T.B. Starr Antique Engagement Ring Setting

It’s usually possible to date a piece of antique jewelry by observing materials, style and production methods, but if a piece was never marked by its manufacturers, it's often impossible to know for sure the specifics of where it was made and who has owned it over the years.

However, every once in a while you get lucky and find a piece that has its history written right on it!

When we recently acquired this late nineteenth-century ring setting, we were initially drawn to its impeccable craftsmanship and graceful design.

The best part is hidden inside the band: the ring is engraved, in clear and elegant script, with a couples’ initials and special date (HLB to EW, July 22nd, 1899). It is also stamped with the slightly-worn maker’s mark,“TB Starr.”

The “TB Starr” stamp belongs to Theodore B. Starr, a celebrated merchant of jewels and silverware who was called “one of the leading jewelers in the city” in his 1907 New York Times obituary.  Before forming his own company, he had partnered with Herman Marcus (a celebrated on-again-off-again designer for Tiffany & Co., and later founder of Marcus & Co.)

The ring is crafted in 18k yellow gold and platinum, and retains its six original old European-cut accent diamonds. The now-empty center most likely held a natural pearl when it was first purchased, over a century ago.

The only question that remains, is what sort of gem should take the pearl’s place?

Say YES to Wednesday: Yellow Gold, Platinum and Diamond Edwardian Cluster Ring

Completely hand-fabricated c. 1900, this lovely engagement ring features a bezel-set cluster of old European cut diamonds atop an elegant, sloping band. 

14k yellow gold and platinum ring with 0.98 carats of old European cut G-I color and VS/SI1 clarity diamonds.

14k yellow gold and platinum ring with 0.98 carats of old European cut G-I color and VS/SI1 clarity diamonds.

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Say YES to Wednesday: Edwardian 1.94ct Diamond Engagement Ring

This late Edwardian beauty holds a 1.94ct old European cut diamond in a millegrained bezel. Tapering platinum shoulders are each set with three graduated single cut diamonds, and lovely open work surrounds the sides of the center stone. This ring was made c.1910. This ring has balanced, elegant design exemplary of the time period. 

Would you say yes?

A Brief History of Christmas Dinner

What's on your holiday dinner table? Be it seven fishes or seven cartons of Chinese takeout, it's surely steeped in tradition. Several classic Christmas recipes (roast beast anyone?) began appearing a few centuries ago and were made around the same time as our antique jewelry. 

So, put on your favorite gems and pour yourself a glass of egg nog (enjoyed since the Middle Ages)! It's party time.

A Georgian holiday table might feature marrow bones, mince pies, roast pig and fowl and some sort of baked fruit dessert. We now consider this dinner a bit rustic, but most holiday dinner staples such as a roast turkey and pie date to this era, if not before. 

Georgian Enamel, pearl and rose cut diamond ring, at Gray & Davis.

Georgian Enamel, pearl and rose cut diamond ring, at Gray & Davis.

A Georgian holiday party, c.1808

A Georgian holiday party, c.1808

A Georgian five diamond ring in silver and 18k yellow gold, at Gray & Davis.

A Georgian five diamond ring in silver and 18k yellow gold, at Gray & Davis.

Victorian literature gives us a taste of what could be found for a 19th century holiday table. Christmas dinner was meant to be the finest meal of the year. Roast poultry, oyster stuffing, and plum pudding were staples. It is said that Prince Albert's sweet tooth is the reason for pudding's place at the royal feast and, subsequently, at almost every English Christmas meal. Just as several jewelry trends were swayed by Victoria's tastes, so too was the preference for rich dessert encouraged by Albert. 

Victorian Christmas party, c.1873

Victorian Christmas party, c.1873

Victorian watch fob and nested snake ring, available at Gray & Davis. Diamond snake ring is available in our  online shop . 

Victorian watch fob and nested snake ring, available at Gray & Davis. Diamond snake ring is available in our online shop

Edwardian opulence called for massive Christmas trees, over the top decorations and a holiday feast to match. In wealthy homes, classic dishes such as roast pork and ham would have been preceded by champagne, quail eggs and caviar. Delicate soups replaced heartier stews of yore as French cooking became the global standard for excellence (partially thanks to Edward VII, for whom the Edwardian era is named!) 

An Edwardian dinner party, bathed in candlelight.

An Edwardian dinner party, bathed in candlelight.

Edwardian paste dangle earrings, silver on 14k gold, available in our  online shop . 

Edwardian paste dangle earrings, silver on 14k gold, available in our online shop

The Art Deco period coincided with the American prohibition of alcohol sale and consumption, though we know this stopped few from enjoying a tasty tipple. Cocktails such as the French 75, whose recipe was published in 1930 and features a festive champagne float, and the Bee's Knees, meant to take the edge of bathtub gin with soothing lemon and honey, are still being mixed in restaurants today. And, they are perfect for holiday festivities. 

An Art Deco era holiday party. 

An Art Deco era holiday party. 

A fabulous stack of Art Deco eternity bands, available at Gray & Davis, and in our  online shop . 

A fabulous stack of Art Deco eternity bands, available at Gray & Davis, and in our online shop