Happy Halloween!

Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

Brompton Cemetery

Wishing all of you little pumpkins a fabulous Halloween!  Make sure that you have stacked up on sweets – or homemade, natural sugar-only treats ;) – for those teeny tiny Harry Potters, Grumpy Cats and ghosts that are bound to come knocking on your door.  And remember to incorporate some antique or vintage jewellery into your costumes – those witches didn’t wake up looking that fabulous, if you know that I am saying!?!!

Portobello Road Antique Snake Necklace with Diamonds Rubies and Sapphires

If you just want to give Halloween a little nudge, to show that you haven’t forgotten about it, you can always just a wear a piece of scary jewellery – like a snake necklace!

Happy Halloween!!!

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Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair 2014

LAPADA Fair in Berkeley Square, London

They do such a wonderful job setting up the LAPADA fair in Berkeley Square every year – making it so beautiful and inviting!

There was one stand at the LAPADA fair that I just had to stop at because of its pure beauty of colours and design:

Eddy Wertheim Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair in Berkeley Square

Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

I had reached the Japanese Gallery; traders since 1977, who bring us a wide selection of genuine Japanese art and artefacts, and showcase items like ceramics, Katana (traditionally made Japanese sword) and Ukiyo-e, that we are looking closer at below.

Beautiful porcelain cups and saucers from Japanese Gallery

Exquisite porcelain cups and saucers from Japanese Gallery

The Japanese word for describing porcelain and pottery is Yaki.  The history of porcelain-making in Japan is quite a brutal one, as a Japanese army invaded Korea in 1598, in the very beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868).  They kidnapped a few families that had learnt the art of pottery making from the Chinese, brought them back to Japan and set up their own porcelain production.  The continental influences remained in the art, even after Japanese artisans took to porcelain making and applied their artistic license many years later.

The famous tea ceremony culture gained ground in the late 16th century in Japan, which increased the porcelain production further.  Another increase in the demand of these exquisite pieces came with the baroque époque in Europe in the 17th century, when many people became wealthy and demanded oriental and unusual things.  (1)

This is a just a small extract of this fascinating history, and you can dig deeper into Japanese history on the Japanese Gallery website.

Japanese plate from the Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

Satsuma maple design plate 1868-1912 from the Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

Japanese Gallery Paintings at the LAPADA fair

Japanese Gallery art at the LAPADA fair

Ukiyo-e means “pictures of the floating world” and the world referred to in the name was one free from worries and concerns of life.  (1) and is a genre of woodblock prints and paintings that were popular in Japan from the 17th until the 19th century.  The artists would often paint beautiful women, sumo wrestlers, historic, landscape and travel scenes, as well as flora and fauna (2).

Japanese Kimono and Obi, the Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

Japanese Kimono and Obi, Japanese Gallery at the LAPADA fair

There was also a lovely lady dressed in a traditional kimono among all these beautiful treasures.  I will be writing a blog post about vintage kimonos soon, so I was absolutely delighted to get a few photos of her!

 

Japanese Gallery

66D Kensington Church Street

London

W8 4BY

 

Sources:

(1) Japanese Gallery

(2) Wikipedia

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The Fascinating Fire Opal

The other day a fire opal and diamond ring made it into my hands for a few moments, and I obviously took the chance to photograph it for us here on the blog:

Fire Opal and Diamond Ring

Fire Opal and Diamond Ring

Our love for fire opals date back to ancient times, when it was the symbol of passionate love in India, the Persian kingdom, and in the Americas.  The Mayas and Aztecs called it Quetzalitzlipyollitli - ‘the stone of the bird of paradise’, as they believed that this kind of beauty could only ever have been created in the waters of paradise. (1)  The most significant fire opal deposits in the world can be found in Mexico, and it is Mexico’s national gemstone.

Fire opals reach a hardness of 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale (where a diamond is a 10 and sapphires are a 9) so it is quite a sensitive gemstone and must be worn with care.  The extraordinary colour in the stone comes from little traces of iron oxide, and some fire opals display the play of colours that we see in regular opals, however they are mostly known for their vivid body colour, as opposed to other opals, where the play of colours is what determines the value.

These beautiful gemstones bring us a feeling of warmth and well-being, and they are thought to bring courage, will-power and energy to their wearer.

 

Sources

(1) International Coloured Gemstone Association

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Frock Me! Vintage Fashion Fair on Sunday 26th October 2014

FrockMe! Vintage Fashion Fair at Chelsea Old Town Hall

Sunday 26th of October it is all happening folks!  FrockMe! Vintage Fashion Fair takes place at Chelsea Old Town Hall

It is that time of year again my dear, when Chelsea Old Town Hall gets filled to the brim with beautiful vintage jewellery, clothing, shoes and other accessories, because Frock Me! Vintage Fashion Fair is back!  Designer pieces, flapper dresses and hats will fight for your attention from the rails and shelves, and you will have over 50 stalls to visit.

FrockMe! Vintage Fashion Fair, Chelsea Old Town Hall

Heavenly vintage accessories… 

Our very favourite Blackbird Tea Rooms from Brighton will of course be there to serve you piping hot tea with warm scones, jam and clotted cream, while you catch up with you girlfriends.  It obviously takes place in the middle of beautiful Chelsea, so you have the King’s Road just outside the doorstep, with more glorious shopping and lovely restaurants to enjoy.

Pennies Vintage Flapper Dresses

We fell in love with the collection of flapper dresses from Pennies Vintage a few years ago… gosh, these would be suitable for any episode of Downton!

Oh I so wish I could go, but I will be out of town!!!  As you already know I am completely addicted to Mad Men, and the series has inspired me to look for a 1950s night dress – you know those ankle length ones that are all soft and flowy with beautiful detailing.  Believe me, there is nothing in contemporary fashion that even slightly resembles that, so I have been waiting for the right vintage fair to come up – and unfortunately I will be out of town this weekend, but I will make sure to go to the next one!

FrockMe! Vintage Fashion Fair at Chelsea Old Town Hall

FrockMe! Vintage Fashion Fair at Chelsea Old Town Hall

Below are the details for the fair, and if you end up buying anything or just want to share some photos with us, do get in touch on info@decadesofelegance.com, as we would love to see it here on Decades of Elegance!

FrockMe! Vintage Fashion Fair

Sunday 26th October 2014
Chelsea Old Town Hall
King’s Road
SW3 5RR

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Andrew Prince Jewellery

Oh it was such a fun day in the shop yesterday, as Andrew Prince popped by (you might remember him from the earlier blog post Andrew Prince – Downton Abbey).

I was sitting at my desk in the shop when Andrew suddenly said: “Don’t move, I am just putting a little something on you”.  Now, one of my absolute favourite things in this line of work is of course trying on all the beautiful pieces, so I just sat there quietly until he had finished fiddling around with the necklace – and then I looked in the mirror, expecting a little something dainty:

Andrew Prince Jewels Statement Necklace with red stones and sparkle

Andrew Prince Jewellery

Yes, I should know by know that Andrew doesn’t do little or dainty – he does fabulous, glorious and exquisite, and all of his pieces makes you feel like you are the Queen of the World.  There is a thought behind the placement of each and every one of the pearls, red stones and the glorious sparkle, and I love how it all comes together in this necklace to create such an impact piece!  Oh well, just another day in paradise!

I hope that you are having a lovely day in the sunshine my dear – and don’t forget to put on your favourite pieces of jewellery!

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Hatton Garden – London’s Jewellery Quarter

Vintage snake necklace, Hatton Garden in London

A cheeky visit to Hatten Garden last week – obviously wearing the vintage snake necklace!

When I first started writing this blog almost 2,5 years ago, one of the first things that I did was visit Hatton Garden, since I had heard that it was the centre of the UK diamond trade and the heart of London’s antique jewellery world.  The other week I popped by there for work, which obviously was a great excuse to take some photos for you:

Hatton Garden, Jewellery Centre of London

Hatton Garden, Jewellery Centre of London

What I didn’t know the first time that I visited, was that the area surrounding Hatton Garden has been the centre of London’s jewellery trade since medieval times! (1)  In fact, the old City of London used to have specific quarters dedicated to various types of businesses, and the area around Hatton Garden sure hit the jackpot in my eyes, when it became a centre for jewellers and jewellery.  Hatton Garden is located very close to Chancery Lane, and you can also get there on foot from Holborn tube station.

Hatton Garden, Jewellery Centre of London

Diamonds, diamonds everywhere!

The history of Hatton Garden dates back to the 15th century, when the Bishops of Ely in London lived in Ely Place in Holborn.  One of Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite courtiers, Sir Christopher Hatton, built Holdenby Palace, one of the largest palaces in the Tudor period (1485-1603), in 1583 as an honour to the Queen.  She was mighty delighted about this and told the Bishop of Ely that he simply must rent a portion of his land to Hatton – although some say that the Queen actually granted Hatton the Bishop’s house, much to the Bishop’s displeasure!  Hatton went on to (in a very humble way..!) renaming the Garden in the area after himself, and so Hatton Garden was born! (2)

Hatton Garden, Jewellery Centre of London

Hatton Garden

Clerkenwell was at the time well known for watches and jewellery, but once the roads improved around Hatton Garden, craftsmen from Clerkenwell started populating this part of town as well.  Gold and platinum were trades of the street and Hatton Garden became known as a cutting centre for Indian diamonds; and once the Kimberley Diamond Rush of South Africa took place in the late 19th century, South African diamonds also found their way to Hatton Garden. (2)

Yellow diamond rings at Moira Jewellery at Richard Ogden, in the Burlington Arcade

Who knows, maybe some of these diamonds were cut a long time ago in Hatton Garden?  These beauties are from the exquisite collection of Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade

These days you can visit jewellery shops that specialise in traditional as well as contemporary designs in Hatton Garden, and it is definitely worth a visit as you can stroll down the streets and admire the most sparkling pieces of jewellery in the windows!

Sources:

1) Wikipedia – Hatton Garden

(2) Sterling Diamonds 

 

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The Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair, October 2014

Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

How beautiful is this autumn afternoon sky above the Esher Hall?  

Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair, October 2014

You might remember that I told you about the antiques fair in Esher Hall the other week, in the blog post: Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair, 10-12 October 2014?  Well, I went with some friends and it ended up being one of the loveliest antiques fairs that I have visited to date!  The atmosphere was so welcoming and everyone was delighted to tell us about their pieces – and believe me, there were a LOT of nice things on display!  This was the first fair in Surrey that Richard Ogden attended and our stand looked a little something like this:

Richard Ogden at Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Richard Ogden at Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Richard Ogden Antique Jewellery at the Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Some of the exquisite pieces from the Richard Ogden collection at the antiques fair  

Richard Ogden at Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Richard Ogden at Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Richard Ogden at Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

The most unusual artwork of Tanzanite creates this unique bracelet – from Moira Fine Jewels at Richard Ogden 

T Robert Antique Jewellery Norfolk Moonstone Necklace ca 1910

T Robert Antique Jewellery from Norfolk 

We then continued on to a stand where a beautiful moonstone necklace from circa 1910 caught our attention – we had reached T Robert from Norfolk.  This elegant collection can mainly be viewed at antiques fairs, as they travel across the UK to show us their range of exquisite  pieces.

T Robert Antique Jewellery Norfolk Moonstone Necklace ca 1910

T Robert Antique Jewellery Norfolk Moonstone Necklace ca 1910

Above is the piece that my friend fell in love with: a 15ct gold Ceylon sapphire and moonstone necklace, which displayed a range of different colours, depending on what light we viewed it in.

T Robert Antique Jewellery Norfolk

I am sure you can guess which one of these beauties caught my attention…! (hint: the Decades of Elegance logo)

There were so many wonderful stands to visit, with everything from 18th century furniture, to unique pieces of glassware, to the most divine Art Deco furniture.  If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit an antique fair, there are still some very exciting ones coming up before Christmas and I would so warmly recommend that you pop by one them!  It really is the most enjoyable way of spending a few hours, and you always learn so much, which is definitely my favourite part!

Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

Esher Hall Antiques & Fine Art Fair

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A New York Antique Ring Exhibition from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection

Snake ring with garnet heart, from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection

Greek snake ring with a garnet heart, Hellenistic Greece, 2nd-1st century BC

Good morning my dear, today I wanted to let you know about an upcoming exhibition called “Cycles of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection”, which will be taking place at Les Enluminures’ New York gallery from October 31 until December 6, 2014.  Let’s start out by taking a closer look at Benjamin Zucker and the story behind the collection:

“Benjamin Zucker began assembling his collection in 1969, when enchanted by a gold, enamel, and filigree 17th-century Jewish marriage ring, which was part the Melvin Gutman collection auction of antique jewelry at Sotheby Parke Bernet.  This purchase proved life changing, prompting him to join the family business of dealing in gems and precious stones.  Since his first purchase, he has assembled one of the largest collections of Jewish marriage rings in private hands along with, as noted by jewelry historian Diana Scarisbrick, ‘a collection of diamond jewelry that is unrivalled anywhere, even by De Beers.’”

late renaissance diamond cluster ring from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection

Late renaissance diamond cluster ring – most likely of Spanish origin, ca 1630-40.  The ring comes with a secret compartment that contained an opiate in some form.  It was not uncommon to have these secret compartments in rings and some would hold religious relics whereas some would contain poison so that the bearer could remove their enemies of rivals by pouring it into their food or drink!  

In the words of Dr. Sandra Hindman, the founder of Les Enluminures:

“We are absolutely thrilled to have acquired this unparalleled collection. It’s a dealer’s dream come true at every imaginable level — the quality of diamonds, precious colored stones, and Jewish marriage rings offered are superb, as are the accompanying provenances. I have known Benjamin Zucker for a long time, and I have always admired his exquisite taste as a collector, as well as his acute intelligence. It’s a wonderful honor to be able to pay tribute to his level of dedication by advancing further scholarship on his collection. We especially look forward to presenting these incredible examples of such dedicated connoisseurship to clients, old and new, as wearable, intimate works of art.”

The exhibition will show how rings present to us the culture of their time, and it will also explore the distinctive role of rings as the most personal forms of jewellery.  Let’s look at some of these antique ring-highlights:

Rothschild Diamond Ring, Les Enluminures, the Benjamin Zucker collection

Renaissance Gimmel Ring with Memento Mori, dated 1631

Rothschild Diamond Ring, Les Enluminures, the Benjamin Zucker collection

Renaissance Gimmel Ring with Memento Mori, dated 1631

RENAISSANCE GIMMEL RING WITH MEMENTO MORI, Germany, dated 1631

The word gimmel comes from the Latin word for twin: gemellus.  This refers to the double bezel and hoop that open up to show the names and date of the ring.  The twinning of the two stones and hoops refers to a man and a woman, and the inscription reads:

“What God has joined together let not man put asunder“ (Matt. 19:6, Mark 10:9)

… a reference to the strength of the marriage vows.  The symbolism of the ring continues with the hands offering hearts at the shoulders of the ring, as well as the representation of a warm heart and fidelity by the ruby and the indestructible diamond.

Roman Gold Ring with 2 Snakes, Les Enluminures, Benjamin Zucker Collection

Roman gold ring with two snakes

Roman Gold Ring with 2 Snakes, Les Enluminures, Benjamin Zucker Collection

Roman gold ring with two snakes

ROMAN SNAKE RING
Roman Empire, c. 2nd century AD.  Since we love snake jewellery here on the blog, we obviously have our eyes on this Roman gold snake ring!  It consists of a single gold rod with realistically modeled snake heads at each end, bent into a coil of two turns, with the heads turned back on themselves.  Similar types of gold snake rings and bracelets have been found at Pompeii, near modern Naples in Italy, dating to no later than AD 79, when Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  And just on a side note: when Pompeii was rediscovered ca 1,500 years after the eruption, it was found that the objects that were buried beneath the city had all been well preserved as a result of the lack of air and moisture, and suddenly we were given the most extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana!

So my dear, if you find yourself in our beloved New York at any point during October 31 and December 6, 2014, do make sure to pop by Les Enluminures and see this exquisite exhibition with your own eyes – and do tell us about your favourite pieces!

LES ENLUMINURES

23 East 73rd Street, 7th Floor, Penthouse
New York, NY 10021
tel +1 212 717 7273
Opening Hours: Mondays to Saturdays 10 AM to 6 PM

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Moira Jewels at the LAPADA Art and Antiques Fair

Good morning dearest!  We are back at the LAPADA fair in Berkeley Square from the other week, and today we are admiring the collection of Moira Jewels:

Moira Jewels at the Lapada Art & Antiques Fair, Berkeley Square.  Aquamarine and Diamond Earrings, Black Opal Ring with diamonds

A few beauties from Moira’s collection: a pair of aquamarine and diamond earrings, and a black opal ring with diamonds

I have been told by quite a few people to look closer at the pieces that belong to Moira’s collection, as they are some of the finest antique and vintage jewels around.  Above is a pair of aquamarine and diamond earrings – pretty sure I can hear a few of you swoon!

Aquamarine and diamond ring from Moira Jewels at the Lapada Fair

A few dress rings (also called cocktail rings) from Moira.  I adore the opal at the front here with its soft colours

I obviously have the privilege of looking at Moira’s pieces to my heart’s content, as they have their collection on display at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade!  Their pieces span across the 20th century and you will find signed originals from the finest design houses, covering the art deco period – and continuing on to 1940s gold work and the modernist creations of the 1950s to the 1980s.

Vintage diamond watches from Moira Jewels

Vintage diamond watches from Moira Jewels

… and if you are anything like me, then these Art Deco diamond watches will make your heart beat just a little bit faster!  Oh can you imagine wearing one of these to that birthday party, or to those drinks at the weekend?  As soon as I wear a special piece of jewellery, I get so much more inspired to get dressed up and match it with a lovely dress.  I do think that we have moved away a little bit too much from the times when we would often wear our finest, so let’s just bring that back, shall we?  I am doing a proper summer to winter-wardrobe revamp this week and I will make sure to keep some glorious dresses out to stay inspired to wear them!

Antique diamond tiara from Moira Jewels at Lapada Art and Antiques Fair

 Diamond tiaras from Moira Jewels

And these diamond tiaras were just too pretty you guys!!  Here in the UK (since I know that you lovely readers are based around the world) it is quite common for the bride to wear a tiara, and so it is just wonderful when these lovely ladies come into the shop and try on our collection of vintage and antique tiaras!  I would love to hear whether you would choose to wear a tiara or a veil or flowers or just a gorgeous hairdo at your wedding?

I will write a longer post on Moira Jewels soon and bring you some more photos of these heavenly pieces, and now I would like to wish you a lovely rest of the day!

 

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Opal and Tourmaline – the October birthstones

October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.

This is the October birthstone poem included in Tiffany & Co’s pamphlet from 1870, “of unknown author”.

Opal and diamond necklace from Richard Ogden

An exquisite antique opal and diamond necklace from Richard Ogden

Oh you lucky October-born ladies and gents, your birthstones are the beautiful Opal and Tourmaline.  We quite recently looked closer at opals in the blog post The enchanting landscape of the Opal, and learnt that it is the national gemstone of Australia, which is where almost 95% of all opals come from.  I was delighted to finally get a good excuse to show you the this Art Nouveau-style opal and diamond pendant (photo above).  It comes together in that sweet little acorn design at the bottom, with nature being such a great source of inspiration during this period.

Antique Opal and diamond earrings at Richard Ogden

Antique Opal and diamond earrings at Richard Ogden

Vintage opal necklace

My favourite opal necklace 

The opal is associated with hope, innocence and purity, and it is thought to bring happiness, faithfulness, confidence and loyalty to its bearer – sounds pretty good to me!

Vintage tourmaline earrings, Cape Town

A pair of elegant vintage tourmaline earrings from Cape Town

Vintage tourmaline earrings, Cape Town

Vintage tourmaline earrings from Cape Town

Tourmaline is the other birthstone for October, which comes in a wide range of colours – above we can see a pair of green tourmaline earrings.  It can display several different colours in one single gemstone and I actually met a gem trader a little while ago who showed me some pieces of tourmaline that featured a rainbow of different colours, so I will definitely have to write another blog post on that once I locate the photos!  Tourmaline is found in Brazil, East Africa, Afghanistan and the US.

I was also very interested to find out that tourmaline has a rather unusual property: when it is warmed or rubbed it attracts small bits of paper, lint and ash, because it becomes charged with static electricity.  Benjamin Franklin saw the significance of it and used tourmaline in his studies of electricity.  Tourmaline is said to calm you down, and it is also believed to chase away fear, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the “Peace Stone”.

So a happy birthday to you, all you lovely October children, now go and enjoy your beautiful birthstones!

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