Diamond and Emerald Antique French Wasp Brooch by Fontana

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Crown rose diamond and emerald wasp brooch set in silver and gold.

By Fontana
French, ca. 1875
Width: 3 inches.

$37,500

Diamond and Emerald Wasp Brooch by Fontana Back

Fabergé Enamel and Gold Desk Seal

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Pink guilloché and white enamel gold-mounted desk seal, set with seed pearls and a crown rose diamond, with carnelian sealstone.

By Fabergé, workmaster H. Wigström. St. Petersburg, ca. 1900
Length: 2 1/2 inches

angled view showing diamond at top, Fabergé Enamel and Gold Desk Sealother view showing seal stone, Fabergé Enamel and Gold Desk Sealdetail of base, Fabergé Enamel and Gold Desk Seal

Antique Chased Gold and Diamond Monogram Box

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Chased rectangular gold presentation box with crowned diamond-set cipher of King Louis Philippe.
French, 1830-1845.
Length: 3-1/4 inches

open view, Antique Chased Gold and Diamond Monogram Boxback view, Antique Chased Gold and Diamond Monogram Box

Natural Pearl and Diamond Cluster Ring

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Victorian natural pearl and old mine diamond cluster ring, set in silver and gold. Each diamond is approx. 0.80 carats. Warm silver overtone natural pearl is approx. 13mm with high dome.

English, ca. 1870.
Cluster diameter: 3/4 inch

$24,000

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

aerial view, Natural Pearl and Diamond Cluster Ringside view, Natural Pearl and Diamond Cluster Ring

Antique Enamel and Gold Tassel Earrings

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Pair of blue engine-turned enamel earrings ornamented with spiraling diamonds, and fringe of gold tassels.

English, ca. 1870
Length: 2 1/4  inches

$38,000

gold and enamel tassel earrings, a

Antique Gold and Enamel Arts and Crafts Ring

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Arts and Crafts 14k gold ring with black enamel floral designs and three small diamonds surmounting the high setting.

American, ca. 1925.

$5,800

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

Antique Gold and Enamel Arts and Crafts Style Ring, cAntique Gold and Enamel Arts and Crafts Style Ring, aAntique Gold and Enamel Arts and Crafts Style Ring, b

Mrs. Newman Enamel and Amethyst Floral Pendant

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Gold-mounted enamel and amethyst floral spray pendant. In original case.

By Mrs. Philip Newman.
English, ca. 1910.
Length: 2-1/2 inches.

$9,800

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

back view, Mrs. Newman Enamel and Amethyst Floral Pendantoriginal box view, Mrs. Newman Enamel and Amethyst Floral Pendant

Antique Rock Crystal Necklace

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Cushion-cut rock crystal necklace mounted in silver and gold.

English, ca. 1890
Length: 16 1/2 inches

$26,000

Antique Rock Crystal Necklace, closedAntique Rock Crystal Necklace, detailAntique Rock Crystal Necklace, back

Swiss Gold and Enamel Patch Box

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Gold and enamel patch box with a scene of Mt. Blanc as seen from Lake Geneva.

Swiss, late 19th century
Width: 2 inches

top view, Swiss Gold and Enamel Patch Boxback view, Swiss Gold and Enamel Patch Boxinterior view, Swiss Gold and Enamel Patch Box

Victorian Gold and Woven Hair Pendant Earrings

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Pair of 18k gold and woven hair pendant earrings. These earrings appear in our Victorian hair jewelry video on our videos page.

English, ca. 1870.
Length: 2 1/4 inches

$2,700

This item is available for purchase in the ALVR shop.

Model wearing Victorian Gold and Woven Hair Pendant Earrings

A Thimbleful of History

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collection of thimbles

Antique thimbles are trinkets most often of precious materials, as beautiful as they are functional, imbued with both sentimental and intrinsic value. While they originated as sewing implements, over the centuries their decorative features evolved to complement their new functions as fashionable gifts, status symbols, and tokens of affection.

In the preindustrial era, the significant amount of domestic sewing made thimbles and other sewing implements common household possessions. Over time, they became increasingly valuable. For example, by the sixteenth-century, silver thimbles were listed in wills and other legal documents.

In this period, decorative thimbles became fashionable gifts, a trend believed to be set by Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603) when she gave a gem-set thimble to a lady-in-waiting. For centuries it was customary to include thimbles and other sewing tools in a bride’s trousseau, a tradition that carried into the nineteenth-century. Thimbles given by a lady’s fiancé usually featured inscriptions like ‘A token of regard’ or ‘Forget-me-not.’

Gold and Enamel Thimble

Gold Directoire period French thimble with black and white enamel border.

As thimbles became more valuable, they became more decorative. In the fourteenth-century, French goldsmiths began making decorative thimbles. By the sixteenth-century, thimble decoration became more distinctive, consisting of relief designs, foliate scrolls, and mottoes. The finest thimbles were mostly gold.  Other materials varied by region. Glass thimbles came from Venice and Bohemia and wooden thimbles came from Germany and Austria.

Gold and Turquoise Floral Thimble

English 18k gold thimble with with turquoises, pearls, and gold scrolls set in an elegant floral pattern. Mid-nineteenth-century.

The production of porcelain thimbles began in the eighteenth-century by a number of factories, but thimbles from the Meissen factory remain the most revered and sought after by collectors. Porcelain thimbles share common decorative motifs like flowers, birds, silhouettes, landscapes, fishing or hunting scenes, pastoral scenes, harlequinades, and chinoiseries. Rims are often scalloped or crenellated.

porcelain thimbles

Left: English Bilston Battersea thimble with multi-colored floral sprays on a white ground. 1765.
Middle: Meissen porcelain thimble with early pruncing and a wide border of flowers. Mid-eighteenth-century.
Right: Meissen porcelain thimble with chinoiserie decoration. 1735-40.

Gem-set thimbles featured an array of gemstones like moonstone, amethyst, jade, topaz, sardonyx, coral, onyx, turquoise, carnelian, and moss agate. Some were thought to have apotropaic qualities specifically for protecting eyesite, a fair concern for a seamstress. Moss agates protected the eyes, as well as sardonyx, which offered the added bonus of defending witchcraft. Turquoise thwarted eye disease and poison.

Antique Gold and Turquoise Thimble

English 18k gold thimble set with seven turquoises within a floral scroll decorated border with scalloped edge. Ca. 1840.

Today, thimbles still make excellent gifts and are avidly collected. Also, if one happens to be in search of a protective amulet, by all means, consider a thimble.

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Victorian Black Diamond Pendant

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Black diamond and old-mine diamond cluster pendant set in platinum and gold.

English, ca. 1890.
Length: 1 inch (excl. bail)
(Black diamond 37 cts)