Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Symbols of Love - Scottish Luckenbooth

Locked booths were shops in Edinburgh from St Giles to Canon gate on the Royal Mile. They became the city's first Jewellery shops in the 16th century (1700's). At least the first permanent jewelry shops as traveling vendors did exist. It was these shops that gave the love token, Luckenbooth it's name.

Traditionally given to a bride by her groom on her wedding day as a symbol of love (heart) and loyalty (crown). It was believed to ease child birth and insure good breast milk. Later it is pinned to the blanket/shawl of the baby as insurance against the child taken by the "wee folk" and to protect against evil spirit

Today the Royal Mile still produce these love tokens. Hamilton & Young offers the two above.

Often Luckenbooths are decorated with the thistle. The legend is the guardian thistle saved an entire Scottish army in the Battle of Largs in 1263. A soldier of the Norse invading army stepped on one, cried out, alerting the Scots. The Scottish defeated their attackers that night. It became the national emblem of Scotland along with the along with the Latin motto, Nemo me impune Laecessit -"No one provokes me with impunity."

The Crown on most Luckenbooths are designed after the crown of Mary Queen of Scots. She gave a Luckenbooth brooch to her betroth. Her gift was decorated with her monogram and a thistle.

The above luckenbooth is offered by Schredds. It is a lovely antique hand engraved brooch circa 1870.
These jewelry pieces have traveled the world. They were used as trade jewelry with the six nations and Iroquois Indians. Inspired the Iroquois created their own "Iroquois brooch"

When we look at the Luckenbooth, we can see a symbol of love. Love of country, of wife and of children, made by Scottish artists. No wonder the Luckenbooth is said to be most romantic artifacts of Scottish history.

The last brooch shown is made by Historic Impressions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Researching the Art Deco Snake Bracelet.

When I first saw the snake bracelet I thought eighties costume, after all I had a simular one. A bracelet and matching belt. The color how ever was all wrong for costume. Gold? it had the warmth of gold. If it was it was high as it was so rich in color. I picked it up and felt the weight, yes gold.

Taking a closer look at the design elements the craftsmen ship was excellent. Tight mesh, Art deco lines in the head, the stones were set well. It was vintage but quite a bit older than the eighties. Prelimary dating. 1920's t0 1950's.

Immediately I put it on my wrist. No looking at marks for me. I had to wear it first. Now that I rationlize it, all jewelry should be wearable and I was just checking that first. If a piece is gorgous but not comfortable what is the point? How often will you wear a piece that pinches or turns? Of course then I just wanted to feel it on, I was starting to love this piece. Striking, comfortable, Nice strong design. It had character. The fit was snug and made to curl around different size wrists. 1920-1940. Fifties bracelets had a different feel a different look. They are louder, looser and larger. Non bangles are mostly oval or oblong not round like this bracelet.

The scales are shield shaped. The tail is beautifully done but the only pure Art Deco element is the head. Light on art deco? The twenties had heavy art deco elements. This piece had no straight lines. No multi level straight lines in the tail. Was it an newer piece? 30's or 40's or did the artist just have a gentle design hand? I wasn't sure at yet.

At that point the work started. I took it off and looked for marks. Immediately I noticed the 750 (not american) noting it was 18k gold. There were two more marks. One which I couldn't read and 252VI.

750 was used in most european countries. Lounges , the frame around the marks told me that it was assayed so regulations where in place. It wasn't english or french or russian all have complicated and distinct marking systems. It probably wasn't american since it had a makers mark in numbers (the 252VI). It's important not to rule any thing out definately. Many items are marked in non-traditional ways. Or made in non traditional ways. I looked at it through a loop and still couldn't make out the third mark.

The next day, I tested the piece. Even though it was marked it was a heavy piece and marks have been known to be faked. It tested 18k. Good start

Next I took a macro photo of the mark. Then another, then a third and forth. and fifth. Why so many? Because I still couldn't read the third mark. Macro photography can show you more than a loop. The third mark was a blur no matter how clear or enlarged the photo was. Finally I decided it just wasn't punched clearly, alas no clues there.

Next I looked up the marks. I started with 750 which ruled out portugal which for the most part sells 19k gold. A good starting point for me was Italy and Spain. Luckily I started with Italy. Italy is famous for it's 18k gold work.

I had a good idea by now what period to start with 1920's. Italian hallmarks for the twenties has oval outline or no outline at all. My piece had very distinct shape a diamond with the ends cut off (certainly not oval.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This Next Contest - Aqua Marine Moon Necklace by Jennifer Curl

This has a contest to win this Aqua Marine Necklace by Jennifer Curl (on the left). Described as:

Aqua Marine Moon Necklace
Raw aqua marine moon on a gold fill chain. This beautiful blue circle is sure to shimmer even at night.
Length:15" with 3" extension:18"

A simple circle with a twist. Although it isn't my personal style, the contest is interesting on different levels.

  • It is a necklace that goes with almost any outfit, dressy or jeans and t-shirt. The aqua marine is has color but will go with almost anything.
  • It is most certainly fashionable.
  • One of you (hopefully) will win this.
  • Jennifer Curl is a designer that I was not familiar with until today. I love discovering new designers.]
  • A This Next contest is a wonderful way for any designer to promote their work.
Jennifer Curl's glass flower necklaces and earrings have a slightly retro romantic feel. Giving clients a choice between that and her more modern gemstone collection. Both styles offer versatile fashion choices.

Her website includes a twitter link, weekly specials, a membership and a contest sign up. Contest for the same piece? Although the picture is a blue flower. I'm not sure. I haven't signed up. Her prices range from $18 to $57 as of this entry.

This next asks you to expand their shopping site. There is a page with the contest rules to read. I personally find it difficult to use This Next on a regular basis. It's not quick to add items and it requires comments for each add on. Who has the time? But tell me what you think. If you win the necklace let me know.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In Company of Marionettes

Return to Witch Mountain (the original) had that wonderful Marionette scene. As a child I tied strings to many a toy to create marionettes. A knitted clown was my favorite.

Company of Marionettes on Etsy has gone way beyond tying strings to toys. They hand carve different characters. Their current prices range from $75 to just shy of $1000. Tony Sinnett explains that each Marionette takes days, weeks and even months to perfect. He excepts commissions. If you want to learn more about Tony Sinnett or Marionettes you can visit Tony's blog.

As always just click on the pictures to the marionette.(if they are still being offered for sale) If not no worries there are two other links to enjoy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hoops from the Sea to the Streets

Jetsam's Surfer Hoops ($75) are Hand forged. Simple yes but not boring. These are definitely the kind of earrings that can go with any daytime outfit. Jetsam has more hand forged items with set with sea glass but these are my favorites.

Marlena Genau has a different twist on hoops. Her bio says "I savor the pleasure of pushing metal to its limits." and she does in the AC Hoop Earrings ($265). They look more like sculpted ribbons than sterling hammered into twists.

I can't mention anticlastic earrings with out showing Nancy Linkin's work. Simply named "Spiral Earrings" ($425-595) these spiral earrings are graceful, organic and the reason I think she is the queen of anticlastic metal work.

Modern Hoops started in the streets. With out a doubt DMD Metal brings us amazing hoops that is all street with no boardroom or ballroom. These Train Hoops ($195) are not for every event but they do make an statement. What wonderful art!