Tag Archive | jet

Hair-looms of the future?!

I’ve always been slightly fascinated by mourning jewellery – a long standing fan of Jet, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  Back in Victorian times mourning became very fashionable, the purpose being to display the loss of a loved one, to act as a memento and to demonstrate the status (and presumably financial position?) of the wearer.

A popular type of mourning jewellery incorporated the hair of the absent or deceased person, it’s durable, relatively easy to display and stands the test of time.

We tend to think of this as pretty gory now, but it’s definitely a jewellery style that’s not forgotten, partly because of the durability of the product.

There are lots of examples around, but my absolute favourite has to be this fabulous Georgian Mourning pin currently being offered for sale by Bliss on Ruby Lane (with an all round wonderful collection so do check her store out):

hair hairpin

 

I also love this amazingly detailed watch fob from Berts Bounty on Etsy:

SALE! Victorian Twisted Hair Mourning Jewelry Gold Watch Fob

 

However there are many many fabulous and original pieces out there just dying for a revival, another favourite is this amazing piece.  You may also like to check out this Pinterest Board if you’re really keen!

 

More importantly this is not simply the province of antique jewellery collectors, as this Stylist article shows there are more and more designers pushing at the potential of organic material in jewellery.  Daniela Cardillo has always pushed the boundaries with her use of material but this innovative reinterpretation of traditional hair weaving techniques really brings this into the 21st Century.

 

Daniela Cardillo is not alone, we love the extension of mourning jewellery into modern jewellery and particularly the memories captured by jewellery created by From The Tail, we’ve put a couple of our favourites below and we’ll be featuring From The Tail Jewellery in February’s “Through the Loupe” feature.

 

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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