Friday, November 14, 2008

Jet Set Jewelry

Lockets have a special facination for me, things with lids that open. Hinges that move, boxes with tops.

Little front covers that swing, revealing hidden compartments with secrets stashed inside.

Tiny book charms with little folded papers, commemorating a special event like the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. The three-tier watch fob in the photo at the left is a souvenir of the 1904 World's Fair held in St. Louis, where ice cream cones made their debut.

I wear a lot of black, both clothing and jewelry, and I enjoy creating things that match well with black. There are some lovely designs in antique jewelry that are made with black settings, carved black stone and chains.

During part of the Victorian eara in the late 1800's, a style of jewelry came into fashion that interests me. It's called Victorian Jet Jewelry, and while some of it was meant to be worn during mourning, black jewelry was also fashionable at that time and worn for sentiment, carrying a message or symbol as a memento of a loved one.

The photo at the right shows a brooch made of jet, with etched silver on the top of it. It's antique, but it looks very contemporary, even modern. It would be a unique challenge to reproduce some of these designs, adding just a little current flair.

Jet is black semi-precious stone, the black fossilized wood of an ancient tree that grew millions of years ago. It's similar to amber, the fossilized resin of coniferous trees that grew 345 million years ago. Amber washes up on the shores of the Baltic, and is mined in the Dominican republic.

Most jet is from Whitby, England. It's been mined there, on the Yorkshire coast of England, since prehistoric times. Think about the history of civilization and you can't help coming up with uses for amulets and ornaments, even then. Jet stones are usually hand carved to create the beautiful jewelry pieces that were worn in the 1860-1890 period.

Some are religious medallions, some jet jewelry had insets of hand painted porcelain minature portraits at a time before photography.

If you want more information about english carved jet jewelry, there's a good website with lots of photos.

I want to make some beads and charms that look like black victorian style jet, wouldn't something like that be great for the holidays with that very necessary little black dress!

1 comment:

Round Rabbit said...

Wonderful post! I am huge fan (and a bit of a hoarder) of Victorian jewelry and find it a never ending source of inspiration for my own work. :)