Costume Jewellery

I’ve always been a cup half full sort of chap. Occasionally during my many years on this planet, my cup may have dribbled just below it’s half way point, but usually it can be found languishing between halfway and full. This week however it is overflowing. Easter is here, summertime is here, a hot spell is round the corner, half the adults in the country have been vaccinated and very soon we will be able to socialise once again. Let’s dress up and have some fun, everyone put on your costume jewellery.

Costume jewellery made from non precious materials is often more evocative of its age than precious jewels. Worn since antiquity when the Romans excelled at glass imitation gemstones, this “secondary” jewellery exhibits impeccable craftsmanship and clever use of strong period style at relatively low cost. Costume jewellery sold now usually dates from the late 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and is by and large British or European.

Jewellery set with cut and polished lead glass in imitation of gemstones was first created in France in the 1730s by the jeweller Georges Frederic Stress. This paste jewellery was often cut and backed with foil to give colour and depth and then set in silver in dish like coilet settings. These jewels were popular in France and Britain and in Spain they were even worn in court.

Paste jewellery is very collectable and reasonably priced, although Georgian paste is considerably more valuable than the mid to late Victorian examples and will always realise higher prices, especially the earrings.

Pinchbeck, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, was invented around 1720 by the English watchmaker, Christopher Pinchbeck, as a substitute for gold. It was the perfect partner for paste, as it could be intricately chased, engraved and coloured just like fashionable gold work. Popular designs included wide mesh bracelets, muff chains and hair ornaments. Other imitations exist but genuine Pinchbeck is characterised by its rich burnished colour and matt surface.

Later 19th century gilt metal, often erroneously called Pinchbeck, was ideal for less expensive versions of fashionably extravagant jewellery, lockets, bracelets and brooches.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering in auction, or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website.

Rings

“Popped the question” is a strange expression, but one in very common use. It is many years since I popped my question and because of my devilish good looks, debonair persona and ownership of a mini van, the answer was always going to be yes. My future father-in-law’s answer was never quite so certain though as he never really liked my mini van. I gave the future Mrs Dowse my great grandmother’s engagement ring, which she treasures, but it means therefore that with the exception of her wedding ring I have never actually bought a ring for my wife.

Rings have been worn since ancient Egyptian times. Signet rings engraved with a personal seal are associated with power and status, while plain gold wedding rings are tokens of betrothal. Wedding rings have been given or exchanged since Roman times and from the 16th century it has been customary to use a plain gold band.

Before the discovery of large deposits of gold in the USA in the 1840s and diamonds in South Africa in the 1870s, jewellery that was no longer fashionable was often dismantled, melted and the stones refashioned to follow changing tastes. This makes rings before 1800 reasonably rare.

In the early 19th century half hoop and cluster rings were introduced and they remained fashionable throughout the century. Snakes, symbolising wisdom and eternity, were a particularly common motif in the mid 19th century, especially after Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with an emerald set snake engagement ring in 1839. Serpent rings consist of one, two, or three bands with single or double serpent heads, often set with diamond or ruby eyes.

New patterns introduced in the 1890s reflected the late Victorian and Edwardian revival of interest in 18th century court styles and jewellery of this period is characterised by the use of delicate settings.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering in auction, or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website.

Make Your Valentine Sparkle!

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s forthcoming Auction of Antique, Vintage & Modern, Fine & Costume Jewellery on Thursday 25th January includes a large selection of diamond and gem set rings.

With estimates ranging from as little as £50 there is something to suit every budget.

An engagement, anniversary, special gift or just because, there is something on offer for everyone to suit every taste – antique, vintage or modern.

Antique, Vintage & Modern, Fine & Costume Jewellery Auction
Thursday 25th January at 2.30pm

On view – Wednesday 24th January 9am-4:45pm and Sale day from 8:30am

Sheffield Auction Gallery, Windsor Road, Heeley, Sheffield S8 8UB

For further information or to consign entries in to future auctions, please contact specialist valuer Sarah Clark or by calling 0114 281 6161 or by visiting our website.

Say Everything Without Saying A Word

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s forthcoming Fine Art Auction on Friday 1st December includes a sumptuous selection of single and multi-stone diamond rings.

A Christmas engagement, special gift or just because, there is something to suit every taste – antique, vintage or modern.

Antique & Fine Art Auction including Silver, Jewellery & Watches and Fine Wines Friday 1st December at 10am. Viewing – Thursday 30th November 9am-4.45pm and Saleday from 8.30am.

For further information or to consign entries in to this sale, please contact specialist valuer Sarah Clark by emailing sclark@sheffieldauctiongallery.com or by calling 0114 281 6161.

Popping the question?

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s Spring Fine Jewellery, Silver & Watches Auction On Thursday 4th May Includes Over 50 Single Lots Of Diamond & Gem Set Rings.

Something For Every Budget, Whether Antique, Vintage, Modern Or New – At A Fraction Of The High Street Cost.

Although The Current Trend For Antique & Vintage Pieces (Enhanced By Their Character & Romantic History) Are Highly Sought After, When Buying At Auction You Get More For Your Money With A Larger, More Attractive Choice That Will Hold Their Value Better, Without Breaking The Bank.

A small selection of Diamond Rings going under the hammer at Sheffield Auction Gallery
A small selection of Diamond Rings going under the hammer at Sheffield Auction Gallery

Diamonds Have Always Been The Stone Of Choice For Many Brides-To-Be, However The Auction Also Includes Coloured Gemstones, Together With Earrings, Brooches, Bracelets & Necklaces – All Perfect For That Special Gift.

All Items Are Available To View In Person The Day Before The Sale, With Staff On Hand To Advise On Any Lot & Talk You Through The Buying Process.

For All Enquiries Please Contact Specialist Valuer Sarah Clark On 0114 281 6161
Or Email: sclark@sheffieldauctiongallery.com

Viewing Times:
Wednesday 3rd May, 10am-4.45pm & Thursday 4th May, 8.30am-10am (Sale Starts at 10am)
Sheffield Auction Gallery, Windsor Road, Heeley, Sheffield S8 8UB.

Lea Stein

Lea Stein was a French Paris-based artist born in 1931 who become famous for her costume jewellery fashioned out of rhodoid, a form of cellulose acetate, typically the type used to make frames for spectacles. She began her own design company in 1957 but it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that she experimented with rhodoid and in 1965 started making buttons. By the end of the 1960s she had branched out from buttons to brooches and further improved her technique, with the help of her husband, chemist Fernand Steinberger. He invented a lamination process involving very thin sheets of rhodoid that enabled her to layer to dramatic effect. This method gave wonderful texture, colour and pattern to her pieces.

The subject and designs of her pieces include most commonly animals, particularly cats and people both famous and stylised. Due to the process taken to create them, each piece is completely original, no two are the same and all her work is signed in the same way; on the pin backing “Lea Stein – Paris”. Stein’s work is
categorised as either vintage (1969-1981) or modern (1988-). The company suffered from competition abroad, closing in 1981. Stein began designing again in 1988 as well as recreating some of her vintage collection. The Art Deco look of many of her designs has repeatedly lead to them being mistakenly dated in the 1920s.

Popular vintage pieces include Fox, Rhino, Felix and Ballerina. Key modern designs include ‘Buba’ (an owl), Goupil (a fox’s head) as well as Penguin, Tortoise and the cat, Sacha. It can be incredibly difficult to tell vintage and modern pieces apart.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Georg Jenson

Georg Jenson (1866 – 1935) was a silversmith. He opened his own studio in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1904 and is widely considered one of the most important silversmiths of the 20th century. Born in 1866, he began life as a sculptor before establishing his own company producing silverware. His small workshop found fame after Jenson exhibited his work at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen in late 1904. He specialised in jewellery, flatware and hollowware, concentrating on simple and elegant designs.

Georg Jensen; a Hallmarked Silver Bracelet of double tulip design, stamped 100B
Georg Jensen; a Hallmarked Silver Bracelet of double tulip design, stamped 100B

Jenson’s silverware was governed by the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement; preferring handmade items using traditional methods over mass produced inferior products with a perfect balance between functionality and beauty. His designs, and those of the designers he employed to work alongside him such as Henning Koppel, Johan Rohde and Sigvard Bernodotte, were in the Art Nouveau style, with inspiration from the natural world particularly flowers and grapes. They used hand-hammered techniques to finish, drawing attention to the quality of the silver with minimal decoration and simple, clean and often rounded shapes.

Many different hallmarks are found on Jenson wares as they changed over time, which makes pieces much easier to date. Many designers also had their own hallmarks alongside the Company’s. One of Jensen’s greatest assets was the quality of his designers. He hired designers with values and principles similar to himself and nurtured their talents, giving them an extraordinary amount of freedom to create and design with outstanding results.

The Georg Jenson Company is still producing today; a hugely successful venture still working by the same principles and design ideas of Jenson himself.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Peridot Stones

August is nearly here and if it will soon be your birthday, whether you know it or not, Peridot is your birthstone.

Luxuriously lime green in colour – although not as highly regarded as a ruby or a sapphire, it is one of very few gemstones that exists in only one colour. The depth of green depends on the content level of iron and the shades of green can vary from a light yellowish green to a dark brownish green.

A Peridot Pendant
A Peridot Pendant

Peridot has been used in jewellery and adornments for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest gemstones.

Egyptians referred to the green jewels as ‘Gems of the Sun’ and the Romans referred to them as ‘Evening Emerald’, because unlike the deep hues of emeralds, peridot stones did not darken in the night and still shimmered under candlelight.

Many exquisite examples of peridot were brought back from around the Mediterranean during the Crusades and used in decorating European cathedrals, where they still remain today.

With the believed healing powers and legend to protect from evil, while bringing happiness and success to the wearer, peridot remains a popular choice as a gemstone within jewellery today.

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Written by Specialist Valuer Sarah Clark, B.A.(Hons.)

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

Specialising in Jewellery, I am very fortunate to see many stunning and exquisite pieces. They can range from something handed down from generation to generation, or a costume piece purchased a few years ago. Fashions and taste play a large part in the open market valuation of jewellery as well as the overall condition.

With the current trend for precious pieces to be set in white gold and platinum, it seems the market for good quality costume jewellery has increased too. Diamante necklaces, earrings and dress rings (with a little mix and match) can look as good as the real thing for a fraction of the cost.

Nevertheless, we all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and ‘that’ special ring has got to be special.

Whether you are looking for a timeless classic or something modern and a little different – auction is the place to go. New, second hand or antique, our Specialist Jewellery auctions offer amazing examples to suit every budget – at significantly reduced prices than the high street equivalent.

An example I have seen of this recently was a very good colour and clarity,  2 carat diamond ring in a local retail environment, priced at over £14,000; something which you would expect to see at auction in the region of £3,000 to £4,000 (plus 21% buyers premium), there are real savings to be had!

Quality New & Modern Secondhand Diamond Set Rings
Quality New & Modern Secondhand Diamond Set Rings

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

Ashford Marble

During the 19th Century the marble works at Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire became a tourist attraction as demand soared following the outstanding success of Ashford Marble at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The Royal household exhibited three exceptional inlaid black marble tables made at the workshops of T. Woodruff, Bakewell – which it was said even rivalled the work of Italian Masters.

Following Prince Albert’s death in 1861, Queen Victoria went into mourning which resulted in the fashion and taste for black clothing and adornments. This popularised Whitby Jet Jewellery and Ashford Marble. However, Queen Victoria was long familiar with Ashford Marble.

Having stayed at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, with its marble interiors and massive marble doorways, this inspired a visit to the Ashford Marble Works in 1832, where a number of purchases were made. Even earlier than this, Bess of Hardwick used Ashford Marble for the chimney piece in the Great High Presence Chamber, when building Hardwick Hall in 1580.

After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the popularity and demand for black marble began to diminish and sadly, with the introduction of cheaper substitutes (painted designs on treated slate) the industry fell in to terminal decline, and closed in 1905.

Today Ashford Marble jewellery and ornaments are widely collected, with exquisite examples being highly sought after. The dramatic beauty of the polished black surface with decoratively inlaid designs, inspired by the Florentine pietra dura and Italianate mosaics of a time gone by.

A suite of Ashford Marble jewellery from the Buxton Museum & Art Gallery collection
A suite of Ashford Marble jewellery from the Buxton Museum & Art Gallery collection

 

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.