Monday, November 28, 2011

24 Gifts of Christmas: A Vintages' Holiday Gift Guide

Starting on Dec 1st, Vintages presents the 24 Gifts of Christmas -- a Holiday Gift Guide with a gift idea every day until Christmas. Follow the gift guide here on this site, Vintages: Featured Product. Check daily to find everything you need to help you select the perfect gift for the Holidays -- photos, links to online resources and pricing information.
REMEMBER: For items purchased in Vintages we can wrap your gift for you and arrange for shipping as well. We have gift certificates and Christmas cards, too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Set an Elegant Table with Silver Tableware

Beautiful table setting from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
With big family holidays around the corner, it's time to think about setting a beautiful and festive table for your guests. Nothing makes a table more elegant than fine china and silver tableware. There is a brilliance added to the dining experience as the light dances off the silver, playing with the porcelain pieces and the floral centerpiece. Antique silver adds a sense of place and time to the gathering. Silver is a room's jewelry, so do not relegate your silver to storage boxes or safe deposit vaults. Dress up your room and add sparkle to your table. There are a lot of old Victorian silver items whose use is archaic or even forgotten. So try something different and use these items to add to the decor, brighten up the mantel, add a finishing touch to the table or use them in a novel way.
Table for two from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
To some, silver is so old school, so stuffy, so hard to clean. But ... if you use your silver, it will require less polishing ... if you decorate with it, it becomes part of you and your home ... and old school will become new again.
This treasure case with hundreds of pieces of silver is pictured in Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table.
Victorians seemed to have a utensil for every task. At the table, it would seem that the flatware extended almost beyond the reach of the diner. So let's not go that far. An elegant dinner can get by with five to eight pieces, depending on how many courses are served. A lunch need only have a few and an informal buffet or barbeque can be as simple as a knife, fork and spoon wrapped in a napkin.
Buffet table from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
Early silver is heavier than current offerings. The price of silver has had a lot to do with that. Even patterns that have been produced for over a century have thinned down. That's one reason that old silver is so wonderful. It has that feeling of weight ... sturdy and elegant at the same time. Old silver also has that wonderful patina. That silvery gray color that lingers after years of use, holding on to tarnish in crevasses and enhancing the glorious design motifs.
Intricate bird and flowers motif on a citrus spoon. Note the poppy flower in the pointed bowl. This hand wrought piece is from the late-1800s. ($45)
Here are couple of the patterns we have at Vintages. These are sterling silver and as such are expensive. However, you can also find some wonderful silver plated flatware and serving pieces that do not break the bank.

This first pattern is Rose Point by Wallace Silversmiths. The lacy, pierced design was introduced in 1934 and is still available today, but the old pieces are so much more glorious than the new, shiny ones.

Rose Point pattern sterling silver service for 6 or 12 ($1250 for service for 6)
The next pattern is Wild Rose by International Silver Company. Introduced in 1948, this pattern is also still available as a "made to order" item from the maker. We have a couple of services for six available and also a myriad of serving pieces, some with marvelous shell shaped bowls.

Wild Rose pattern sterling silver service for 6 or 12 ($1950 for 42 pieces; $2150 for 48 pieces)
Beautiful shell bowl on Wild Rose serving spoons
This luncheon set is silver plate from Germany. It sports a delicately simple design which does not overwhelm the smaller size of the flatware.
18 piece lunch set • German silver plate ($120 for the set)
Vintage silver plate serving pieces make a lovely gift as well as a nice statement on your table.
Silver plate serving forks for salads or cold meat (most $12-24 each)
Silver plate gravy spoons and ladles (most $15-24 each)
A variety of silver plate serving pieces (most $12-24 each)
A variety of small serving pieces (most $9-24 each)
Sugar spoons and miscellaneous small spoons (most $9-24 each)
Many of the flatware patterns have gloriously decorated handles. There are also some very specific pieces designed for tasks such as picking up berries, pickles or bonbons. Even lemons had their own serving fork.
Clockwise from top left: Shreve sterling silver bonbon spoon ($95); Blackington sterling silver pickle fork ($39); Tiffany sterling silver strawberry fork ($195); Sterling silver hollow handled lemon fork ($38)
Clockwise from top left: Whiting 2-pc sterling silver salad serving set ($395); Tiffany 2-pc sterling silver fish serving set ($2200); Continental silver grape shears ($250); Wallace Wild Rose 2-pc sterling silver carving set ($95)
You should not feel that matching everything is a requirement. Maybe each guest could have a different pattern at their place. Special knives or forks with ivory or hollow handles add interest to the setting. Serving pieces can be wonderful focal points with elaborate designs setting off a simpler array of place settings.
Clockwise from top left: Art nouveau pattern on Gorham hollow handled dinner knives sterling silver ($395 for 11 pieces); Frank Whiting sterling silver Palm pattern teaspoons ($125 set of 5); Georg Jensen sterling silver Acorn pattern lunch knife ($130); Alvin Silver Co. sterling silver Orange Blossom pattern teaspoons ($249 set of 6)
There are more areas than flatware to consider for setting an elegant table. Ring in the dinner with a silver bell. Light the table or buffet with silver candlesticks. Serve the beverage from a crystal decanter on a silver tray with a special liquor tag hanging around the neck of the decanter. 
Large Swedish silver plate 2-piece salad set ($98); Mango wood salad bowl (small shown $89.95; large not shown $99.95)
Left: Charles Tomae sterling silver Lily dinner bell ($125) • Right: English sterling silver muffineer or sugar caster Nathan-Hayes Chester 1905 ($395)
Left: Cartier sterling silver candle holders with etched hurricane chimneys ($295 pair) • Right: Richard M. Woods Art Deco sterling silver candlesticks ($295 pair)
Sterling silver tray ($1195); Decanter (Sold); Bottle tag

Tea and lunch settings can be elegant as well. They don't call it high tea for nothing.
Gorham sterling silver tea set ($2250)
Colorful table from Sheila Chefetz' Antiques for the Table
Any setting, from elegant to simple, from outdoor soirees to buffets, can be spiffed up by the inclusion of silver napkin rings. Many of these are monogrammed ... so? Often the monogram is as elegant as the design. Or maybe you can match names from these napkin rings with you guests.
Sterling silver monogrammed napkin rings ($45 each)
French Art Deco silver napkin rings - Madame & Monsieur ($95 pair)
Sterling silver Art Nouveau hand engraved napkin rings ($45 each)
Early pewter napkin rings ($38 each)
Rogers, Lunt & Bowen sterling silver napkin clip ($65)
We have a lot of our silver available online, but there are many pieces in the shop that have not made it to our shopping site.

Replacements Ltd. has drawn up this list of the most popular (i.e., top selling) silver patterns. It is interesting that several of these were introduced a century ago and still remain at the top of the list today.
To see images and a bit of history about these patterns click here.

Citrine & Golden Topaz: November's Birthstones

November has two birthstones ... the golden honey colored stones citrine and topaz. These stones are often confused because their colors are so close. Also, each of these have sister stones that do not qualify as November birthstones. Citrine is a golden form of quartz, whose counterpart is the purple amethyst. (Amethyst is the February birthstone.) Topaz is a more expensive stone than citrine or amethyst whose primary color is a golden honey yellow. Its blue version is not a natural color, rather produced by heating clear stones to change the color to blue. (Blue topaz is an alternate birthstone for December.)

The Romans were thought to be the first to wear yellow quartz, crafting it into cabochons, highly polished but unfaceted cuts of stone set into jewelry.  Citrine became quite popular during the Romantic Period, when artisans often favored these warm colored gems to enhance gold jewelry. Citrine, like all forms of quartz, was believed to have magical powers and was worn as a talisman against evil thoughts and snake venom.

Topaz is associated with constancy, loyalty, faithfulness and friendship. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all wore topaz for its special powers. During the Middle Ages topaz was thought to heal both physical and mental disorders and prevent death. Today, the golden yellow topaz, also called precious topaz, is considered a warm, beautiful gemstone that stands for fidelity.

Who first comes to this world below
With drear November's fog and snow
Should prize the topaz' amber hue
Emblem of friends and lovers true

The most famous topaz is actually a colorless topaz that was originally thought to be a diamond. It is a 1680 carat stone known as the "Braganza Diamond" and was set in the Portuguese Crown Jewels. Another beautiful topaz is in the Green Vault in Dresden which has one of the world's most important gem collections.

Here at Vintages we have several very nice citrine jewelry items. (We do not have any golden topaz pieces at this time.) Here is a gallery of our citrine jewelry. 
Sterling silver ring with citrine solitaire ($89)

Hand crafted sterling silver ring with citrine ($89)

Large citrine gemstone pendant ($69)

Fantastic rough cut citrine lariat necklace with keshi pearls and Australian rock opals ($195)

Brilliant 14K gold pendant with citrine, peridot, garnets and amethysts ($95)
While not a piece of jewelry, this distinctive Victorian citrine topped, gold-filled mechanical pencil is never-the-less a beautiful item.
Victorian era (c1870) gold-filled telescoping mechanical pencil with a citrine jewel embedded in the top ($79)

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