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 items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Dazzle in December with Sheffield Auction Gallery (and it won’t cost as much as you think!)

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s forthcoming Fine Art Auction on Friday 1st December includes over 200 lots of diamond and gem set jewellery.

Pretty in pink, gorgeous in green, beautiful in blue, there is something to match every outfit.

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

Whether a sumptuous Tanzanite for a December birthday, an engagement or just because, there is something on offer for everyone.

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 future auctions, please contact specialist valuer Sarah Clark by emailing sclark@sheffieldauctiongallery.com or by calling 0114 281 6161.

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.

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

Christmas Tree Pins

Christmas tree pins are exactly as they sound; brooches in the shape of Christmas trees. They have been around since the 1940s but their range and popularity increased during the 1950s as American mothers with sons fighting in the Korean War wore them and sent them as a gesture of Christmas cheer and support.

Christmas tree pins were generally made in the festive colours of red and green although others like the blues and icy whites of a Christmas snow scene were also used. They were beautiful with intricate and often exquisite designs featuring crystal rhinestones, beads and enamelling. They were made by most costume jewellery designers of the time with Eisenberg, Stanley Hagler, Cristobal and Trifari being names to note.

Eisenberg was an American clothing company. Originally pins were made as accessories sold with their dresses but popularity saw they quickly sold in their own right. Eisenberg tended to use white enamel or gilt metal casting with simplistic forms featuring coloured rhinestones. Early pieces are signed with Eisenberg Original or simply Eisenberg, after 1945 they were marked Eisenberg Ice and towards the 1960s many were not signed or marked at all which can make them difficult to date.

Stanley Hagler was one of the most renowned costume jewellery designers of the 20th century, he originally worked for Miriam Gaskell before setting up his own business in 1950. Stanley Hagler pins are often considered some of the most intricate and innovative of the time, he was famous particularly for his new techniques using hand blown glass; glass beads feature heavily in his designs.

Christmas tree pins are still made today and there is a strong collectors market for both vintage and modern examples.

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.)

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.

Costume Jewellery

Costume jewellery has been around for many years and was originally designed to be a type of cheap, disposable jewellery.  They were not precious heirloom pieces to be handed down through generations but more an embellishment to a new outfit that could easily be replaced as current fashions changed.  The jewellery was made of inexpensive materials; plated metals and imitation or semi-precious gems.  However, as the trends for costume jewellery increased, it did in fact become an art form of its own with highly skilled, stylish and innovative designs for a fraction of the cost of fine jewellery.

Costume Jewellery Brooch
Costume Jewellery Brooch

Costume jewellery comes in many different settings.  The ‘invisible’ setting is considered the most sophisticated and was developed by the fine jeweller Alfred Philippe who originally worked for the highly prestigious Van Cleef and Arpels before moving to Trifari, a leading costume jewellery company in New York.  The small faux stones are set so closely together than they give the appearance of one large, carved stone providing excellent imitations of precious jewellery.

‘Poured glass’ was another innovative method used; crushed glass was heated and then poured into moulds, giving dramatic results, popular with the likes of Chanel.  The ancient technique of enamelling was also put to good use in costume jewellery, with powdered coloured glass or clear glass with pigments added being fired onto a metal surface, although this did create very fragile items.  The cheapest method of all was gluing, which generally produced the most affordable costume jewellery available.

Costume jewellery can always be found in our Antiques  and  Collectables auctions, exciting lots delicately mixed between our precious stones. In auctions all over the land the interest, excitement and consequently demand for “costume” is on the increase.

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