Thursday, April 17, 2014

Victorian Jet Locket

Antique mourning jewelry is a favorite here at Prather Beeland, and although I’ve written about it before here and here, I thought that this beautiful Victorian jet locket deserves special attention. It brings together elements of trends set by two style icons of their day: Queen Victoria (below left in mourning) and her daughter-in-law Princess Alexandra (below right in some of her favorite jewels). Jet, a semi-precious mineral made when wood is subject to extreme pressure, has been used for jewelry in Britain since the Bronze Age. The ancient Romans, also great fans of jet jewelry, sourced their jet from Whitby, a British town that continues to be famous for its jet mines. When Queen Victoria entered mourning for her husband, black jewelry materials such as jet saw a new spike in popularity. The starburst motif on the front of the locket was popularized by Princess Alexandra, a beloved public figure and jewelry fanatic who frequently wore star and crescent moon designs set with pearls or diamonds. Alexandra’s fashions were emblematic of the Aesthetic Period: toward the end of the Victorian era, as the people tired of decades of mourning and women became more active in the public sphere, lighter jewelry with a sense of fun pushed back against the heavier styles of years past and expressed one’s identity as a modern, liberated woman. This piece brings together the styles of both the Queen and the Princess, and also has its own story to tell: who is the man with the hopeful expression in the locket’s photograph, and who was wearing it and thinking of him? Check it out here.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Edward Steichen- Art Deco Fashion and Photography

While in Melbourne traveling and looking for new jewels for Prather Beeland, I went to the Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria. It is an amazing exhibit of fashion and of photographs by the world-renowned Steichen, who is credited with being the first fashion photographer. Encouraged by mentor Alfred Stieglitz, Steichen moved between New York and Paris, eventually becoming head photographer for "Vogue" and "Vanity Fair." He was on the cutting edge, experimenting to create avant-garde photographs of actors and dancers, as well as fashion, and his images became synonymous with the glamourous Art Deco era. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the dresses - too fantastic for words! - mixed with Steichen photographs.

Jewelry was a crucial part of Art Deco fashion, and my absolutely favorite part of the exhibit was looking at each photo with an eye to how jewelry was used to complement the gorgeous clothes. Many amazing Art Deco jewelry creations can be seen in Steichen's photographs, as in the examples below. Fantastic to see the bracelets, earrings, and necklaces of diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and other popular gems of the era. These glorious jewels were worn with dresses made from the most luxurious fabrics, often covered in sparkle themselves. What a way to look! What a way to dress! See this exhibit at the NGV if you can. Jewels from my travels will be on Prather Beeland soon!

Dancers Leonore and Maurice, Her Jewels and that Dress- In Love, 1924
Dresses by Vionnet, Beautiful Jewels-Stacked Diamond Bracelets!, 1930

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beautiful Bohemian Garnet!

Garnets were among the favorite gems of Georgian and Victorian jewelers. They were used in expensive, high quality jewelry, sometimes set along with other more precious stones. The Bohemian Garnet, unusually appealing and popular due to its deep, clear red color, was most often faceted and set in low-carat (5K) gold or other metals. Bohemian Garnets, from the garnet family called Pyrope, have been mined for hundreds of years in ancient Bohemia, now the Czech Republic.

The jewels above are beautiful examples of Bohemian Garnets from the Victorian Era. The exquisitely hand-faceted stones reflect and refract light, making them a flattering addition to any look - day or night! For these and other garnets:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pier Show November 23-24

I am just thrilled to let everyone know that I will be helping the fabulous Gloria (see above!) from Glorious Antiques at the Pier Show this weekend- November 23-24 on Pier 94.  Packed with vintage and antiques items, this show is a fabulous place to shop! There are many dealers with all sorts of goods, but I am of course partial to the jewels- as I imagine you may be too.  Hailing from Hastings on Hudson outside of NYC, Gloria has been studying historic jewelry and in the business for 30 years.  She has wealth of knowledge about antique jewelry and an eye to envy! It is my biggest delight getting to learn from her (and try on her fantastic pieces!).

I occasionally work with Gloria modeling her jewels for the Glorious Antiques pages on 1st dibs.  See a sampling below:

I hope you all will stop by to visit Glorious Antiques in Booth # 3211!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Georgian Mourning Rings

Mourning jewelry has appeared in various forms throughout history, but it held an especially long streak of popularity from the 16th to 19th centuries. In the 16th century, mourning jewelry trended toward images of memento mori (such as skulls or skeletons) or locks of the deceased’s hair held in a locket. In the 17th century, miniature portraits of the deceased became a common theme, with a surge after the execution of King Charles I, whose supporters wore his image. The Georgian era (1714-1830) saw a turn away from portraits of a dead loved one toward romantic depictions of grieving women, often accompanied by imagery such as tombstones, urns, and weeping willows. The names or initials of the dead and sentimental sayings about eternal love or eternal life might also appear. Hair, once confined to a locket, began to take a more front-and-center role, woven and coiled into decorative patterns, a fashion that would continue to flourish in the Victorian era (1837 – 1901). Queen Victoria, perhaps the most famous wearer of mourning jewelry, popularized all-black mourning attire, spreading the use of enamel, jet, onyx, and other black materials in jewelry.

One of our latest finds at Prather Beeland is this gorgeous late Georgian mourning ring. Mounted in a black and gold setting, the miniature depicts a woman in neoclassical robes and an urn. The ring’s back features two sets of initials, perhaps of a husband and wife. A beautiful piece for a romantic’s collection!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Town & Country Style Spy: Jewelry

A dear family friend sent me a tear out from September’s Town & Country that I wanted to share! “This Old Thing?” reminded me of what we do here at Prather Beeland. Taking old pieces and giving them new life. One jewelry designer took ancient spearheads, set them in gold, surrounded them in diamonds, and made earrings. Others were making brooches from antique mosaics or rings with ancient coins. It is amazing the ways people come up with beautiful jewelry designs combining old and new. Check out the article in T&C and see some Prather Beeland Updated Antiques below:
18K and Old Mine cut diamond pendant made
from antique stick pin

Citrine and gold filled pendant
made from a bracelet clasp

SS, Mother of Pearl, Moonstone, and Enamel
Earrings made from cufflinks

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Engagement Rings

One of the reasons I LOVE working in the jewelry business is that I get to help make people happy, whether it’s people finding gifts for themselves or for loved ones, or people receiving jewelry as a gift. Engagement rings are one of the most fun gifts for me to help someone pick out: whether the ring comes as a total surprise or the couple selects it together, being part of something that will be worn forever is such a treat.

Although the modern American idea of an engagement ring dates back only to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, variations on the engagement ring have existed for millennia and across cultures, including the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and many groups across Asia. Egyptians wore and were buried in a thin silver or gold band, Romans had an iron and gold band, the latter for out of the house wear only, and Asian rulers used rings as a way to identify their multiple wives. Christians increasingly embraced the engagement ring tradition beginning in the 13th century. The first known engagement ring featuring diamonds arrived on the scene in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a band set with diamond “chips” in the shape as a letter “M.” However, non-diamond engagement ring trends would continue for centuries. In eighteenth-century America, for example, colonial women often turned the standard engagement gift of a sewing thimble into a ring by removing the thimble’s top. When diamonds were discovered in South Africa at Cape Colony in 1867, the sudden plentiful supply allowed diamond jewelry to really take off. By the end of the 1800s, the modern diamond engagement ring was becoming increasingly well-established, but it took a clever DeBeers marketing campaign in the 1930s to make the link between diamonds and love as firm as it is today in our minds. Nevertheless, non-diamond engagement rings aren’t going anywhere – one need look no further than the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring, which features a large center sapphire surrounded by diamonds, for evidence that the diamond solitaire is not your only option.

Here at Prather Beeland, we love engagement rings whether they’re big or small, and with any kind of stone. Whether you’re dreaming of a classic diamond or looking to start a new trend, we’ve got some of our favorite picks for you below!

Sapphires and Diamonds
Non-traditional! Diamonds
Opals and Rose Cuts
Platinum, .51ct Old European Cut
14K, 1.50 Old European Cut