When Did Cats Become So Fashionable? Our Figural Favourites ~ Fetch Feline Fads

From tigers and leopards – to kittens and house cats, the mid century cat revival kept them coming back – in jewellery, belts, scarves, and clothing. The sixties was big on leopard statement pieces, such as the necklace and pins shown below, featuring pave crystals and stylistic poses.

Many bold fashionistas donned leopard print pantsuits and coats, often paired with a matching leopard print hat, bright bakelite bangles and rhinestone studded cat eye glasses. The look would be polished off, and fully attention grabbing – with a heads up narrow eyed nonchalance, sporting long scarlet nails, black winged eyeliner, and crimson lipstick. What mixed messages they give!

The figural creations of cats and the love of their imagery, has depicted them sauntering down the runway on the latest super model. The innate huntress, her grace and stealth, with an aloof independence – and soon, she makes us grateful to be noticed by her! Or the big cat might be snuggled front and centre on a coveted designer sweater. It just goes to show how popular the affection for cats can be.

From the scaredy cats to the scary cats – we seek ways to coexist. By incorporating them into fashion statement pieces, from the wildest cat in the jungle, to the sweetest little ball of fluff – they all seem to have at least nine lives!

 

Made In France ~ Antique Translucent Cobalt Blue Lamp Work Necklace Set With Visible Rods

Once you start examining antique and vintage beads more closely, it becomes evident that some of them are individually hand made – and are really quite spectacular. Historically, due to the small size of beads, and the fact they are non perishable – they quickly became an ideal product for barter along the various trade routes.

Since the beginning of time – beads have made their way around the world to be deposited on beaches, in attic trunks, old jewellery boxes, thrifts stores and flea markets. Like old buttons – some of the creations are obsolete and thus coveted all the more. The best of what has made its way to North America from Europe and Asia – are now treasure troves among collectors and designers.

The distinguishing features between African, Asian and European antique beads are obvious in some cases, but less distinguishable in others. The rare lamp work necklace featured in today’s post is exceptional in colour, gradation and symmetry. It would take considerable heat and finesse to make the beads so even, uniformly graduated, and smooth. The lighter coloured rods used to make the beads are visible inside each bead. Each one is joined with petal-like metal accents with a finely dispersed patina. The clasp is a unique cylindrical screw, with a small floral motif. Made In France is imprinted on one end. The bracelet appears to have had the clasp replaced at some point with a more contemporary sterling silver clasp.

Although one can assume these beads were made in Europe, I wondered if they possibly came from Czechoslovakia. But after doing some more research, and knowing this set was Made in France – I concluded the beads were probably made in France as well. Especially so, since each bead is joined with metal to the adjacent one, so the necklace is a unit as opposed to being a string of beads.

France and Italy have renowned historical and traditional lamp work techniques and artistry surrounding glass bead making that can be traced back many centuries. Master craftspeople in family owned businesses, and partnerships of the seventeen and eighteen hundreds – knew the techniques involved in this sophisticated artistry, and kept them as carefully guarded secrets.

The necklace featured in this post is somewhat difficult to date. It looks like something that would have been very fashionable in the thirties. However, the visibility and lighter colour of the glass rods inside each bead – indicates it might be earlier than the thirties. Historically, as lamp working techniques developed, the artisan had the option to use coloured glass rods. In this case it is unknown whether the whitish rods inside were an intentional element of the design, or if it was all that was available at the time.

The light is distributed so evenly in this beautiful colour of blue – it draws you into its depth. This extraordinary vignette of translucent gradient lamp work beads ~ showcases an ethereal embodiment of icy cool blue light.

Lamp Work Necklace & Bracelet Set Made in France c 1930s

Bracelet

 

Ivory & Certain Types Of Fur Are Basically Banned From All Markets

For a long time, antique and vintage ivory and furs were in a different category from the new ones. It was generally considered okay and ethical to buy and sell these items if they were classified vintage or antique. I have never had much attraction to buying vintage fur, with the exception of some mink hats and headbands, and a few items with genuine fur collars. The list of banished furs includes fur from all big cats, all primate fur, and all types of bear fur. Sealskin products cannot be exported to the USA, European Union, Mexico, or Taiwan. Canada is one of the few countries that permits the sale of sealskin items.

Ivory has become a taboo product due to the poaching, endangered elephants, and the skill artisans have to make it look antique. Although it is not illegal to own inherited or antique ivory, it can no longer be exported or sold. Some of these laws are fairly recent and expanding to include other countries. The only way to identify the age of the ivory is through carbon dating. Recently an antique dealer in Toronto was fined and charged for having carved elephant tusks for sale. As it turned out, they were able to identify the age of the tusks, which placed them in the seventies when poaching was a real problem.

Over the years, I have picked up some ivory necklaces and bracelets but cannot be sure how old the pieces are. It seems the best thing is to donate them to a museum or educational institute. Different types of ivory can be identified by the pattern of the schreger lines. The location the ivory came from can also be identified because they can determine the diets of the elephants by the tusks.

One of the many sad things about the poaching, is that of all the elephants that die naturally, the ivory cannot be used because of the illegal activity associated with it. It’s too bad the elephants were not protected from poachers in the first place. There should have been a method of making sure all tusks were matched to the death of the elephant. The product made from the tusks of elephants that died naturally should have been hallmarked as such. It would be a good idea to have a method of marking during the creation of the piece, similar to what they did to help people avoid buying blood diamonds. Ivory is very beautiful, especially since it has often been combined with some of the most exquisite carving known to man.

As far as the example set in Kenya where tons of confiscated ivory was burned – on principle, I disagree with the destruction of artifacts. However, the issues surrounding the endangerment of these beautiful and intelligent creatures, the horrors of poaching, and the difficulty in accurately dating the ivory – makes the bans understandable.

There can be some confusion in terminology surrounding vegetable ivory and what is referred to as “French ivory”. Vegetable ivory is from tagua nuts and can be carved, decorated or dyed. French ivory is a type of celluloid or plastic that looks like ivory. French ivory and vegetable ivory have nothing to do with elephants or endangered species.

Now it’s time to see if any of the feathers on the hats are from endangered birds! I do have one hat with a real bird on it. It is a black hat embellished at the front with a small blackbird – dating it prior to the 1909 ban on such practices. The moral of this story is an anthropomorphic oxymoron. From an animal’s perspective – humans do some very strange things!

 

 

 

The Variety Of Vintage Necklace Clasps ~ Ideal For Short Hair & Updos

Similar to the extra little details that make luxury scarves stand out – beautifully crafted vintage costume jewellery will have interesting, decorative and secure clasps. In some cases the clasp is the most decorative part of the necklace. Often there is a brass hook with an extra trailing of beads or gemstones dangling from the clasp. In the case of multi-strand necklaces – there will be a decorative metal clasp, with the strands attached in rows on each side.

The hook clasps are the most common. I have seen a cylindrical bar clasp on a few bracelets, but the one shown in this post, is the only necklace I have come across that has one. It is a mix of crystal and chalcedony. The following are some examples of vintage necklace clasps on some costume – and some sterling silver necklaces. The first example is a classic vintage Oscar de la Renta very realistic string of pearls with a purple art deco clasp. A good tip to pass on for collectors and vintage enthusiasts – is to check the clasps on a rack of necklaces as a shortcut to finding the authentic vintage ones.

Oscar de La Renta Faux Pearl Necklace With Art Deco Purple & Clear Glass Clasp

Martha Sturdy Clunky 1980’s Necklace With Large Hook Clasp & Signature

Silk Cord Asian Knot Necklace With A Loop & Nephrite Bead

Sterling Silver Square Clasp On A Wood & Amber Three Strand Necklace

Mini Glass Bead Covered Clasp On A Torsade Necklace

Vendome Faceted Crystal Aurora Borealis 1950’s Three Strand Necklace With Fancy Clasp

1950’s Four Strand Necklace With Flowers As Joiners

Chalcedony Powder Blue Necklace With A Unique Sterling Silver Double Hook Snake Clasp

Antique Rock Crystal Necklace Made in Spain

Multi Gemstone Vintage Necklace With A Bar Clasp

Japanese Blown Glass Necklace With Round Beaded Clasp 1950s

Panetta Vintage Necklace With Safety Chain On Clasp

 

Rare & Absolutely Stunning ~ Three Dimensional Carved Rock Crystal Necklace In A Floral Theme

This is one of the most beautifully made necklaces I have ever seen. In most cases a carved rock crystal necklace will have one flower with a couple of leaves. It may have a single faceted (or round orb) as a pendant. Other than the pendants, there are only two carved flower and foliage rock crystal necklaces that I could find on the Internet. One is by Seaman Schepps and is listed as a rock crystal, pearl and diamond silver suite to include a pair of earrings (for $97,632.00). That one depicts alternating foliage (leaves) with pearls, diamond accents, and rock crystal.

The other carved flower rock crystal necklace on 1stdibs is by Russell Trusso (sold). It features a row of five single dimension clear rock crystal flowers at the front of the necklace and is accented with clear crystal leaves. When we hear the term “pools of light” – we think of round rock crystal. The clear smooth orbs look like marbles. They do not string or wire them through the bead. The beads are either encircled in order to be held in place, or as in this example – the clear beads are attached at the tops.

What makes this necklace so outstanding and rare? The fact it is three dimensional, which captures the light like magic. Plus the entire necklace is made of carved and faceted rock crystal, to include every single flower petal. It has five large clear faceted orbs that alternate with three dimensional carved flowers, in delightfully luminescent pastel shades of carved quartz. Because it is all rock – it is fairly heavy and is strung on steel wire. It has smaller faceted quartz beads toward the top, and a round sterling silver clasp. This necklace is quite a masterpiece. It is a design that literally brings rock to life. And with great finesse – enhances the enchanting, light-catching beauty of the gemstones.

Carved & Faceted Rock Crystal & Coloured Quartz

Interplay Of Colours On Carved Flower Petals

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Some Idiosyncratic Necklaces You Will Not Find At The Mall

Openwork Sterling Silver Pendant Necklace With A Blue Bottle Of Smelling Salts Inside

Never Leave Home Without It!

Erica Weiner Miniature Harmonica Necklace

Wood & Brass Monocular Spyglass Necklace

Don’t Get Mugged For A Molar!

Stones Eggs In A Wire Sculpted Bird’s Nest

This One Must have Been Tricky To Make!

Link Necklace With A Ratcheted Hand Cuff Clasp Marked Italy

First Impressions?

It Works!

Trifari & Alfred Philippe Designer History ~ From Cartier & Van Cleef & Arpels

Trifari became one of the world’s most recognizable names in collectible costume jewelery. Italian immigrant Gustavo Trifari founded the company in New York City in 1910. In 1930 Alfred Philippe joined Trifari as the head designer. Prior to joining Trifari, he had been with Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. Phillipe preferred using individually hand set imported Swarovski crystals. Similar to mid-century Ciner and Panetta jewelry – the designers first worked with precious metals and gemstones. When the glamorous era of the thirties caught on – the objective was to make costume jewelry of such a quality as to mimic the real thing.

After the war Trifari developed their own type of base metal called “Trifanium” . During the fifties and sixties the company continued to grow and thrive in the business of ritz and glitz glamour. In 1968 the legendary designer Alfred Philippe retired. Andre Boeuf (also previously from Cartier) became a lead designer. During the seventies notable designers Kenneth Jay Lane, Kunio Matsumoto, Marcells Saltz, and Jean Paris created designs for Trifari.

Trifari remained a family run business until the early sixties. It was sold to Hallmark in the seventies, and then purchased by Chase Capital (Monet Group). By 2000 Trifari was sold to the Liz Claiborne Corporation and moved production overseas. Certain luxury vintage costume jewelry will occasionally be unsigned (such as Chanel, Weiss, Sherman and some unknown early and mid-century master craftsmen and designers). One little known fact to share about Trifari – is that their pieces are always signed. The patent numbers and corresponding dates can be researched on Google.

The following are a few examples of Trifari jewelry in a range of dates prior to 2000.

Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When Organic Matters Are Just Beachy ~ The Popularity Of Seashell Jewelery

Contemporary Artisan Shell Collar Necklace

 

Shell Pin Accented With A Tiny Shell Bug

Baroque & Keshi Pearl Statement Necklace

Large Shell Set In Sterling Silver

Large Shell Set In Sterling Silver – Mexico

Sterling Silver Bracelet Elaborately Decorated With Abalone Shells

Shell Necklace In Shades Of Pink & Coral

Stretch Bracelet Made Of Matching Shells

Raffia & Shell Necklace

Carved Mother Of Pearl Earrings

Abalone Set In Sterling Silver With Decorative Bail

Abalone Set In Sterling Silver Setting

Open Shell Belt Buckle With Gold outlines

Celebrating Canada’s Finest Designers ~ Gustave Sherman ~ A Cut Above & A Shine Beyond ~ A Lifetime

Gustave Sherman of Montreal made costume jewellery from 1947-1981. The company logo was “made to last a lifetime”. He sourced out, and used the highest quality Swarovski crystals, and set very high production standards. The backing on Sherman jewellery is heavily rhodium plated, japanned, or sterling. The stones are brilliant, cut with precision, into narrow marquise stones, with cluster elements, and stunning designs.  Sherman jewellery lasts to this day, and will last much longer, therefore the jewellery was made to last more than one lifetime.

Sherman jewellery has always been recognized as high end costume jewellery, and was sold through luxury retailers and jewellery stores. The jewellery continues to be highly collectible. Certain pieces, in particular full sets, and the colour Siam red, command high prices, and have set off bidding wars on Ebay. Gustave Sherman passed away in 1984. His legacy, and commitment to the highest standards in craftsmanship, has left us with sparkle and shine – to wear and to admire, for many years to come. From the Quiet West collection, the following are some fine examples of the lasting quality in Sherman jewellery.

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Sherman Pink Earrings & Matching Pin

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Sherman Script Signature

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Sherman Earrings With Blue Marquise Cut Stones

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Sherman Signature in Block Letters

 

Gustave Sherman stunning vintage necklace - signed

Gustave Sherman Stunning Vintage Necklace

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Sherman Signature On Necklace

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Sherman Bracelet With Coloured Stones

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Sherman Bracelet With Safety Chain On Clasp

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Sherman Signature On Coloured Bracelet

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Sherman Fabulous Large Rhinestone Pin - Signed

Sherman Fabulous Large Rhinestone Pin

Gutave Sherman Blue Crystal Pin Signed on the Back

Gustave Sherman Blue Crystal Pin

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Ciner ~ Among The Most Glamorous Mid-Century Costume Jewelry

There will always be artisans and master craftsmen who make beautiful jewelry. The biggest difference between today’s costume jewelry makers, and the early mid-century jewelry makers; is that, jewelers like Ciner, before he started making costume jewelry, was a designer and master craftsmen, who made fine jewelry using precious metals and gemstones. He was not just artsy – he knew the trade, and the commitment to task required to make high quality jewelry.

Emanuel Ciner started his jewelry making company in 1892 in New York City. In the thirties and forties, when glamorous costume jewelry became the craze; Ciner, along with several other fine jewelers (such as Panetta and Marcel Boucher), started making jewelry to emulate the real thing. They used designs and production standards on costume jewelry that is equivalent to settings in platinum and gold, replacing diamonds and gemstones with exquisite Austrian Swarovski crystals. The faux pearls were developed in Japan, using a fine nacre-like glaze, set in multiple layers, over glass beads – thus replicating the lustrous sheen of real pearls.

This level of quality and finery in adornment, attracted the celebrities, who loved the glamour and the spotlight. Ciner continues to make jewelry to this day, but apparently the vintage pieces, in particular, the necklaces, remain the most sought after by collectors. The necklace in this post was made after 1955, and is fairly heavy. The pieces in this post are most likely late fifties and early sixties.

Ciner Dramatic Mid Century Ear Clips with black centers surrounded by pave crystals

Ciner Dramatic Mid Century Ear Clips

Ciner Ear Clips 1950’s or early 1960’s

Ciner gold tone bamboo patterned necklace - signed

Ciner Gold Tone Bamboo Patterned Necklace – Signed

Ciner Gold Tone Choker Necklace - Signed

Ciner Gold Tone Choker Necklace – Signed

Italian ~ Mosaic, Micro-Mosaic & Pietra Dura Jewels Of The Past

As an update to this post – I stand corrected. I read on an antique jewellery blog, that the term for this example would be simply mosaic. I described it as micro, because it has tiny bits of glass arranged in a mosaic. The term micro mosaic actually refers to mosaics so fine, they look like a painting. The finer micro-mosaics were usually set in gold. Another term in the same genre, is pietra dura. It is the Italian term for the use of (gem)stones in a mosaic, as opposed to glass.

vintage micro-mosaic pin made in Italy

Chanel Vintage Pate de Verre Earrings ~ Three Dimensional Pale Pink Flowers On Hoops

Pate de Verre is an art glass technique where a mix of molten glass and enamel is poured into a gold dipped frame. The method was first introduced in Paris by Maison Gripoix in 1869. The process is delicate and time consuming, however, the results are quite stunning. The jeweler has many options – such as adding a subtle opalescent shimmer, in a dynamic range of colors. Each component of poured glass encased in a gold frame, is treated as a gemstone – and polished to smooth perfection.

The Chanel Pate de Verre earrings in this post are an impressive example of poured glass artistry. They have individual flower petals, in perfect symmetry – encased in the miniature gold frames. As an extra touch – each earring has a tiny gold Chanel logo on one of the flower petals. The additional ingenuity of the design, is in how they dangle. They consist of smallish gold hoops with a rounded stopper at one end. The three dimensional Pate de Verre flowers slide onto, and dangle from the hoops.

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Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Grand Tour ~ Italian Antique Mosaic Jewelry

Tesserae is the term that is used to describe one of the smallest components of stone or glass used to create a mosaic. During the Renaissance (14th-17th century) Italy – with its famous glass makers and master craftsmen, began to create micro mosaic jewelry. They created scenes and religious icons by arranging tiny bits of cut glass within a setting.

The real trend or popularity of wearing micro mosaic jewelry followed the Renaissance period into what is described as the Grand Tour between the 17th and 19th century. This promotional tour consisted of the European upper class traveling to Italy to take in the famed Italian arts and culture. During this time, the Italian peninsula became a popular tourist destination for the scenery, the enhanced social status, education and cultural adventure that was part of the Grand Tour experience.

Micro mosaics were used in other art objects in addition to jewelry. It was generally considered that the finer and smaller the tesserae, the more valuable the piece. The pin and bracelet in this post are examples of Italian mosaic jewelry. You can click on the image and then maximize it for a closer look at the tiny tesserae – as well as the detailed metal work within the setting.

vintage micro-mosaic pin made in Italy

Italian Mico-Mosaic

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Copyright Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage (2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Valerie J. Hayes and Quiet West Vintage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.