A Victorian Gate Bracelet

Gate bracelets--link bracelets with a heart-shaped padlock closure--were a popular gift around the turn of the twentieth century. 

 English gate bracelet in 9k yellow gold, c. 1900. Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

English gate bracelet in 9k yellow gold, c. 1900. Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

Traditionally, a gentleman would place the bracelet on the wrist of his paramour and lock the clasp with a matching key, thus ensuring that he was the only one able to open the "gate" to his lady love's heart. 

The clasp on our gate bracelet functions quite well without it's key, so whoever wears it is able to to open and close their heart's gate according to their own free will. 

From the Gray & Davis Archives

Below are a few of the fabulous jewels of Gray & Davis past. We’re glad these pieces went to good homes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reminisce!

From top to bottom:

- Hand Engraved Art Nouveau locket with sapphire cabochons

- French navette bracelet in gold and platinum set with moonstones and rose cut diamonds

- A fabulous pair of Victorian gold earrings

- Hinged snake bangle with enamel and gemstone head

- Edwardian cocktail ring with two large natural pearls and old mine cut diamonds set in platinum

VICTORIAN BRACELET PAIRS

During the Victorian Era, bracelets were often sold in pairs. Today, it's rare to find two matching bracelets that are still together, so we are quite pleased to have three lovely sets in our cases for the holidays:

Back in the day ladies would have worn one bracelet on each wrist, but we think they look pretty nifty all stacked up together:

 Three sets of nineteenth-century bangles in 14k yellow gold, all available at Gray & Davis.

Three sets of nineteenth-century bangles in 14k yellow gold, all available at Gray & Davis.


A Monday Menagerie

We have quite a collection of animal-themed jewels at the moment.

A lovely lizard:

 Brooch, 18k gold, coral, diamond & ruby. 19th century, French. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Brooch, 18k gold, coral, diamond & ruby. 19th century, French. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

An Outstanding Owl:

 Brooch. 9k gold, Bohemian garnet. 19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Brooch. 9k gold, Bohemian garnet. 19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Some slithering snakes surrounding a scarab:

 Ring. 14k yellow gold, boulder opal carved as scarab. Art Nouveau c.1900. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Ring. 14k yellow gold, boulder opal carved as scarab. Art Nouveau c.1900. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

A ghostly goat:

 Intaglio seal ring. 14k gold, carnelian, early 19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Intaglio seal ring. 14k gold, carnelian, early 19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Two loving lions:

 Bangle. 18k yellow gold, 19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Bangle. 18k yellow gold, 19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

A foxy fox:

 Brooch. 14k yellow, ruby. Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

Brooch. 14k yellow, ruby. Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

And some busy beetles:

 Earrings. 14k yellow gold, Brazilian tortoise beetles. Mid-19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Earrings. 14k yellow gold, Brazilian tortoise beetles. Mid-19th century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

All About Scottish Agate

Antique Scottish agate, or “pebble” jewelry is bold, sentimental and a tad bit kitschy: a perfect embodiment of the Victorian era. 

 Victorian Scottish agate luckenbooth brooch, c. mid-nineteenth century.  Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

Victorian Scottish agate luckenbooth brooch, c. mid-nineteenth century.  Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

The same way Woody Allen’s Gil Pender ached to time travel back to the roaring twenties in Midnight in Paris, nineteenth-century Brits pined away for a life in Medieval Scotland. The country’s romantic castles and dramatic, empty landscapes provided the perfect backdrop for urbanites caught up in the industrial revolution to imagine themselves as noble knights and their lovely ladies.

Queen Victoria herself was an enthusiastic proponent of all things Scottish. In 1847 she purchased Balmoral castle in Aberdeenshire as a vacation home, and published affectionate memoirs of hunting for gems in Scottish streams. 

 Illustration of Queen Victoria rocking some tartan. 

Illustration of Queen Victoria rocking some tartan. 

Tourists were swept up in the Queen’s fascination with the highlands, and followed her there in search of their own authentic Scottish experience. Local jewelers and merchants capitalized on this influx of vacationers by producing jewelry featuring stones like the ones Queen Victoria had found in the creeks near Balmoral. Multicolored mosaics of striped and speckled agates, smoky quartzes and pink granite were carefully arranged in engraved settings of silver and gold.

Many of these jewels were fabricated as traditional Scottish forms dating back to the Middle Ages - like the luckenbooth, or crowned heart brooch pictured above. Scottish style agates were also used in more contemporary Victorian designs, as demonstrated by the two stunning bangles below. 

 Two hinged bangles in silver, Scottish agate and cairngorn. c. mid-nineteenth century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Two hinged bangles in silver, Scottish agate and cairngorn. c. mid-nineteenth century. Currently available at Gray & Davis.

Scottish jewelry was at its height of popularity between 1845 – 1870, but remained fashionable until the turn of the century. A fair number of pretty pieces survive today, waiting to be taken from their dusty velvet boxes by those nostalgic for a time long before their own.