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Spring Flowers

krementz-pansy-pin-4069 Late 19th c. pansy from Ameican jeweler Krementz, once based in Newark, NJ

Happy spring! I woke up this morning expecting to step outside into a Disney woodland fantasy of flowers and bluebirds flying around with ribbons in their beaks. Not quite.

It’s finally here, and even though it’s still cold and windy, today is the first day of spring and I couldn’t be happier! So, since there are no flowers outside yet (at least in New York) I figured I’d write about some!

Flowers have been a popular motif in design and jewelry in particular for centuries. Different flowers symbolize different things, but to me they all mean beautiful weather and new beginnings. And that’s what spring is all about, no? In addition to relegating your winter coat to the back of your closet and getting to wear your strappy heels again! Woo hoo!

pansy pearl

Late 19th c. example with enamel and seed pearls

Pansies have been a favorite in jewelry since the late 19th century, predominately in the form of brooches. During the Art Nouveau period, which dates from approximately 1890-1910, artists we’re inspired by nature, leaves, flowers and flowing organic lines. A lot of the pansy brooches created during this period we’re enamel over yellow gold, sometimes accented with seed pearls or diamonds. You also find gem set pansy brooches from the early 20th century. A notable creator of these flowers was American jeweler Oscar Heyman. They still produce these pieces today and they feature invisibly set sapphires, amethyst and yellow diamonds, all evoking the trademark purple and yellow of the pansy.

heyman2  heyman pansy

Two gorgeous examples from American jeweler Oscar Heyman

So, what are you waiting for? Throw on a new outfit, go out and grab spring by the pansies! Enjoy the day and happy spring!

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Purple Passion

ami earringsWith February more than half over, I figured it’s time to talk about Amethyst! And, I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit of my inner Gemologist – geek yearning to be free!

Amethyst is the February birthstone, for those of you that missed the reference above. It is part of the quartz family and definitely one of the most popular colored gemstones. Ideally, Amethyst should be a deep, rich purple, but it is also seen in much less saturated, very pale tones, sold as Rose de France.  A lot of amethyst is mined in Brazil and the gorgeous stone is affordable and often available in large sizes.  So, if you’re the type that loves a killer, eye catching cocktail ring of 10 carats plus, this could be a stone for you!

Throughout history there has been a lot of lore and superstition surrounding the stone.  “The name amethyst derives from the ancient Greek word amethustos, meaning sober. It was said that an amethyst could prevent the bearer from becoming excessively drunk and also instills a sober and serious mind. It was believed that if a person drank from a cup or goblet made entirely of amethyst, he or she would not get drunk at all.” (1)

ami ring

“Throughout the ages, powerful and rich monarchs have used Amethyst as a symbol of royalty, and some Amethysts even decorate the British Crown Jewels. Rumor has it that Amethyst was a personal favorite of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia. Historically, the stone was believed to assist prophecy and visions and to bring riches and powers to its owners.” (2)

Well, on that note, I’m going to put all of my amethyst jewelry on! Riches and power, HERE I COME!!!

(1) (2) http://www.jewelsforme.com/amethyst-history.asp

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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Jewelry

 

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Cuffs of Love

wedding bracelets

With Valentines Day this thursday, my mind is drifting off to more romantic times. No, not in my life, in history, of course!!

The Victorian period brought about many romantic and sentimental designs in jewelry. From “regard” jewelry, that spelled out the word using a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond, to “hair” brooches that would contain a lock of your loved ones hair (also, popular as a form of mourning jewelry), to portrait miniatures, which was a common way to keep the image of a loved one close to your heart before the advent of photography.

One of the most popular love tokens of the Victorian Era were “wedding bracelets”. These were a set of two bracelets that we’re given to the bride to be by her future husband. She would wear one bracelet during the engagement and the other on her wedding day. Which is why, when these bracelet sets are found today, one is usually in better shape than the other due to not being worn as often.

yg bracelet pair

It was also common for these bracelet sets to be broken up, when a mother would eventually give one away to her daughter or daughter in law. So, it is quite something to find a well preserved pair of wedding bracelets still in their original fitted box.

Matching pairs of bangles in different styles have become a popular look on the red carpet, Sometimes you see both layered together on one arm and others it’s one on either arm, which is more of a Wonder Woman, chick power, Clash of the Titans look. I prefer it the second way, but give it a shot and see what works best for you!

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