Antique Jewelry Treasures
Do You Like Heirloom Jewelry?
We do! You know, they just don't make them like this, anymore...
In our fine jewelry store, we have seen some strikingly exquisite antique pieces over the years. This is one of them; there are more below. Without exception, the loveliest ones were done, by hand.
Some of them stayed with us, to be sold with our estate jewelry; some were just "passing through" for inspection or cleaning. You will also see snapshots of one of my favorite before and after piece!
One thing that frankly "boggles" my mind, is that vintage jewelry exudes workmanship that would be much easier to duplicate today. We currently have sophisticated computer software programs at our disposal, with state-of-the-art technology - capable of creating the same elaborate designs that used to be a craftsman's pride, but with a great deal more precision and detail.
Well, then, why isn't it done?
Why Is It Not Done Today? Sometimes - It Is!
We still make some exquisitely detailed jewelry - in our fine jewelry store, but - some of the antique jewelry treasures we have seen from "yesteryear" just often make us gasp in awe!
The intricate detail, often executed by hand by master jewelers from days gone by, is simply beyond belief.
Would you like to see some more of the marvelous "treasures" that we have encountered in our store?
Well then, get comfortable, put your feet up, relax - and take a peek...
Opal and Diamond Platinum Elegance
Born of Inspiration
This opal diamond platinum ring is simply a "statement piece". A customer of ours from Ohio bought it, when visiting her sister here in Florida - who just happened to live across the street from one of my sons and his family. What a gorgeous ring!
In this ring is a meeting of the old and the new, as so many of our fine jewelry pieces are. The platinum and diamond mounting was exquisitely done, possibly over 100 years ago. A customer of ours had inherited it, minus a center stone. We purchased it from her, and then for several years, I waited - for inspiration.
One day, the inspiration came! I bought the "confetti opal" that you see above, from one of our gem dealers. I mounted it in the center of that platinum antique ring. The opal was a perfect fit, to fill the empty oval space in the ring. The colors in the gem cannot realistically be appreciated in the photo, but they are spectacular! Out in the sunlight, the opal fairly "danced" with sparkles and twinkles of color - red, pink, yellow, turquoise, blue, orange, and green.
It now lights up the face of that dear woman in Ohio, who took it home from our store and treasures it immensely.
Well, It Was Mine...
This antique diamond' ring was purchased by a customer, right "off" my finger. It is her pride and joy.
The design is simple, the lines are clean, and the slight concave curves on the side of the band along with the bar top head and the beading detail, make this a joy to behold. In the center, resides a 2-carat diamond, that just jumps out at the viewer, drawing attention to the unusual mounting - made for a man, worn by a woman. This is a classic example of a beautiful mounting that could be worn be someone of either sex.
Our customer wears it every single day. She has instructions from me, to bequeath it to me in her will - accompanied by orders from me - that she is not to die anytime soon! She says she is working on it...
This Is The BEFORE Picture... - What a piece of work!
When I first penned these words, I had visions of having this eventually hanging from a chain around my neck, encased in an elaborately designed 14K yellow gold "scroll frame".
Originally, it was the center of an elaborate bracelet, fashioned sometime in the bygone era of the "flappers" - the 1920s. The workmanship is apparent, and the diamonds are "first class"!
It was purchased by us, from one of our customers who had inherited it.
I was anxious to frame it, and display it around my neck. The yellow gold frame I intended to make, would not only provide a nice contrast to the white gold and the diamonds; it would protect this vintage piece from any more "wear-and-tear" than it had already endured. All of the precise framework that you see was "bright cut", many years ago, by a talented jeweler.
He - or she - created this using merely hand tools, an incredible amount of skill, and an unbelievable amount of patience! I had plans for it...
This Is The AFTER Picture... - Now, it is a masterpiece!
For several years, I had this one in the works, in my "Project Bag". I drew a rough sketch on a scrap of paper - just the general design. I knew how I wanted it to look, but as life goes sometimes, I just did not get an opportunity to refine the design enough to have it completed.
Finally, I was fortunate enough, to find someone in our area,who could carve the design for us, and cast the frame to enclose the diamond center. We decided to do most of it, in 18K yellow gold, and he decided to "dress it up" a bit.
"A bit", is an understatement!
To the elaborate scroll design I had drawn, he added the side diamonds, the side accent diamonds, the top and bottom bars with diamonds, and the fancy bail. We think it is a spectacular custom-made piece of jewelry, and well... you can see the results!
P.S. At this very moment, it is hanging from a chain around my neck. Mission accomplished!
NOVEMBER 2011 UPDATE - One of our customers just bought it, so it is no longer hanging around my neck. You will have to be content to view it online, as it is no longer physically in my possession!
Antique Jewelry Books on Amazon
Do you like vintage jewelry, too? I THOUGHT you did! We have included a few books here and there, that are available from Amazon for your perusing pleasure.
You don't have to be a "jewelry fanatic" to appreciate fine craftsmanship and design. Fine jewelry is a work of art, and the viewing alone, is a pleasure!
The Sword Pendant - Antique and New
Forgive the photo, here. It was the best I could do, as the pendant just didn't "hang around" very long after I created it. Thankfully, I impulsively snatched up my camera, and snapped this photograph, shortly before the piece "went out the door".
The pendant was made with antique jewelry components, from heirlooms I had purchased from customers. One part of it was originally a pendant, another part of it was a stick pin, and yet another part was a centerpiece from a lovely diamond necklace. When it was finished, it reminded me of a sword on a shield, and boasted over a half a carat of exquisitely matched, gorgeous diamonds.
The piece, as a whole is not technically an antique - but all of the 14K gold jewelry parts that I used to create it - were!
Antique Diamond Cluster Ring
This is a really nice antique piece, from the 1930 - 1940 era. Again, forgive the photo - they don't stay long in the store!
The ring is made of 14K white gold, and the diamonds are all hand-set in mountings that were cut out by hand.
As a rule, I don't care for "diamond cluster" rings, but in this case, I made an exception; it is a work of art! If you could view it first hand, you'd see. The picture just does not do it justice!
One of My One-of-a-Kind Creations
This 14K yellow gold Ceylon Sapphire Cigar Band is one of my own creations.
Technically, it is not an antique, since I made it. The center of the ring, with all of that beautiful etching, is from an antique pattern. I am including it, to show the marked contrast between most of the fine jewelry that can be found in the stores, today - and the beauty of jewelry designs from "days gone by". Here is evident elaborate detail and workmanship, that is a pleasure to behold! Actually, I can't behold this lovely ring "up close" anymore, except in photos. We sold it!
Now, I know - so don't contact me about it - that "Ceylon" is now - "Sri Lanka", and has been, since the 1960s. However, I am in the jewelry industry, and we still call the exquisite sapphires that come from that country - "Ceylon sapphires". Most likely, we always will.
Have you ever heard of a Burma ruby? Technically, that country has been renamed "Republic of the Union of Myanmar", but the phrase "Republic of the Union of Myanmar ruby" just does not roll off one's tongue, in the same fashion. Try it - you'll see!
Fit for a Queen!
The 14K yellow gold framework, is from an old antique design.
We had it custom-cast, to create what I have always considered - one of our all-time masterpieces. The pendant is roughly 2½ inches tall, and almost the same length, wide. It was selected by us, to enhance a boulder opal that one of my customers purchased from me, about 10 years ago. After many weary hours of researching designs, the customer and I decided the antique frame would be perfect, for the opal. The diamonds were a necessary addition, to balance the design, and enhance the opal.
The opal came from a man I know, who owns an opal mine, in Australia. He started out mining for opals there, but subsequently decided to purchase the mine. His opals are just incredible. I have purchased and mounted, innumerable opals from him. They always receive a lot of attention - and usually end up leaving us, for a new home.
Our customer provided this photo, so it may be a bit more difficult to see the fine details, but - you get the idea! I once borrowed it from her, to attend an enormous "wholesalers only" out-of-state jewelry show. Jewelers from all over the world stopped me, to ask where I had obtained it. I was honored to hear how much they liked it, as some of them were wearing unbelievably exquisite jewelry, themselves!
We hope that you like this exquisite pendant, as we have always thought it was a "creation and a half"!
Antique Diamond and Amethyst Ring
This one left us, too, on a customer's finger. It is something old - very old, and something new - brand new!
We often cannot bear to melt down exquisite old mountings. That's what we call the base of a ring, when it needs a center stone, or other additions, to turn it into a fine piece of jewelry. They are also called "settings". When I acquired this antique diamond mounting, from one of our regular customers, I asked their permission to create another piece of jewelry with it, and paid them extra for the gold and diamonds. It was in perfect condition - with one tiny exception. There was no gemstone in the center. I had to remedy that.
I decided it needed an amethyst, to offset the brilliant white diamonds and white gold. Just any amethyst wouldn't do, and I am really strict about our "standard of excellence". So, I ordered the best quality amethyst that I could, in an oval cabochon shape, and mounted it in the ring. I called the ring "Fire and Ice" - because the amethyst had red hues mixed in with the royal purple color of the stone. Appropriate, don't you think? One of our customers thought so, because she now wears it on her pinky finger, and enjoys all of the attention it commands.
Double Heart Antique Diamond Ring
Can you see the two hearts, nestled head-to-head, with the diamonds in them? How romantic! What a lovely, sentimental design!
This one is from the 1920 era, and it was originally owned by one of my customer's grandmothers. It is set with beautiful single cut diamonds - each one a beauty!
The cluster top of the ring itself, is very small, only about the size of a U.S. nickel. Despite its minute size, it is an arresting piece. How do you like the workmanship? When was the last time you saw one like this?
Well, the Diamond is an Antique!
All right, you caught me! This ring is not an antique, but the diamond is!
We purchased that diamond from a customer. It was in an old, worn-out antique mounting. The mounting was melted down, and went off to the refinery, but the diamond stayed, to bring pleasure to another generation of jewelry lovers.
I decided to spotlight it in a bar-top illusion head, a diamond-mounting style that was very popular 100 years ago. The wide, concave 14K yellow gold cigar band that we used as a base, turned out to be a good background for the detailed trim. It didn't stay in the store very long after I designed it, but I do get the opportunity to see it once in a while, when our customer brings it in for cleaning. You know, I always liked that particular ring, and enjoyed wearing it, but I could always make one quite similar, if I "had the notion"!
Antique Diamond Brooch and Stickpins
Look at the workmanship on the center piece, the brooch - especially.
The metal was worked by hand, which is readily apparent under a jeweler's loupe, and is quite intricate. Some of the most unbelievably detailed patterns were made manually years ago, with a lot of painstaking effort, on the part of the bench jeweler. That's a very difficult way to set small stones, as I well know!
To the left of the brooch, is one of the stickpins. The long, triangular red stone is synthetic, but the diamond below it, is real. They were both quite carefully "folded" into 14K white gold bezel mountings, by a skilled jeweler with a "good eye", and a very steady hand.
The sapphire diamond stickpin is all real, set in 14K white gold. The "chevron" design below the sapphire, really "makes" this piece lovely.
What do YOU like about Antique Jewelry?
Diamond Ring Transformed!
Originally, this antique diamond piece was a ring. The "rays" ran horizontally across the finger, which was extremely unflattering - to say the least.
Because the design was well-executed, and the old diamonds were lovely - we wanted to try to preserve it, so...
Instead of totally dismantling the item, we decided to help it "metamorphosize" into a pendant. Trimming the center off the ring carefully, we used part of the original shank, to add a gold bail, so it could be worn on a chain. That turned out to be a great idea!
Unless I am mistaken, the transfigured piece was only in the store a few days, before one of our customers decided that it needed a new home. Before she left, I took a photo of it, to keep in our files. I'm really glad I did, or I wouldn't be able to show it to you!
Love Antique Jewelry? You might enjoy...
Would you like to read more about a few of the minds behind some of the most exquisite jewelry ever designed? In this article, we showcase two books about the people behind the designs. One is about the Tiffanys, and the other is about Verdura. They both deserve to be read by anyone who thrills to the workmanship of "days gone by"!
What A Beautiful Vintage Watch!
Is this not spectacular?
We recently sold this watch, and hopefully someone will be wearing it once again. The watch case was made of 18K white gold, the lovely little snap-down clasp on the grosgrain ribbon band was 14K white gold, and the beautiful framing on the front of the bright-cut case was accented with diamonds and sapphires. The crown on the stem was a cabochon sapphire. It was just a piece of work!
The watch is a classic example of beautiful, old Art Deco workmanship, rarely seen on timepieces today, and "hats off" to the designer!
All images in this article were photographed by me, unless otherwise specified. - E. Tack
© 2010 Emily Tack