Monday, November 3, 2014

Serious Whimsy

Van Cleef & Arpels

When you are a most celebrated jewel house you can have a bit of fun. The top jewelers around the world seem to like to produce some tongue in cheek pieces that are full of whimsy yet are created with the utmost care and skill.

A Bit of Fun
The brooch shown here has a lot going on, yet it's lighthearted and charmingly fun. The butterfly, an ever present symbol of carefree new life and metamorphosis is done up in natural color diamonds on the wings. There actually seem to be 'more wings' than necessary, but who's counting when the results are so amusing.

Color Diamonds
Pink, light yellow and various shades of brown diamonds beautify the wings. Love pink, don't you? Did you know that about 90% of the world's production of natural pink diamonds originate in the Argyle mines in Australia? I know! What's up with that? Also pretty much the boatload of 'champagne' and 'brownies' you see so prevalent these days owe their origin to Australia . . .  it's geology, that's all.

Creative License
The pear shaped diamonds suspended from the bottom wing-parts  . . .  if that's what you call them are beauties.  And it's unclear if those pears are actually briolettes; which are fully orbed all the way around. There are no back-sides to briolettes.

Did you notice that the butterfly isn't exactly 'butterflied' yet? The little thing is still a wormy-like critter with a curved end. Hum-m-m-m, it's fantasy, it's frivolous, it's Van Cleef.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Georgian On My Mind

Georgian hair ornament containing a lock of a beloved's hair: Morning Glory Antiques & Jewelry

Long Lived Era Produced Message Jewels

The Georgian era was a long one covering the period from 1714 to 1830. It draws its name from the four successive Georges who reigned in Great Britain during that time.

 A sub-period to this era included the period defined by the Regency of George IV (Prince of Wales) during the illness of his father George III. It is often extended to include the short reign of William IV, until his death in 1837.

The jewels were telling of the sentimentality of those living during this chapter of history.

Look For This
Since this era was so long, its impossible to nail down one particular style emblematic of the times. But during these years at many junctures, precious metals and stones were scarce and diamonds may have been foil backed to enhance their appearance. Silver was used to set diamonds. Garnets and topaz were favored colored stones.

Hang On to These Baubles
But this time was so long ago that relatively few original Georgian pieces have survived making their collect-ability all the more coveted.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Show Off Shell Cameos

Shell Cameo of Veiled Bride; c. 1860
Cameos are an ancient decorative art associated with various cultures throughout time. One of their charming aspects lies in their ability to reveal something about the culture in which they were produced. But dedicated carvers took great pride in their artistic prowess, and looked for opportunities to show off their extraordinary technique.

The Victorian shell cameo shown here is of a classic female form in profile adorned in her bridal dress. The simple floral wreath atop her head secures a sheer veil which she modestly fastens with a demure twist under the chin.

The artist's ability to pull of this illusion of transparency in a shell cameo is one of the most remarkable feats a carver can perform. These types of intricate carvings were meant to thrill the wearer of the cameo, and distinguish the carver as an expert in his field.

Shells are among the most popular carving materials used by cameo carvers. Earliest examples of this material as a cameo foundation appeared in the Renaissance in the 15th - 16th centuries.

Bullmouth Helmet Shell

Prior to that, hardstone was used in cameo making. Today, carvers venture out with imaginative use of transparent gemstones and other carvable objects to create their extraordinary show pieces.