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. 

Virgo Nouveau

We’re smack in the middle of the House of Virgo, the 6th house of the zodiac that rules from August 23rd to September 22nd. Virgo is Latin for Virgin, so naturally the constellation is represented as a maiden with flowing hair. 

The Constellation  Virgo   painted by Sidney Hall in 1825. 

The Constellation Virgo  painted by Sidney Hall in 1825. 

We couldn’t help but see a similarity between Ms. Virgo and the languid ladies depicted by Art Nouveau artists:

The Precious Stones :  Topaz, Ruby, Amethyst & Emerald.  By Alphonse Mucha, 1900. 

The Precious StonesTopaz, Ruby, Amethyst & Emerald. By Alphonse Mucha, 1900. 

The above series depicts four maidens representing topaz, ruby, amethyst and emerald. We they'd look equally lovely rendered in gold and diamonds:

Art Nouveau Lady Locket in 14k gold and diamond, c. 1900. Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

Art Nouveau Lady Locket in 14k gold and diamond, c. 1900. Currently available at Gray & Davis. 

Georgian Coral Jewelry

Ever wondered why so many portraits from the early nineteenth century feature coral jewelry? You haven’t? Trust us, it’s everywhere. 

Portrait of Lady Caroline Gordon, Thomas Barber the Elder, c. 1814.

Portrait of Lady Caroline Gordon, Thomas Barber the Elder, c. 1814.

For many thousands of years, Western societies have believed coral to be a magical gem with all sorts of protective powers. 

Giovani D'Medici wearing a coral branch amulet, painted by Agnolo Bronzino c. 1545. 

Giovani D'Medici wearing a coral branch amulet, painted by Agnolo Bronzino c. 1545. 

In the Georgian era, it became an especially popular adornment for children and young women, who were thought to be the most vulnerable to illness and thus in need of extra protection! We have several of these pieces in our cases at the moment: a pair of carved coral “chain” bracelets c. 1840, and a coral cluster brooch c. 1805. Here they are below:

You can see the actress, Mrs. Sarah Siddons, wearing similar pieces in this portrait c. 1804:

Mrs. Sarah Siddons by Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

Mrs. Sarah Siddons by Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

Supposedly, if coral jewelry retained its vibrant red hue it meant the wearer was happy and healthy. If the wearer was in bad health or in danger of becoming sick, the coral would turn pale. So, bright coral jewels in a painted portrait became an effective way to convey the wellbeing of the sitter.

We’re glad to see our own coral jewels have stayed happy and kept their color through the centuries. 

Antique Baby Rings for Grown Ups

Some of the most adorable items we come across in our antique jewelry searches have to be Victorian baby rings.

Back before things like choking hazards were really worried about, parents would dress up their infants and toddlers in miniature jewels made specifically for children. 

A brief foray into the world of Mom Blogs told us that today public opinion is generally against putting rings on babies, but that’s ok because it means us adults can coopt these baby rings for our own purposes.

Here are our three favorite ways to incorporate antique baby rings into your grown-up jewelry box:

1. Midi-rings!

Many of these baby rings are just the right size to be worn as midi, or “first knuckle” rings.  An old ring that perfectly fits a new trend!

2. Charm-ing Pendants!

This lovely gift idea speaks for itself.

3. Wallet-Friendly Engagement Rings!

We are big proponents of sticking to a price point that’s comfortable when buying an engagement ring, because getting engaged should be something that is 100% fun and wonderful and 0% stressful. Since antique baby rings are made with small gems and/or amounts metal, they tend to be super affordable! Of course, we can always size them up to fit your grown up finger.