Antique Vintage Jewels

Antique Memento Mori Jewelry
Memento Mori is the name given to sixteenth through eighteenth century jewelry that was created as a reminder of the inevitability of death. The literal translation from Latin is "Remember You Must Die".
This seventeenth century memento mori skull pocket watch is kept in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England
Skulls, Skeletons and Coffins, often worked in gold and enamel were the predominant motifs, vividly illustrating the underlying sentiment of pending mortality.
Memento Mori. Carved ivory rosary, early 16th century. Currently in the Metropolitan museum of art, New York.
Rings were the most common form of Memento Mori jewelry, although they could take the form of lockets and pendants.
This enamelled gold mourning ring commemorates the death of Samuel Nicholets of Hertfordshire who died on 7th July 1661, as is recorded in the inscription inside the ring. The ring is hollow, and a lock of hair curls around within it, visible through the openwork of the enamelled decoration of skulls and coats of arms.
The tradition flourished in the eighteenth century, but the name of the individual being memorialized became more prominent
A sixteenth-century Mexican or Flemish silver-gilt and rock-crystal pendant depicting a skull wearing an imperial crown, with crossbones and a cross beneath. (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Jet mourning jewelry, extremely popular in the 19th century.


Antique Hairwork Jewelry
Human hair was incorporated in jewelry since the late 18th century in "Memento Mori" pieces, to remember a loved one. It was taken from the person when still alive and worked in small pieces of art for rings, lockets and pendants. Jewelry of mourning and sentiment flourished in Victorian Britain.
1754, England. Silver openwork set with rose and brilliant-cut diamonds and rubies, and enamelled gold with hair. Hair jewels were worn to cherish the living as well as to remember the dead. The survival of many pieces celebrating love and friendship indicate their great social importance.
Jewelry fashioned from hair actually began in Georgian times, but became very popular and widespread during the Victorian era. Victorian Hairwork Jewelry served not only as a memento to remember the dead, but also as a "Love Tokens" to keep dear ones close. These precious locks of hair were often kept in special compartments on the back of brooches, rings, lockets and watch fobs.
Absolutely beautiful thick weave hairwork brooch. "Antique Brooch, Hairwork, Flower and Heart Design
There are two types of Victorian Hairwork.; The first is where small designs are made on an artist's palette. This is referred to as "Palette" work. Here, the hair is placed within a crystal. Sometimes only a curl was used, other times elaborate designs or pictures were created out of the hair. The finest of these Victorian "Palette" hair brooches ever produced were made in the 1840's and 1850's in England.
This was the flowers that women made out of their hair ... sometimes made as mourning pieces as well as "family trees" of hair collected from family members
The second type of Victorian hairwork is called "Table Worked" hair. The hair was actually woven and worked like lace. The hair weaving technique is done using a special table with a hole through the center. The hair is weighted with bobbins and the weaving is similar to bobbin lace. The hair is prepared, counted, weighed and placed on the table. With this technique, the hair was woven into coils and threads used to make chains, bracelets, earrings, crosses, rings, etc. 
Friendship' Memorial Brooch. A nice example of hair work picture on ivory. Circa 1780-1800.
After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, hair was often taken from the deceased (adults and children) to be incorporated into pieces of mourning jewelry.
Victorian hair work in shape of a bow. The bow has a rose gold forget me not in the center. Dangling from the bow is a puffy rose gold heart and two round hair work balls.
mourning brooch....circa 1800-30 beautiful example of hairwork on ivory....entire picture is hairwork


Portrait Miniatures in Antique Jewelry

AN HISTORIC ROYAL PORTRAIT MINIATURE BROOCH, BY KOECHLI The two miniature portraits of HRH Prince Nicholas of Greece (1872-1938) and HI and HR Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia (1882-1957) commemorating their wedding in 1902, within a rose-cut diamond border to the heart-shaped vari-cut diamond frame, 4.4 cm. high, with Russian assay mark for gold With maker's mark for Friedrich Koechli (1839-1909)
In jewelry, miniature usually refers to Portrait Miniatures. Before the invention of photography, Portrait Miniatures were very popular. Beautiful Miniatures of Landscapes, Landmarks and Famous Paintings were produced, but, the most loved was the Portrait, created in Gouache, Watercolor and later Enamel.
Portrait Miniature on Ivory, Double Miniature/ 18 carat Pendant Frame, Edwardian
The art of Miniature Portrait painting was most popular during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Portrait Miniatures were loved for many reasons, as a special memento of a loved one and even as a form of identification or introduction. Portrait Miniatures were usually created on a small scale and were beautifully set on watches, brooches and snuff & jewelry boxes.
Antique 18kt Gold, Portrait Miniature, and Diamond Pendant/Brooch, Tiffany & Co., depicting the Duchesse d’Angouleme
During the 16th century, watercolor on Vellum was the medium of choice. Portrait Miniatures were painted in oil on copper and created in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. After 1750 Enamel was the favorite painting technique used by artists. The 18th century saw a return of Watercolor painting, only this time the paintings were painted on Ivory.
Portrait miniature, Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) Augustin Jean-Baptiste-Jacques (1759-1832)
With the the development of the Daguerrotype and Photography the art of the Portrait Miniature fell into obscurity.
Arts & Crafts Gold, Silver And Fire Opal Locket With Miniature Portrait - British, c.1900


Daguerreotypes in Antique Jewelry
Two women wearing bonnets, earrings, brooch, veils. Gold; brooch
A Daguerreotype is an early type of photograph, first discovered and patented in France by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre.
The process for producing a Daguerreotype is a complicated one, that begins with a direct-positive image produced on a copper plate prepared with a layer of photo-sensitive Silver Halide

Vintage Victorian Children Antique Daguerreotype Photo Mourning Pin Brooch
Iodine vapor exposure made the mirror-like surface light-sensitive. Placing the plate in a camera and exposing it to a lighted scene formed a latent image. The image was developed by exposing it to heated mercury. Condensation of the mercury on the highlights of the image resulted in an amalgam.

Victorian Daguerreotype Mourning Pendant
Use of a developing box allowed the photographer to stop development when the image was satisfactory. A fixer was used to dissolve any unexposed halides and create the final fragile image.

1840s gold locket w/ Daguerreotype portraits
Daguerreotypes had to be covered in glass to prevent damage to the image including actually rubbing the image off. A brass mat was often placed over the picture to crate a space between the image and the glass. A good seal was also necessary to protect the image from oxidation. These enclosures were sometimes vacuum sealed and the air replaced with nitrogen. A brass binding, known as a 'Preserver' was often used to hold the brass mat, Daguerreotype and glass cover together.
Antique 19c Gold GF Locket Brooch Daguerreotype Photo 
Daguerreotypes were in general use in the 1850's, until the invention of photography. Daguerreotypes, Hair Jewelry, Cameos and Portrait Miniatures were the main forms of Memento Jewelry. Hair mementos continued to be popular and were often paired with Daguerreotypes to create a complete remembrance of a loved one.

Daguerreotypes were Unique Images!

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