Edwardian Carved Jade Pendant Earrings

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Carved jade, diamond, and enamel pendant earrings. …

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Tags: carved Edwardian enamel jade

Edwardian Jeweled Japonisme Corsage Pendant Brooch

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Edwardian era jeweled “Japonisme” corsage pendant brooch with three shakudo-esque lacquer panels surrounded by diamonds, further decorated with garlands, bowknots, and diamond tassels, set in platinum.

American, possibly Dreicer & Co.
New York, ca. 1914
Length: 6 inches

Edwardian / Belle Epoch Jewelry (1890 – 1915)

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Edwardian jewelry was produced in England around the time of the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910.  The term connotes very ornate, lacy and intricate metal-work, in milgrain and filigree, often now in platinum.  Many antique “engagement rings” come from this period with the single larger stone (usually diamond) in the center set in an ornate pierced-openwork setting with smaller diamonds.

The period’s main styles include bows, garlands, lace, and stylized floral motifs.

Edwardian Amethyst and Diamond Ring

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Edwardian amethyst and diamond ring, mounted in platinum.

American, ca. 1915.

$11,500

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

Edwardian Emerald and Diamond Ring

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Edwardian cabochon emerald ring with diamond shoulders and bezel, set in platinum.

English, ca. 1915
(Emerald approx. 7.24 cts)

$78,000

top view, Edwardian Emerald and Diamond Ringside view, Edwardian Emerald and Diamond Ring

Edwardian Old Mine Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

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Edwardian old-mine cushion cut diamond ring set in platinum with baguette shoulders.

English, ca. 1910
(2.06 cts E VS2)

$32,000

other view, Edwardian Old Mine Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ringback, Edwardian Old Mine Cushion Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

Edwardian Diamond Dinner Ring

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Edwardian old-mine and brilliant-cut diamond navette ring, mounted in a long open-work and milgrain platinum setting.

American, ca. 1910
Length: 1 1/2 inches
(approx. 4 cts total, center stone approx. .75 carats)

$24,000

Edwardian Diamond Dinner Ring, aEdwardian Diamond Dinner Ring, bEdwardian Diamond Dinner Ring, back

Edwardian Diamond and Emerald Ring

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Edwardian-era diamond ring set in platinum, featuring an approximately 1.25 ct central diamond, and with emerald bands.

English, ca. 1915

$18,500

Edwardian Diamond and Emerald Ring, side 1Edwardian Diamond and Emerald Ring, side 2Edwardian Diamond and Emerald Ring, top

Edwardian Natural Pearl and Diamond Cluster Ring

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Cluster ring of three natural colored pearls in varying shades of black, set in a diamond and platinum mount.

American, ca. 1915.
(Diamonds approx. 1.20 cts.)

$6,400

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

top view, Edwardian Natural Pearl and Diamond Cluster Ringback, Edwardian Natural Pearl and Diamond Cluster Ring

Marcus & Co. Onyx and Diamond Drop Earrings

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Edwardian diamond and invisibly-set onyx drop earrings, mounted in milgrain platinum.

by Marcus & Co., ca. 1915
Length: 1 1/2 in.

$22,000

These earrings appear in our Ear Candy exhibition video series.
Marcus & Co. Onyx and Diamond Drop Earrings
Marcus & Co. Onyx and Diamond Drop Earrings, mark

ALVR Blog: The Empress of Gems – Pearls

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Now that it’s June, it’s time to layer on the pearls, the birthstone for this month!

Appropriately dubbed  “the queen of gems,” pearls have long been associated with royalty, crowning the heads of many queens throughout history. Cleopatra’s legendary pearl earrings, Byzantium’s Empress Theodora’s pearl tiara, and Queen Elizabeth I’s pearl-studded ensembles, for example, immediately spring to mind. But here at A La Vieille Russie, we think of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Colored photograph of Russian Empress Alexandra FeodorovnaThe Tsarina was not particularly interested in fashion, preferring simpler, lightweight gowns to the sumptuous finery she donned at court. Her taste in jewelry was similar, favoring pearls over other gems, noted by American writer Kellogg Durland, who traveled to Russia in 1907 to write about the Empress. He later reflected on this visit in his 1911 book, “Royal Romances of To-Day,” in which he remarks on Alexandra’s fondness for pearls:

“The Tsaritsa’s pearls, which she wears with her court costume are famous the world over. […] Perhaps, of all her jewels, she cares most for a long string of wonderful pearls, which she wears very often. The string is so long that she can wear it twice around her neck, and yet have the longest loop reach to her knees. The short loop comes to the waistline, and is finished with one single pear-shaped pearl of enormous value.”

This penchant for pearls was nicely documented, for example, in our colored photograph of the Empress (pictured above) and in this charming photograph of Alexandra and the Tsarevich, Alexei, playing with her pearls:

1913 photograph of Empress Alexandra and her son, Alexei, playing with her pearls

Empress Alexandra and the Tsarevich, Alexei, via Wikimedia Commons

Who can blame the Empress’s preference for pearls? These gems of the sea have captivated mankind for millennia and it’s easy to see why, from their beautiful luster to their seemingly magical, organic formation.

Pearls have long been associated with purity, innocence, and humility, qualities that can be attributed to their mystifying, organic origins. American mineralogist, (and Tiffany & Co. Vice President 1879-1932), George Fredirick Kunz explains how: 

“Unlike other gems, the pearl comes to us perfect and beautiful, direct from the hand of nature. Other precious stones receive careful treatment from the lapidary, and owe much to his art. The pearl, however, owes nothing to man […] it is absolutely a gift of nature, on which man cannot improve.”

As an organic gem, the pearl’s origins intrigued and perplexed man for centuries. Its association with the sea led to many water-inspired myths and theories. Ancient poets surmised that pearls formed from tears of the gods that fell into open oysters.  Similarly, in Greek and Roman mythology, Aphrodite/Venus shook droplets of water from herself as she rose from the sea, the droplets then hardening into pearls. Such myths inspired the belief that pearls formed from drops of dew, a theory that persisted for centuries. This theory endured until around the 16th century, when naturalists began to speculate that pearls formed from oyster eggs.

Pearls in fact are the result of a mollusk’s response to a foreign particle. The pearls form when layers of nacre (mother of pearl), a variety of calcium carbonate, surround a foreign particle, like a grain of sand or a parasite. Not as fantastical as tears of a god, but still magical in its own way.

For centuries, the main sources of pearls were the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean, as well as the rivers and lakes of China and the coast of Japan. After 1492, the discovery of pearls in the New World provided Europe a supply so great that the region came to be called the “Land of Pearls.” 

alternate view, Baroque Pearl and Diamond Dog FigurinePearls come in many colors, ranging from white to black, and varying shades of cream, gray, blue, yellow, lavender, green, and mauve. The color produced depends on the mollusk and its environment. Pearls also vary in size, from tiny seed pearls, to large, irregularly shaped baubles called baroque pearls. Baroque pearls were popular in their namesake Baroque period but also so during the Renaissance, when jewelers fashioned them into pendants and brooches resembling animals, mermaids, and other creative, figural representations. Baroque pearls continued to inspire jewelers in subsequent periods, including during the Renaissance Revival period in the mid-nineteenth century, and even later. For example, our baroque pearl and diamond dog figurine/pendant dates to the early twentieth century.

Contemporary Diamond and Pearl Spider BroochContemporary jewelers continue to use pearls in creative ways. For example, a large cultured pearl is used as the body in this late 20th century spider brooch. A cultured pearl results from manmade intervention in the pearl-making process. A particle, such as a bead or a piece of shell, is placed inside a mollusk for the layers of nacre to form around it. While such attempts existed for centuries, it wasn’t until the turn of the twentieth century when a number of individuals successfully refined the process. What was once a rare jewel only accessible to royals and aristocrats now became attainable for many people throughout the world.

Throughout history, pearls were not just prized for adornment, but also valued for their presumed curative properties. Ingesting pearls was believed to cure any number of ailments, from indigestion to melancholia. Elixirs were made with pulverized pearl and vinegar, sometimes with the addition of lemon juice and other ingredients. While we can’t speak on the curative benefits of ingesting pearls (in fact, please don’t), wearing them is sure to chase away the blues! As George Fredirick Kunz, said, “there are few ills to which women are subject that cannot be bettered or at least endured with greater patience when the sufferer receives a gift of pearls.” At ALVR we’re pleased to offer a lovely assortment of pearl gifts, from brooches to rings. Here are some of our favorites:

Sources:
Dirlam, Dona M, Elise B. Misiorowski, and Sally A. Thomas, “Pearl Fashion Through the Ages,” GIA.edu. https://www.gia.edu/doc/Pearl-Fashion-Through-the-Agesv.pdf (accessed 6/1/2020).
Durland, Kellogg. “Royal Romances of To-day.” United Kingdom: Duffield, 1911.
Kunz, George Frederick., Stevenson, Charles Hugh. “The Book of the Pearl: The History, Art, Science, and Industry of the Queen of Gems.” United Kingdom: Century Company, 1908.
Matlins, Antoinette L. The Pearl Book: The Definitive Buying Guide – How to Select, Buy, Care for and Enjoy Pearls. United States: LongHill Partners, Incorporated, 2001.
“Pearl” on Antique Jewelry University, Lang Antiques & Estate Jewelry, https://www.langantiques.com/university/pearl/ (accessed 6/1/2020).
Pointon, Marcia R. “Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewellery.” Germany: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2009.
Ward, Fred. “The History of Pearls,” PBS.org, December 29, 1998. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/history-pearls/ (accessed 6/1/2020).

Natural Pearl and Diamond Drop Earrings

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Natural pearl earrings, in pavé platinum and diamond settings, topped with Asscher-cut diamonds.

English, circa 1910.

Length: 2-1/4 inches

$52,000

side view, Natural Pearl and Diamond Drop Earrings