Enigmatologist Ecstasy

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and Hard Stone Things


Pietra Dura – these Italian words mean “hard stone”…  and that is precisely what these beauties are.  Crafted in the late 1800’s with a matte black background and inlaid with elaborate interlocking pieces of semi precious stones, each one of these brooches is a masterpiece.  

They are miniature puzzles, with precisely cut slices of agate, lapis lazuli, jasper, and chalcedony artfully arranged to create budding and fully bloomed floral majesty.  Artisans hand-cut and polished every single piece of stone to align perfectly with the next.  This decorative art form originated in Rome in the 1600’s but didn’t realize it’s full glory until two centuries later in Florence.  

Many Pietra Dura pieces were sold as souvenirs once travel and touristy become popular at the end of the Victorian era.  Whether worn on a black velvet ribbon or pinned to a high-necked collar, women were crazy for these mosaic gems.  Romantic details like twisted rope borders and seed pearl trim were added to the golden frames to enhance their appeal.

A delicate pattern of tiny three-dimensional leaves and coiled wire stems encircle the border of this demi-parure.  It sits on a luxurious bed of rich red velvet, violet silk, and burnt orange leather  – the principle ingredients of the original fitted case.  This suite is comprised of a large brooch and a pair of dangle earrings.  Pink, blue, and white blossoms burst from the black marble plaques.  It’s truly remarkable and utterly feminine in the best possible way.  

You don’t have to go to Italy to see these charmers.  You simply must come to Joden and discover this historical art form for yourself.  

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Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Dana Jerpe

Sign of The Times

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and Political Things

On this day – November 4th – in the year 1842, Mary Anne Todd said “I Do” to a young lawyer with political aspirations from Hardin County, Kentucky.  His name was Abraham Lincoln.  He would go on to be the first Republican President, and is credited with steering The United States through The Civil War, the most tumultuous time in the history of our country.

In 1861, upon winning the Presidential election, and in anticipation of the Inaugural Ball, President Lincoln commissioned a three piece seed pearl suite for his wife to wear to the ball.  The delicate demi-parure (pictured below) was created by Tiffany & Co.

mary-todd-lincoln-in-pearl-demi-parure     mary-todd-lincon-portrait-2

This style of jewelry had been popular since the early 1800’s – making a crossover between the late Georgian and Early Victorian periods.  These jewels were often lacey in appearance, each one constructed from a Mother of Pearl base upon which natural seed pearls were sewn, with either pale horse hair or gut.  Many of these suites had multiple pieces and were sold as bridal gifts.

The bottom shelf of our Victorian case is home to several similar seed pearl creations, including one six-piece set in its original fitted box.  The suite contains one choker, two pair of pierced earrings, two small pins, and one large brooch.


Each one was made in the manner detailed above with silver clasps, pin stems, and earring backs.  Each tiny pearl (measuring less than one millimeter each) has been painstakingly sewn into floral and leaf patterns.  The red leather case was specially crafted for these pieces and is marked inside the lid with a tiny crown and the following words:

The London Bullion Co, Ltd.


33 Haymarket

London S.W.1


Being nearly 200 years old, it is in near perfect condition.  It’s easy to see why our motto holds true…

“You can go to a museum and look, or you can come to us and touch.”

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos courtesy of internetstones.com and Carla Leight

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