
2. Bridal Whimsy. “The History of Wedding Traditions.” Bride & Groom, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.brideandgroom.com/wedding-articles/wedding-traditions-2.asp.
3. Dreamstress Blog, The. “Queen Victoria’s wedding dress: the one that started it all.” April 18, 2011. http://thedreamstress.com/2011/04/queen-victorias-wedding-dress-the-one-that-started-it-all/.
4. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part I, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com/guide/victorian1.htm.
5. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part II, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com/guide/victorian2.htm.
6. Hoppe, M. “The Victorian Wedding.” Literary Liaisons, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article003.html.
7. Micarelli, Allison. “Wedding Style: A Victorian Event.” The Knot, accessed January 13, 2013. http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-themes/choosing-wedding-themes/articles/a-victorian-wedding-event.aspx.
8. Stajda, Sharon. “Wedding Traditions & Customs—Historical Wedding Fashions – 1850- 1950.” Squidoo, last modified January 24, 2013. http://www.squidoo.com/weddingtraditions.
9. “Victorian Days: I Thee Wed.” Angelpig.net, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.angelpig.net/victorian/ceremony.html.
10. “Victorian Wedding, The.” Victoria’s Past, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.victoriaspast.com/VictorianWedding2/bride.htm.
11.  “Victorian Wedding Traditions.” World Wedding Traditions, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.worldweddingtraditions.com/ethnic_wedding_traditions/victorian_traditions.html.
12. Ziegenfuss, Jen. “Marriage in the Victorian Era.” University of Florida, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/agunn/teaching/enl3251/vf/pres/ziegenfuss.htm.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Grand Victorian Era Engagement Rings (1861-1885)

Etruscan Style Wedding Band
Image Copyright 2012 EraGem Jewelry
Image used with permission.
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The Grand Victorian Era, also known as the Mid Victorian period, was marked by greater wealth among the upper and middle classes. This allowed for more opportunities for men and women to travel abroad, which in turn led to more exotic influences in design.

While on these “Grand Tours,” as they were called, the wealthy brought all manner of trinkets home from places like Italy, Greece, and Egypt. As the years marched on, the styles and techniques of these exotic treasures, many of which were various jewels, were then emulated by leading jewelers of the day.

Handcrafted by artisans in London, Etruscan revival designs featured ornate engravings, subtle geometric lines, and alluring gemstone combinations including pearls, coral, shell, and turquoise. Intricate filigree and scrollwork settings began to emerge, heavily influenced by travel to Greece, and the newly discovered tombs of Egypt inspired gemstone-studded wedding bands fashioned into curling serpents.

Grand Victorian Era engagement rings are best characterized by their silver, rose gold, or 18k gold settings designed with more sophistication and less ornamentation than in the 1840s and 1850s. The most popular style of wedding bands were the three-stone or five-stone half hoop rings made of 18k yellow gold.

These elegant rings featured blue sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and/or diamonds. Popular combinations included three-stone rings with a colored center stone flanked on either side by diamonds, a five-stone ring featuring one colored stone (typically ruby or blue sapphire) alternating with old-cut diamonds, further accented by tiny diamond points.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1. “American Jewelry: An Historical Timeline.” Antique Jewelry University, accessed January 13, 2013. Www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/American_Jewelry:_Part_III.
2. “Antique and Vintage Designs.” Rings with Love, accessed January 13, 2013. www.ringswithlove.com/antique-vintage-designs.
3. “Antique Engagement Ring Settings.” Engagement Ring Settings, accessed January 13, 2013. www.engagement-rings-settings.com/antique-engagement-rings.htm.
4. Bradley, Tara. “Victorian Engagement Rings (1830s-1900s).” Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Accessed January 13, 2013. www.destinationweddingmag.com/gallery/victorian-engagement-rings-1830s-1900s
5. “Elegance of a Victorian Wedding, Part II, The.” Hudson Valley Weddings, accessed January 15, 2013. http://www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com/guide/victorian2.htm.
6. Fragoso, Lilyanna. “Engagement Rings in the 18th and 19th Centuries.” eHow. Accessed January 13, 2013. www.ehow.co.uk/info_7911740_engagement-rings-18th-19th-centuries.html.
7. Harlow, George E. The Nature of DiamondsCambridgeCambridge University Press, 1998.
8. “History of Jewelry, The.” Brilliance Jewelry, accessed January 13, 2013. www.brilliancejewelry.com/history/index.html.
9. “History of Wedding Rings, The.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 13, 2013. http://www.everything-wedding-rings.com/history-of-wedding-rings.html.
10. “Keeper Ring.” Antique Jewelry University, accessed January 13, 2013. www.langantiques.com/university/index.php/Keeper_Ring.
11. “Promise Ring Meaning.” Antique Jewelry Investor, accessed January 13, 2013. www.antique-jewelry-investor.com/promise-ring-meaning.html.
12. Schoening, Lisa and Kurt Rothner. “Why a Vintage Engagement Ring?” Excalibur Jewelry, May 5, 2012. Accessed January 13, 2013. www.excaliburjewelry.com/why-a-vintage-engagement-ring.
13. “Victorian Wedding Ring and Victorian Engagement Rings, The.” Everything Wedding Rings, accessed January 13, 2013. www.everything-wedding-rings.com/victorian-wedding-rings.html.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Late Victorian Engagement Rings (1885-1901)

Tiffany 6-prong Diamond Solitaire Setting
Photo Source: The Bride's Guide
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Though many competing jewelry styles emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, Late Victorian engagement rings have made an indelible impression upon British and American brides throughout the centuries. The elegant flourishes and distinctive styles perfected by Victorian jewelers endure today as the pinnacle of classic romantic wedding jewelry.


All-white weddings, patterned after three high-profile Royal weddings which took place between 1840 and 1863, maintained supreme popularity into the late 1880s. Consequently, pearls and diamonds remained among the most popular gemstones for engagement and wedding rings.

It was during this time period that the solid tradition was set whereby a groom gave his intended an engagement ring upon proposing. As larger and greater numbers of diamonds were exported from the Kimberley mine in South Africa, diamond solitaires grew in popularity.

The popularity of the diamond solitaire was further established in 1886 when Charles Lewis Tiffany’s team perfected the six-prong diamond setting. The new setting features a single large diamond poised above its band, held in place by six distinctive prongs. Tiffany & Co.’s elegant setting, which today remains a classic in diamond solitaires, allows the diamond to exhibit maximum brilliance.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of diamond solitaire engagement rings, many Late Victorian engagement rings also featured colored gemstones alongside diamonds.  Emeralds, rubies, and blue sapphires held prominence in wedding jewelry, especially for those of Royal and Noble blood. However, as new and more abundant gemstones became available to both the upper and middle classes, engagement rings began featuring the alluring colors of aquamarine, peridot, turquoise, and chrysoberyl.

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