Tag Archive | brooch

Upcycling – waste not want not

Upcycling has been something of a fashion in some circles for a while, but what is it?  On the face of it upcycling is simply making one new item out of one or more old items, and when it comes to jewellery this opens some really exciting prospects.

Upcycled jewellery ranges from that made by salvaging older unwanted or broken items of jewellery, such as these examples from one of my current favourites The Upcycle Jewellery Company:

Upcycle Bee

tinkerbell upcycle

But it often goes further – some of the most interesting pieces of upcycling we have seen are when jewellery is created from items that didn’t start out as jewellery:

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school...I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

This makes me smile because I had one of these at school…I would definitely get more use out of it as a piece of jewellery

…and if you’ve ever wondered what to do with those old keys you have loitering you definitely need to look at the Upcycle Jewellery Co website for inspiration!

These fabulous earrings by Urban Raven, who has some really creative uses for what some might think of as junk, are made from old Israeli telephone tokens:

upcycle urban raven

We also love her use of stamps, what a great way to make a unique and personalised piece of jewellery!

 stamp ring urban raven 

As a bit of a button fiend myself I was delighted to find Button Jewellery with their delicate yet eyecatching approach to jewellery

Bright rainbow button necklace

Including a fab way to #bringbackthebrooch:

Terracotta, Orange and Mustard Button Brooch

From the maker of the above also comes Unexpected Boutique with some serious statement necklaces!

beachcomber-necklace-2a   safety-pin-necklace-bust-new

 

 

Whilst these pieces look great they also are almost always pretty unique; even if you’re buying something from a maker who regularly makes the same or similar items they are ALWAYS going to be just a little bit different from the next piece, as is the joy of upcycling.  It’s also such a great way to remember that your junk can become something beautiful too, so maybe think on before you chuck it away!

 

We always love to hear from makers of unusual and upcycled pieces, do get in touch if you would like to feature on the blog!

 

 

What’s in a name…

A while ago we featured a post about the history of “costume” jewellery, as promised we will now feature a few of the “names” from the costume jewellery era of the 20th century. There has been an upsurge of interest in all things Vintage in the last few years and jewellery is no exception. Much of the jewellery created during this period were of good production quality and design and have survived the test of time to become a big collectors area, they represent a slice of period life at a relatively affordable price when compared to jewels made from precious metals.

Signed jewellery are the most sort after examples of costume jewellery, as they can be researched and often dated to within a few years as a result of the marks displayed, prices depend on the name, dates, rarity, and materials used. Below we will look at just a few of the many collectable costume jewellery manufacturers.

Trifari

A highly successful and probably the best known costume jewellery designer whose pieces are still highly collectable today, they have designed jewellery that have been worn by countless high profile figures from Mamie Eisenhower to Madonna.

Gustavo Trifari was born in Naples in 1883, he trained as a goldsmith under his grandfather. He emigrated from Italy to New York and worked with his uncle making costume jewellery. In 1910 they set up Trifari & Trifari, but Gustavo went on to set up his own company Trifari in 1912.

The success of Trifari, and the reason for its collectability today, is often credited to the French designer Alfred Philippe, the company’s chief designer from 1930 until 1968. His use of invisible settings for stones, which he originally developed for Van clef and Arpels, added a level of craftsmanship and technique that had not previously been seen in costume jewellery.

Amongst Philippe’s many designs were the Trifari crown pins from the late 1930s to 1950s. The crowns were so popular that Trifari started to use a crown in its mark in about 1937. Authentic Trifari jewellery is typically marked with ‘jewels by Triafai’, ‘TKF’  (for Trifari, Krussman & Fishel) or ‘Trifari’ depending when it was made. Pieces made after 1952 bear the copyright symbol, as this is when the US government allowed jewellery designs to be protected by copyright.

Trifari Jelly Belly pins of seals, poodles, roosters, and other animal’s ‘belly’ consists of a solid Lucite ‘pearl’ with settings of sterling silver or gold plate. Jelly Belly’s are highly collectable and command a high price especially poodles – which are rare.

The company was sold to the Hallmark Corporation in 1975 and subsequently to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 2000.

Below is a Trifari brooch, with the visible mark – made after the copyright symbol was added in 1952.

 

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Lisner


Only recently have vintage Lisner pieces become appreciated and collectable, they still have relatively low prices and the company’s cheaply made plastic leaves and baubles have a beauty of their own.

For nearly 30 years after it was founded in 1904, Lisner imported and sold Elsa Schiaparelli’s Parisian jewellery in the United States. In the 1930s the company finally started selling its own designs that employed Dupont’s new coloured acrylic plastic called Lucite, as well as clear and coloured rhinestones, chrome, plated and black japanned metal. The pieces produced were not of the calibre of some other designers but they reflected the design trends led by the high-end brands.

The company used “Lisner” mark in block capitals on its own pieces for the first time in 1935. In 1938 the “Lisner” mark in script was introduced. From 1959, “Lisner” in block capitals with an elongated “L”, was used. However some dies and molds were used later so the mark is not always a reliable indicator of the date in this case. The company ended production in 1979.

Below is an example of a necklace and earrings set, the marks visible including block lettering and the copyright symbol.

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Coro & Corocraft

Coro, a partnership between Emanuel Cohn (the “Co”) and Gerald Rosenberg (the “ro”) began producing jewellery in New York in 1901 and continued through to the 1970s under the marks of Coro, Coro Craft (later Corocraft) and Vendome, amongst others. Although Vendome was the high end line, today some of the most collectable examples are Coro pieces.

The reason for much of its success was due to Adolph Katz, who became design director in 1924, and Gene Verri, who designed for Coro from 1933 until 1963.

Amongst the most collectable vintage Coro pieces today are the Coro Duettes from 1931 to the 1950s. The Duettes utilized a frame based on one designed by Cartier in 1927. Like the Cartier frame the Coro version had two openings in it, one for each pin which could be attached to the frame and worn together or separately.

Corocraft was the next step up in quality and price from Coro, under this brand they produced a line of Jelly Belly pins, that were similar to the those made by Trifari right down to the Lucite “belly”. Were Coro used metal frames Corocraft pins and bracelets were often made in sterling silver or gold plating. Vendome, was introduced in 1944 and replaced Corocraft in 1953 as the top of the Coro line.

The company ceased trading in the US in 1979, but Coro Inc. Continued production in Canada until the mid-1990s.

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Monet

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Monocraft as it began, now known as Monet, was founded by brothers Jay and Michael Chernow , in 1929 in Providence, Rhode Island. The company started making metal monograms and then Art Deco style purse adornments progressing onto making costume jewellery after the Chernows hired designer Edmond Mario Granville in 1934. Edmond had a background in fine jewellery from working at Cartier. He remained sole designer until the late 1950s and was executive designer until his death in 1969. Producing simple gold and silver-tone designs, they developed a friction ear clip which made its earrings more comfortable to wear. From 1981, Monet produced jewellery for Yves Saint Laurent. It has continued to adapt to trends and changing fashions and remains successful to the present day.

Today, Monet is particularly prized by collectors for its quality, thanks to its triple-plating. It is not unusual for Monet pieces to last for decades without showing signs of wear to the finish, and as most of the jewellery is name marked, they will continue to be collectable.

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So if you want to start buying vintage costume jewellery there are specialists shops and online stores, but I find it’s more fun having a look around markets and car boot fairs, where you can often find quality pieces at affordable prices. As with most things there are some fakes of the big names around, so beware, but if you buy what you like and at an affordable price, maybe you will end up with a fascinating piece of jewellery that could last another 60 years or more!

Cameos

We’ve all seen cameos (or similar) on the high street, and they’re thought of as pretty old fashioned now, but the original cameo is a real work of art so we thought you should know a bit about it!

The art of carving and engraving gemstones is called the glyphic art, a glyph being a channel or groove.  There are actually two types of ‘cameo,’ where designs are incised into the stone they are called intaglio, where the image appears in relief this is a cameo.

The earliest gemstone carving was in intaglio, and the design is carved in the negative below the flattened or domed surface of the gemstone.  This allowed the gem to be pressed into clay or sealing wax where it would leave a mirror image of the design in relief.  Engraved signet stones can be traced back to the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia and even to around 5000 BC in some parts of Asia.

 

2nd - 3rd Century Roman Gold Intaglio Ring - copyright of Trustees of the British Museum

2nd – 3rd Century Roman Gold Intaglio Ring – copyright of Trustees of the British Museum

 

In cameos the design is created by cutting away around the image and leaving the image in relief, and this type of carving did not begin until the late Hellenistic Greek period, when gemstone carving came to be appreciated for its artistic and ornamental value, rather than for the functional aspect of an intaglio seal.

Traditionally cameos feature a white figure on a dark background.  Greek cameos were often made of banded agate or sardonyx carved with the coloured layers of the stone running horizontal to the visible upper plane.  This meant that up to four levels of carving, each in a different colour, could be seen, such as in the cameo below.

 

The coloured layers are visible in this cameo carving

The coloured layers are visible in this cameo carving

 

In addition to agate or sardonyx practically all stones have been used for engraving.  Rare and expensive rubies, sapphires and emeralds have been fashioned into cameos in the past, although they are usually only small simple designs due to the hardness of these gems which make them difficult to carve.  Usually these rare and precious gems will feature in a Roman ring or occasionally in a simple 18th century gold setting.  In the late 19th century citrine and amethyst began to appear as carved gems in brooches, and then opals which are sometimes found in both rings and brooches.  Organic materials such as coral, ivory and jet became extensively used in the 18th and 19th centuries which were much cheaper and more widely available, although shell carving in jewellery has been around since the 16th century.

 

c. 1850 Diana at the hunt

c. 1850 Diana at the hunt

By the end of the 19th century the fashion for cameos had dwindled, there are 20th century cameos often set in nine carat gold or silver with marcasite highlights, more recently, in the 1930s to 1950s, glass, plastic and composite were used to produce cheaper varieties of cameo.  The lack of interest in the cameo means it is not a highly marketable piece and the modern day versions of these stunning carvings lack the charm and detail of earlier pieces, often on the mass production market.  However there are some good buys to be had both of vintage originals, and more unusual takes on the cameo idea, such at these resin brooches from the Maria Allen Boutique. and these cameo inspired rings by Hart and Bloom.

 

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Moroccan Jewels

Ok so I’m a bit batty about all things Moroccan, in particular I love the creative culture and looking at the work of the highly skilled artisans. I have some modern Moroccan jewellery which still has a traditional feel and look to them but where did these motifs and themes come from, I wanted to look to the past and to the Berber people who were a great influence on the aesthetic culture of the country and who’s influence can still be seen today.

The Berbers are believed to be the original inhabitants of North Africa, they converted to Islam at an early date, but kept their language, customs and identity. As they were typically farmers and county people, their dress was more rustic than that of Arabs, they used draped fabric, held together with brooches.

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Traditional Berber robes and brooches

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Jewellery was a symbol of wealth and an investment, women would sell pieces to buy something else or to raise money when needed, even buying animals and land. Women would therefore often act as the family banker. Jewellery was not usually of sentimental value and was often melted down for new pieces to be created.

Berber jewellery was made almost entirely of silver, enriched with niello work, enamel, engraving, repousse and semi-precious stones, the colours used have a symbolic meaning. Necklaces of huge amber beads were often worn which were believed to have protective properties.

Enamel and engraving work can be seen here, along with heavy amber beads

Enamel and engraving work can be seen here, along with heavy amber beads

 

The main pieces of Berber jewellery – best seen at weddings and at harvest time – include head ornaments, which may be crown like or made from silver coins. Earrings were usually so large that they had to be supported on a chain running across the head or hooked into the hair, and pendants which hung over the temples. Various necklaces where worn, along with rings, pairs of bracelets including star-shaped and heavy Ait Atta ones, (a Berber tribe) the points of which could be used for self- defence. Anklets would be worn typically horseshoe in shape. Finished off with pairs of large silver brooches for holding the draped robes in place.

Heavy brooches and various necklaces seen with coins in the head-dress

Heavy brooches and various necklaces seen with coins in the head-dress

 

A crown like head ornament

A crown like head ornament

 

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Pointed rings used for self-defence

 

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Pointed bracelets used for self-defence

These traditional materials and shapes are still seen in some form in jewellery today, so it is inspiring for me to think of the rich heritage that has influenced the jewellery I have brought home from my travels there!

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My traditionally inspired modern Moroccan finds

 

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My traditionally inspired modern Moroccan finds

 

Remembrance Day – is it time to upgrade your poppy?

Ok so maybe the title doesn’t say it all, but as Remembrance Day approaches we wanted to tell you how you could support the excellent work of the Royal British Legion.  The Royal British Legion is the nation’s “custodian of remembrance” as well as doing impressive work to support existing and former members of the armed forces and their families.

Like me you may only start thinking about Remembrance Day once the poppies start appearing on your local high street or station, for a number of years now I have sought out the poppy pin badges which vary from year to year as a more permanent way of commemorating the annual events, as I find I can get away with wearing them for many months whereas my paper poppy seems to cause me nothing but trouble (I am too incompetent to manage to pin one on so they tend to loiter around buttonholes…)

It may seem a little early, but I want to give you the chance to explore what alternative ways of supporting the cause are on offer, particularly in this year, the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Poppies have moved on a lot in recent years, and I’m not just talking pin badges and ceramic poppies at the Tower of London.  There’s an entire site dedicated to the poppy related accouterments produced in support of the Royal British Legion, from umbrellas to stationary, and (unsurprisingly since we’re talking about it on this blog!) jewellery.

The jewellery collections from the Poppy Shop span several ranges, and the variety available is immense, here are a few of our favourite items:

The real flower poppy heart range comprises a bangle, earrings and necklace made from real miniature poppies – we like these because the use of real flowers really interesting, it’s a trend that is becoming more and more popular and the variation of having a heart shaped feature on these is really nice.  It’s also a really nice way to wear the poppy, but would be suitable for the whole year round.

 

 

If you’re not such a fan of the heart they do similar designs in an oval shape on the website.

Ring

There are fabulous long drop earrings from the Falling Poppy collection,  they were created by British Royal Warrant holders, Toye, Kenning & Spencer, and at £10.49 they are an absolute bargain.  The matching necklace is under a tenner!  For a slightly more dramatic look though, we love the Poppy Cascade collection, these feature a similar design of poppy clustered with a silver poppy and an oak leaf.  Also created by Toye, Kenning and Spencer these have a longer drop (6cm) and are a real feature for any wardrobe.

 Falling necklace  Falling Earrings

For a more traditional approach to the poppy how about a Union Flag inspired poppy brooch.  You know we love a brooch and the personality in this one really shines out.

JW1091-Poppy-Collection-Union-Flag-Brooch

Finally a special mention for these First World War poppy cufflinks, because these really are an amazing piece of art.  To quote the website “they have been created from the solid brass of original artillery shell fuses found on First World War battlefields. The shells have been melted down and cast, using the traditional ‘lost wax’ method in which each and every poppy requires a wax version, into a hand sculpted poppy design.

The design is based on a 100 year old dried and flattened real poppy from Private Len Smith’s diary – Private Smith, a veteran who lived until 1974, plucked the poppy from No Man’s Land in 1915 and preserved it in his illustrated diary.”  There’s no point me trying to say anything as this speaks for itself – the ultimate form of upcycling, what a great way to Remember.  Additionally these are a beautiful, practical item which is sure to be good value for money at £79.99.

Poppy cufflinks

On the topic of cufflinks, do have a look at the fabulous spitfire cufflinks made from an actual spitfire…I kid you not, they are amazing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post, please do remember the purpose behind Remembrance Day and bear in mind that the Poppy Shop is the official online store for the Royal British Legion, all profits go to support the charity.  Delivery charges may apply, please see the website for details.

 

 

Flower power

Flowers are definitely the thing to be seen in this season, and with sales on at many high street stores there are bargains to be had, here are a few of our favourite flower bargains from Wallis:

 

IMAG2098   IMAG2099 (2)   Elsewhere on the High Street how about these cute flower studs for a subtle salute to the flower from Dorothy Perkins, and there are several pieces of flower jewellery on offer at H Samuels at the moment too (and there’s a sale on 😉 ).   If you’re feeling flush how about this amazing Tiffany rose gold and amethyst ring. Alternatively Van Cleef and Arples even have several floral collections, although the Socrate bouquet has to be my personal favourite. You could even branch into the world of jewellery incorporating real flowers with the fabulous Shrieking Violet

The stunning mix of real flowers with silver is emphasised even more in this beautiful (and adjustable) ring from the Purple Haze collection

Shrieking Violet butterfly pendant

Beautiful forget me nots in a butterfly pendant

Shrieking Violet Heart pendant

Mixed flower heart shaped pendant

We’re always proud to support the #bringbackthebrooch campaign championed by the fabulous Jewellery Cloud and here are a few choice flower pieces from them!

Brooch

For me this captures the season beautifully – look at those colours

With such great detail and bang on trend turquoise colours it’s hard to believe this wasn’t designed for this year

#bringbackthebrooch

Can I interest you in a dainty piece of art deco-esq bunch!