More than Black and White

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and Enameled Things

Imagine, if you can, what you will look like when you’re 200 years old…  Will you be dust and ashes, scattered to the wind?  Or perhaps there’ll be nothing left but a hollow shape, a shell of your former self.  In any case, it’s certain that you won’t look as good as this stunning Swiss Enamel bangle.

Admit it, no matter how many trips to the gym you make, or how well you take care of yourself – as the years pass, time takes a toll.  Nothing could be farther from the truth in regard to this bracelet.  It’s in near perfect condition…  almost identical to the day it was made, nearly two centuries ago. 

The center section, a scalloped oval of buttery yellow gold was hand crafted in classic repousse style (a technique in which metal is hammered from behind in order to create shape and form).  Then this remarkably lightweight shell was painstakingly enameled from edge to edge in black and white patterns of flowers, leaves, and scrolls.  It’s a rare and beautiful thing, and in infinitely better condition than I will be in 150 years!

 

Here are two more examples of Swiss Enamel jewelry.  The brooch and earring suite is a more typical subject matter for the early 19th century.  Often, these elaborate enamel plaques featured grand landscapes paired with peasants garbed in regional attire.  More often than not, these scenic examples were sold as souvineers to wealthy travelers.  Rich black and white enamel patterns create a framework for these lovely maidens. 

If you look closely at the bottom of the earrings in the second photo, you’ll notice a quite remarkable thing.  Each one is accentuated by a tiny oval hair receiver.  These are a first for me – I’ve never seen an earring with a hair locket!  Even more unusual is that it’s on the front of the earring rather than the back.  It’s interesting to note that both pairs of earrings shown above are referred to as “day to night” earrings – meaning that the bottom section is removable.  You can wear the tops alone for a casual daytime look or add the dramatic bottom portion for more formal evening attire.

Last but not least is this stunning polychromatic enameled link bracelet.  It features a rare combination of champlevé  and basse-taille enamel.  These two old world techniques combine in an explosion of multicolored design.  From the alternating black and white floral links to the bright orange, red, green, and blue enameled plaques between…  it’s a veritable feast for the eyes.  These are true treasures; too good to miss.  And as always, you can go to a museum and look or you can come to us and touch. 

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Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Shelly Isacco

Windows to the Soul

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling, and Lover’s Things

Called a lover’s eye, or an eye miniature, these are some of the rarest and highly collectible pieces of antique jewelry. Just as their name states, they are tiny watercolor paintings (most often done on ivory) of an eye… and nothing else.  The painting is usually surrounded by a decorative frame and covered with a piece of protective glass.  You may be wondering, “Why just an eye?”

Sources say that the eye belonged to a loved one, usually a forbidden love.  It was believed that if the painting only featured an eye, it would be nearly impossible to identify who is depicted.  Because in the case of a clandestine affair, anonymity is everything.  Only the person wearing the piece would know the secret identity.  Very romantic…

Most lover’s eyes were made from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s.  Experts believe that fewer than 1000 of them are still in existence.  Here at Joden, we have three.  The one pictured above has already been purchased by a private collector, these two are available now. 

 

Near the end of the 1800’s, Queen Victoria revived the lover’s eye.  However, Victoria had them created of all of her loved ones:  her children, family, and friends.  Often, they became mourning jewelry, as many of them featured a hair receiver on the back.  The use of pearls often symbolized tears.  What a beautiful treasure!

 

Come to Joden to see these incredible love tokens,  and remember…

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

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Shelly Isacco

In Loving Memory

Joden Girl

Baubles, Bling and Mourning Rings

Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter… 

Duck Face, Kissy Face, Smize, or Squnich…

Millenials are memorializing every detail of their lives, from the most mundane to the downright inappropriate – it’s all there on social media for the world to see.  I’m not averse to it…  I’ve been known to pose for a selfie or two, send out snaps and check in with my girls on Facebook – but some life events deserve more than a quick pic and a hasty status update.  Things like engagements and weddings, or perhaps when a new life begins, and certainly when a life ends. 

They were doing it right two hundred years ago.  When a loved one passed away, the bereavement process often included the creation of a special piece of jewelry; it was called mourning jewelry.  These unique treasures usually included the name of the deceased person as well as their death date.  Many also included a special compartment for a lock of hair.  These small trinkets were handed out at the funeral while more elaborate styles were worn by family members. 

These are just three of the mourning rings we have here at Joden.  Black enamel was a recurring theme in this type of jewelry (as you can see) as were pearls, urns, and flowers.  Each one of these rings is engraved (from left to right)…

  • T.T.J.  14.12.1893
  • M.H.C. Mourant died 6th Oct. 1866
  • W:  Terry OB: 24 Oct: 1809: AE 53

    

The trio of rings on the left are all very similar to each other; the hair receiver on top surrounded by natural pearls (usually signifying the loss of a child).  Only one of them actually contains hair – the other two are still waiting for someone to fill them.  The ring on the right was made in the Georgian period.  The delicate blonde tresses inside have been plaited into a basket-weave pattern completely surrounded by sparkling purple gemstones. 

    

Quite a lot of the mementos made in the 1800’s were brooches and lockets, like the ones shown here.  The two pins in the foreground are exceptional examples of the fine workmanship that mourning jewelry is known for.  The locket in the background is covered in a layer of black enamel with a pearl-centered flower on the front.  As you can see in the photo on the right, the locket appears to have never been used…  the original blue silk is still inside in pristine condition.

I readily admit that when one of my sons is doing something particularly adorable or noteworthy, the first thing I reach for is my cell phone – to capture that smile forever.  Photographs are truly worth a thousand words, and I cherish all of mine.  But I can’t help but feel that if I had a ring on my little finger (with a lock of my loved one’s hair safely cradled inside), it would be incredibly comforting to know that I carried a part of them with me every day.  I’m certain that each time I looked at the ring, I would smile.  And remember. 

Written by Carrie Martin

Photos by Shelly Isacco

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