Thursday, May 16, 2013

All About Paste

Paste has for centuries been a popular and beautiful material used in costume jewelry. Made of flint glass, paste can be either clear or colored. In better quality paste pieces, like these Victorian English earrings, the stones are faceted and polished. Although more fragile than diamonds and other gemstones, paste still sparkles and has beautiful radiance. These earrings are 9K gold with three- part clusters of blue paste. Antique paste is highly collectible today and continues to be a wonderful substitute for diamonds and gemstones.

French jeweler Georges Frederic Strass invented clear paste in 1724, and it soon became all the rage, spreading in popularity to other countries, England in particular. Paste continued to be made through the 20th century, and was desirable in its own right, not just as a replacement for higher value stones. Pieces of lesser value were not made with less skill and craftsmanship. Jewelry continued to be made to the highest standards. These pieces were also not made for a lower class: royal and aristocratic woman wore paste pieces as well as their finer sets of jewels. Strass’s work was so admired in the court of Louis XIV of France that he was named the “King’s Jeweler,” and Marie Antoinette further popularized paste jewelry by wearing it at court.
Throughout history, people have been fascinated with recreating finer materials with less expensive options. These earrings represent a time of inventiveness in jewelry making and continue to be a fun, beautiful alternative!