Writing Your Story with Antique Jewelry
Pieces of jewelry have the unique ability to become keepers of our past. We invite them into our most pivotal and most quotidian moments, carrying them on our very bodies through our day-to-day experiences, an intimate and quiet companion to all we experience in this world.
When we speak of antique jewelry, we speak of jewelry made in an era of artistry seldom seen in today’s world of fast fashion. These pieces of jewelry have already proved themselves against the test of time, and have acquired stories and meaning along the way. Each piece is made from materials that age beautifully. Each piece has embedded in its stones, shapes, and engravings symbols of love, loyalty, and courage. Each piece speaks volumes of history and meaning, yet is uniquely unassuming in its elegance. Here are some of our favorites:
Acrostic jewelry, sometimes called secret message jewelry, uses precious stones to communicate a word meant just for the beloved. Using the first letter of the name of each stone, they would say anything from ADORE (Amethyst, Diamond, Opal, Ruby, Emerald) to REGARD (Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond). In this acrostic ring, a diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and topaz spell out DEAREST, with elegant scrolling on ring sides.
9k gold and diamond, two emeralds, amethyst, ruby, sapphire, and topaz
This small Scottish pin is features a purple stone in the shape of the heart, with thistles on either side. The thistle has been the symbol of Scotland since the 13th century, when the thorny thistle was instrumental in helping to win a decisive battle for the Scots. The purple hue of the stone in this brooch carries with it the strains of symbolic nobility, as it was featured on the crest of the Royal Stuart family. The purple heart also has a twisting gold rope surrounding it that comes to a point at the top, shaped into the symbol of infinity. This gold gilt pin features both the royal purple heart as well as the Scottish symbol of thistle.
Early 20th century
Silver gilt in gold, purple glass stone
Pin length measures 4.5 cm
Stone measures 1 x 1 cm
The Fede Gimmel ring originated in 16th century Italy as a betrothal ring. A betrothed couple would each wear one hand prior to the marriage. After the marriage, the third band, featuring either a single or a double heart, would be added. After the marriage the wife would wear all three bands. Fede Gimmel is an anglicized translation of the Italian word for "soulmate". Its characteristic clasped hands are a symbol of fidelity as they cover and protect the heart of the beloved. The Fede Gimmel style engagement ring was revived during the Victorian Era and became popular throughout the western world.
This antique piece comes from the Victorian revival period.
Sentimental jewelry has been exchanged for hundreds of years for different occasions; between lovers, from parents to children, as mementos, or to show affiliation or loyalty to a group. Lockets evolved from medieval pendants and became a place to store perfume or herbs for medicinal use. Eventually lockets became a gift of sentiment exchanged upon important dates or as mementos of loved ones dead or living, with painted miniatures being placed inside of the locket. For many years lockets were primarily for the rich, but as photography became popular in the mid-19th century, lockets became more widely spread among all social classes.
Gold-filled and enamel
Charm measures 18 x 10 mm
Plique-a-jour jewelry dates all the way back to the sixth century AD, but enjoyed a resurgence during the 1800 and 1900s. Named for its translucent quality (French for "letting in daylight"), the carefully-crafted enamel gives an effect similar to stained glass, and requires just as masterful an artistic hand to create.
This enamel pilot charm bears the Prop and Wings insignia, a mark used for the WWI and WWII US Army Air Corps. It may have been given to a pilot's sweetheart as he went to war, or it may have been awarded to a cadet after completing training.
The Prop and Wings in this charm are placed over an ivy leaf. Though the provenance of this particular piece was lost over time, there may be a connection to the 4th Infantry Division. In December of 1917, eight months after the declaration of the first World War, the 4th Infantry Division was organized to join British and French forces fighting across the Atlantic. This division fought in both World Wars, and were among the first to hit the beaches at Normandy on D-Day. Their unit insignia was an ivy leaf.
Paris hallmarked 18k gold
Charm measures 2 x 2 cm
Chain measures 18 in
As we selected the pieces to include in our antique jewelry collection, we chose those with the richest meaning, pieces ready to contribute and take part in your story. Antique jewelry becomes an heirloom not because of its age, but because it is made of materials that last, so you’re able to imbue it with your own stories, then pass it on to the ones you love to do the same.
Shop the whole collection here.