Paste Jewellery

Paste Jewellery, or ‘false diamonds’ as it was sometimes known, came about due to the experiments of an Englishman, George Ravenscroft, back in the 17th century. He was frustrated by the nature of glass used in jewellery, which being so soft was easily worn down. He began experimenting with new compounds of flint, potash and lead oxide and produced ‘lead glass’, a material that was hard enough to cut and polish like a gemstone.

However, it was not Ravenscroft who gets the credit for popularity of paste jewellery, that honour lies with George Frederic Strass, a Parisian jeweller in the 18th century. Strass played with the concept of lead crystal further still until he could imitate diamonds which when mounted in silver settings could rival the genuine.

Strass’ jewellery took the form of its original counterparts with pastes set in silver or silver gilt, usually backed with tinfoil to increase sparkle and many were decorated with strips of gold or gold beading for an extra touch of glitter.

Although paste Jewellery continued to be popular up until the 1930s, it became somewhat ‘cheap and cheerful’ and lacked the beauty and finish of the 18th century examples.

Antique paste jewellery is popular in the salerooms when it is embraced for what it is; elegant, beautiful jewellery in its own right, not merely a copy of real diamonds. It is marvellous to handle, versatile and enriching to wear and a perfect expression of the period in which it was constructed.

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

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 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

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

Rings

I am in the fortunate position to be happily married to someone who does not crave her fingers jewelled with rings. Now I love a jewelled finger, but financially the bare finger does win by more than a short head. We must all agree however that the history of the ring a fascinating one.

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 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

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.

Reuge Sainte Croix

The time is 7.30pm, the day is Friday and it is late November. Outside it is dark and cold and a lady waits in the softly lit hallway of her late Art Deco home. Her husband will bring the car to the door. He always brings the car to the door on special nights and tonight is very special, the companies biggest ever Christmas ball.

She carefully takes her Reuge Sainte Croix musical compact/cigarette case from her handbag and checks her lipstick one last time. Oh how she loves her Reuge Sainte Croix. There is a possibility that it is that very same compact which we have for sale in our Antiques and Fine Art auction at the end of September. There is also, I have to say, a possibility that it is not. Either way, I bet it could tell us a wonderful tale.

Sainte Croix is situated in the Jura mountains in Switzerland near the border with France. It was in that beautiful location in the 1860’s that Charles Reuge established his first shop, selling musical pocket watches. He developed a tiny musical cylinder which could be incorporated into a watch movement.

Charles’ son, Albert, further developed the business by opening a small musical box workshop. It was however Charles’ grandson Guido Reuge who successfully guided the company through the middle years of the twentieth century, putting musical movements into all sorts of wonderful things. He was at the helm when our lovely little compact rolled out of Sainte Croix and into the arms of a lucky lady.

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

Wristwatches

This weekend has dawned sunny and our grass is long and our weeds are numerous. My wife is busy with a black bag, fork and kneeling mat, but sadly I have to wait as all my years of grass cutting experience tell me the grass is too wet to cut. As I sit with my coffee soaking the rare and wonderful sun’s rays and watching them dry the long green blades that constitute our lawn, my mind turns to time and from time to that great teller of time, the wristwatch.

Cartier made the first wristwatch in 1904 for the aviator Alberto Dumont. However, it was during the First World War that the wrist watch was first recognised as a more convenient method for soldiers to tell the time than by trying to consult a pocket watch on a chain. It was not surprising then that many small fob watches were converted to wrist watches after the war by having strap fittings attached to them.

During the 1920’s the Swiss led the way in being able to produce wrist watches in every quality in number large enough to satisfy public demand. In the 1930’s Rolex led the way by producing one
of the first fully automatic and waterproof watches.

The early watches were usually of circular form. During the years between the World Wars, following the fashions of the time, different styles were introduced that made use of clean and bold numerals in square, rectangular, oval and octagonal cases.

Today collectors are mostly interested in the classic designs of the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s, while also recognising the merits of the more recent years. Value is determined by many factors including condition, maker, model, style and mechanism.

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

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.

Buttons

Buttons have always been used for fastening and decoration. They have been discovered in Egyptian tombs and over 15,000 have been found on a Court costume belonging to Henry VIII. However button making took on a new dimension in the 18th century with Dandies sporting ornamental buttons up to 4cm in diameter and handmade buttons produced in anything even fine porcelain.

The 19th century saw the growth of mechanisation and Birmingham became the centre of the industry and exported buttons all over the globe. Metal buttons were popular for uniforms and
servants’ liveries while better buttons like silver and enamelled examples were enjoyed by the upper classes. These better buttons were often detachable for laundry purposes and some came
in handsome cases.

Victorian and Edwardian fashions stimulated button demand leading to special examples being made for boots, gloves and even underwear. Queen Victoria’s grief at the death of her beloved
Albert stimulated the demand for mourning dress and black buttons.

The development of colourful plastic buttons happened in the 20th century.Those produced were often large with strong colours and geometric shapes common in Art Deco design. Sadly for the
button producers the introduction of the zip and other boring but effective fasteners saw a decline in the demand for the button. Hold this space though as I am reliably informed by the large and
vocal female side of my family that once again the button is the height of fashion. What better time to start a collection.

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