The Chinese Calendar states that 2013 is the Year of the Snake. Fashion and jewelry designers have taken this opportunity to offer many incredible designs this year which feature snakes and other reptilian forms.
Snakes have been popular in jewelry in the past. Victorian jewelry popularized the snake motif in the late 1800s.
The 18k yellow gold “Scorpion” necklace above, ca. 1978, was created by Italian designer Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. The necklace, which is formed of interlocking segments, has a detachable tail, so that just the scorpion claws can be worn as a collar. An example came up for sale at auction this past fall at Freeman’s in Philadelphia. I wanted this necklace and bid over $4,000. The necklace ultimately sold for over $11,000. I’ll just have to keep looking for another one for myself but who knows when another example will surface?
A Bulgari Sertenti Gold snake bracelet. $54,000.
This is a J. Hadley pave diamond, swirl snake ring with ruby eyes that is set in 14k yellow gold and rhodium. Price is $3,800.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum Store is offering this Eyyptian Revival goldtone snake bracelet. Price is $150.
Puffy heart charms, so named because the charms are “puffy” on both sides, were very popular in the 1940s. Most are made of sterling silver, some with elaborate enamelling or beautiful personalized engraving.
Many had themes of love, such as Forget Me Not flowers, or lovebirds. I’ve seen them with animals, fleurdelis, scrolls, repousse styling, other floral themes and WWII sweetheart military themes.
Some of the most collectible were made by Walter Lampl, who manufactured series of guilloche enamel birthday charms as well as floral series charms.
This is a mother of pearl and enamel floral charm from the 1940s.
A WWII era airplane charm, engraved “Dad” on the back.
A US Navy sweetheart charm
Home Sweet Home, Engraved “Mom”
A Walter Lampl jeweled guilloche enamel birthday series charm
Lion face charm
A Lampl enamel floral series charm, a lily, I believe.
A line bracelet is one with a single line of gemstones set in the middle. The bracelet can be flexible with a stone in the center of a link or it can be inflexible like a cuff bracelet.
I’ve seen many beautiful examples of Art Deco line bracelets over the years. This sterling silver one is unusual because it has bright red rhinestones. Many times, you will see diamonds or colorless rhinestones making up the main design. Other colors often used were sapphire blue and emerald green, either in precious stones or faux gemstones.
Although you cannot see this bracelet from the side, each link is stamped with a geometric line pattern characteristic of Art Deco design.
I used to have a list of all the different colors of bakelite, or at least what people commonly call the colors. Examples are pea soup, tomato soup, butterscotch, egg yolk, Mississippi Mud. I will post photos with examples as I run across them.
The bangle shown in this post is a good example of Mississippi Mud bakelite. It will normally be a deeper brown color with lighter color browns swirled through the body of the bakelite.
The cameo shown in the photograph is a transferware cameo. It is made of pottery which has a design transferred onto it. After the design of the cameo is put onto the pottery disk, hand-painted details are sometimes added. The pearls, the flowers in the hair and the folds in the fabric are painted by hand on top.
This method of putting designs onto jewelry via transfer allows for mass production. Because it is mass-produced, a pin like this will most likely never have the value that a fine hand-carved cameo will have. Regardless, it is pretty. This pin, which is stamped LIMOGES on the back, is from the 1950s-1960s.
Vintage Coppola e Toppo jewelry is the ultimate in beaded designer pieces that came out of Italy in the 1950s and 1960s. Coppola e Toppo was a sister and brother design team in Milan Italy who designed jewelry for some of the most famous fashion houses including Schiaparelli, Christian Dior & Valentino. Neiman Marcus in the US sold this jewelry, as did other high-end stores. Coppola e Toppo is known for elaborately beaded crystal jewelry in bold designs. The beads could also include Murano glass & Swarovski crystals.
I’m still looking for photos of celluloid jewelry to show you the different characteristics of vintage celluloid. Another example of are celluloid rings. The ones photographed here were made by Bob Dodd, a well-known celluloid artist. The variety of his designs was amazing!
Some rings of this style had photos underneath clear lamination. Over time, the lamination becomes yellowed but this is to be expected.
Prisoners made many of these style rings. I’ve heard them called “prison rings”.
Celluloid rings in the styles I’ve discussed have become increasingly hard to find. I haven’t seen one for sale in my area for a few years.
The two bangles with rhinestones are celluloid. These are unusual in that the most common type of celluloid jewelry I see are celluloid bangle bracelets and pins in a pale cream or white color, with molded flowers painted in a pastel color. Celluloid was used to make pins, hat pins, bracelets, beads, etc. Today it is still used to make guitar picks.
The dress clip shown below is more typical of the type of celluloid flower jewelry you might run across in the marketplace.
Celluloid is many times quite lightweight and the creamy colors remind me of chalk. It did come in black, which I haven’t often seen. I have a red bangle which has been coated in red, then carved so that the creamy white color underneath is exposed.
To test for celluloid, do NOT perform any type of pin test. My advice is to google lots of photos of vintage celluloid and get a feel for the common styles of celluloid jewelry. Pinterest has some excellent examples of the common styles of celluloid jewelry as well as some fantastic colors and designs in less common pieces.
I am happy to look at photos of your jewelry if you need some direction. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I did not expect these black and white cameo earrings to be from Mexico but they are. Each one is set in sterling silver. The cameos appear to be made from glass. Each one is stamped with the maker’s circular mark BGM Hecho en Mexico DF 0.925. The earrings were made by the Mexican silversmith with the initials BGM in Mexico City. The hallmarks date the earrings from approximately 1945-1980.
Siam Sterling jewelry was a popular motif in the 1950s and 1960s. It is usually stamped “Siam” or “Niello” on the back. You will find common examples with Siamese dancers on bracelets, earrings, and pins. The peacock pictured is another popular design. All Siam sterling is sterling silver and will usually have some type of black, white or colored enamel as part of the design.
This is a 1949 patented Trifari signed necklace designed by Alfred Philippe. I have attached a copy of the patent itself so you can see what a jewelry patent looks like. An excellent website for researching vintage costume jewelry patents is www.jewelrypatents.com.