Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jewelry for the Man in Your Life

All too often when we think of jewelry, we think of ladies. But here at Vintages we have not forgotten jewelry for men. The well dressed gentleman sports a variety of adornments from rings and cuff links to tie pins and bracelets. We have a nice variety of all of these items, and more ...
This photo of Benjamin Shambaugh (Founder of the Organization of American Historians) shows the well-dressed man of the early 1900s. He has a tie pin and a French cuff shirt with cuff links. (Photo from our files.)
Two late-Victorian gentlemen. The one on the left is wearing both a tie pin and a tie bar. The man on the right has a watch chain attached to the middle button of his vest.
The Victorian gentleman had many jewelry items from which to choose. We have a collection of watch chains, tie pins and cuff links from the period.
Watch chains made from a variety of metals ($18 to $69 each)
Tie pins or stickpins from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These range in price from $18 to $95, depending on the metal and stone in the design.
A collection of Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Mid-century Modern cuff links (from $42 each)
Tie bars and clasps, rings and cuff links from the mid-20th century are also in our inventory.
Tie bars or clasps (Clockwise from top left: Sterling & gold boot $69; 14k gold & jade $95; Swank cameo $28; Gold-filled picture agate $65)
A selection of men's sized rings in gold and silver with a variety of stones.
See our selection of silver cigarette cases and other accessories.
Sterling silver cigarette cases. L: c1910 Edwardian silver case ($145); R: c1900 Russian Art Nouveau silver case ($496)
In a contemporary vein, we have handcrafted and recent estate pieces, including money clips, key chain knives, belt buckles and gold and silver bracelets.
A collection of key chain folding knives from Santa Fe Stoneworks (from $65 to $75 each)
A selection of money clips, both new hand crafted and vintage (from $22)
One of our bracelets for men. This one is 14k gold with a nugget link design ($2250)
You can view most of the above pieces and more on our online antique shopping site: Vintages on Trocadero.

Pearl: June's Birthstone

It has been said that pearls are the moon to the diamond's sun. Strings of pearls have graced the necks and garments of kings and queens for centuries. This gem is not produced by the earth, but grown in the shells of simple sea creatures ... oysters and mussels. Natural sea oyster pearls are a rare commodity today. In the 1890s, Kokichi Mikimoto started commercial production of a cultured pearl, made by introducing a small mother-of-pearl bead into a farmed oyster to speed the production of a larger and more symmetrical pearl. Today, 90% of the sea oyster pearls are of the cultured variety.

But the traditional sea oyster pearl is not the only variety of pearl seen in fashion and jewelry, especially in the 20th century. Freshwater pearls and pearls from other mollusks abound. Baroque and misshapen, long and craggy, half pearls, blister pearls and black pearls have graced the jewelry of fashionistas and bargain shoppers alike.

The site, Beadopedia has a fine discussion (with photos) of many of the varieties of pearls seen today. For more information and history about pearls, visit the American Museum of Natural History site.

Pearls are a featured part of the hair decoration of the lady in this 15th century painting, as well as adorning the neck of the Young Woman with a Black Cape, a 17th century portrait by Rembrandt.

Pearls symbolize purity and innocence. They seem to capture the essence of femininity, without restraining individuality. Maybe that is why they have been worn by nearly everyone from queens and princesses, first ladies and little girls, newlyweds and grandmothers.
The perfect pearl necklace is beautiful and simple. Long strings of pearls, short pearl chokers, single or multiple strands of pearls provide variety to fit any personality without giving up the simple beauty of the lustrous gems.
Vintage Cultured Pearl Strands (from $395)
In Victorian times, and into the Edwardian era, there was a trend to use prodigious numbers of seed pearls in jewelry. These tiny pearls were hand strung on horsehair, or later thin threads of silk, onto a mother-of-pearl backing to create jewelry clustered with pearlescent luster and beaded texture. Original pieces are hard to find and somewhat fragile, but they do make a statement!
Victorian Seed Pearl Jewelry
Pearls of various shapes and surface textures bring a whole world of creativity to pearl jewelry for designers and collectors alike. The real winner, of course, are the ladies who love pearls and want variety beyond the traditional string of pearls.
Victorian Pearl Brooches (L: Gold-filled Grapes $85; R: 10k Gold Wishbone $89)
Mary Jo Matsumoto Handbag with Freshwater Pearl Handle (from $175)
Norma Dice Wire Wrapped Peas-in-the-Pod Pendants ($69 to $79 each)
L to R: 14k Gold Keshi Pearl Earrings ($89); 14k Gold Pearl Locket ($395); 14k Gold Cultured Pearl Earrings ($95)
L: 14k Gold Wedding Ring Set with Diamonds and a large Baroque Pearl ($295); R: 14k Gold Ring with Garnets and Seed Pearls ($295)
There are, as you might expect, a plethora of faux pearl jewelry on the market. Some from top designers like Miriam Haskell, Hobe and Trifari are gorgeous in their own right. Mamie Eisenhower was famously in love with her Trifari pearls. Others are done so well that they almost defy distinction from the real thing. But when it comes to birthstones, only true pearls will suffice.

Alexandrite and Moonstone: June's Other Birthstones

While pearl is the primary birthstone of June,  moonstone is also included as one of the contemporary birthstones for June, while alexandrite is June's traditional birthstone.

Moonstones are a member of the feldspar family of stones. It has a beautiful iridescence and occasionally displays a star effect.  Moonstone was a popular stone in late-Victorian jewelry and again in the Art & Crafts jewelry. Today's studio jewelers use moonstone in many of their modernistic pieces because of its lovely and lively opalescence.

Alexandrite is a classical stone, discovered in Russia around 1830. These early Russian stones are the most prized because they have a strong color change from grass green in daylight to a rich red in artificial light. While alexandrites from other locations  display this same color change phenomena, they do not swing across the color spectrum as much as the Russian specimens do.
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