Empire de Talaru blog has moved!

Hi all,

I hope you have already received a notification of the latest blog post from my new website. If not, I will be workign to move your subscriber details to my new site, but am writing to you from my old blog as well to let you know that Empire de Talaru now has a new website.

The address is the same as you might have used for the past year: http://talaru.com

But it has a whole new look, added features and heaps more information.

I’ll be adding to the site with regular blog posts, a design portfolio explaining how I made various of my designs, and there is a boutique which links all of my Etsy stores into one place.

I plan to also add instruction videos showing you how I make some of my designs.

So, this blog at vulticulus.wordpress.com will no longer be updated but it will serve as a handy archive as I am not moving over all of my old blog posts.

All the action from now on will be happening over at the new website.

See you there!

Looking back

As I pack up my home once again in readiness to move into my new home (I WILL stay there for much longer) I have been going through old files, updating my digital existence onto a new hard drive and reminiscing about the many hundreds of designs I have made over the past few years.

I started jewellery designing in 2008 and I always enjoy seeing how my style has evolved. I can look at photos of past designs and see times when I was inspired to make what I think was my best work, and other times when I was clearly struggling with designer’s block.

The purpose of this post is to share some of those past designs, many of which were never posted on this blog or in my Etsy shop. Some of the pieces I have a little regret at selling, or more a wistfulness wishing I could see the design again in person and maybe not sell it. For most of them, I am glad they are with their new owners and giving joy all around the world.

How we mourn

Mourning jewellery and art is quite collectible but not overly popular, since many people find it creepy to own something with the hair of someone long dead, not related to you. I appreciate the sentiment that went into creating mourning jewellery and artworks, and some of the pieces are incredibly intricate – works of art, really.

Hairwork panel

Above is a French memorial plaque which would have been set into a locket. When I bought it, it was not in a locket but I have since set it onto an old daguerrotype frame. I hope to one day find a locket to set it back into. The detail of the work is incredible!

Monogram Locket Necklace

Another piece of fine hair work, this locket has the hair set onto a mother of pearl disc that is in turn inserted into a slider pendant. It would have been attached onto a thick piece of ribbon or velvet and worn as a choker, or possibly even on a belt. The chain, which I added, is made from ivory – very old ivory.


This incredibly intricate pocket watch chain is, believe it or not, made from woven hair. The quality is outstanding and the work is very fine and detailed. The hardware and clasps are gold fill, and this piece comes from France.


A favourite way to wear mourning jewellery is in rings. I particularly like the pearl surrounds, and love this unusual photo ring. I am also searching for one with a coral surround, but have yet to find the right one for my collection. The two pearl rings date to the early part of the 19th century, and the photo ring dates to the latter part of the same century.

Mourning pendants 1

In a similar style to the rings, these mourning brooches have been transformed into pendants for necklaces. The one on the left, with garnets, came to me via my aunt who had it in her family for many years. The one on the right is possibly quite early, even late 18th century, and is in silver with paste stones and a rough lock of hair set inside.

mourning lockets

This delightful collection of lockets date to the 18th century. The top one is a double sided locket and has some more hairwork on the other side, and the locket does open. Left to right at the bottom are: a polychrome French mourning pendant, with a locket opening at the back, a detailed sepia mourning pendant which has hair set into the trees, though most is hand painted, and another French locket with its pearl surround still intact.

mourning bracelet

A piece I treasure greatly and wear on occasion is this delightful 18th century mourning bracelet. It came to me un-strung, so I added the pearls. It has a beautiful sepia and hairwork design set inside under glass. A real treasure.

Next time I will show you some of the hairwork pieces I have in frames. They are, at the moment, packed away as I will be moving soon, but when I get time I will photograph them and share them with you.

New listings and SALE items

I don’t often have sales in my jewellery store but today I marked down quite a few pieces that have been slow to sell. They are lovely but maybe they weren’t priced right. See all sale items HERE.

Meantime I am making the most of the Easter long weekend to put together a few new designs from beautiful antique elements that I have been hoarding for quite a while now. I have a batch of new gemstones on their way to me from India and will be getting down to more making very soon.

Firstly, these colourful and elegant earrings made with antique French bracelet links, along with Prehnite and Apatite gemstones. You can see the full listing HERE.


Today I also made this rather stunning necklace, which features a rare and unusual antique French aide de memoire along with a very ornate Art Nouveau belt buckle. The big blue gemstones are Kyanite. You can see the full listing HERE.


If you like antique fashion prints, there are some I have recently listed in my other store, HERE.

I am an avid collector of antique fashion prints, and the ones listed in my store date to around 1830 – all are original, such as the one below.

Untitled-59 - Copy

Some interesting book lockets

For many years I have been buying, selling and collecting book lockets. These tiny little souvenirs were popular in France in the mid-1800s through to the mid-1900s. Most that I deal in come from the latter part of the 1800s.

I couldn’t tell you how many I have sold over the years – many! It is always hard to let them go because I never know when I will see another one the same. Some designs and styles are more common that others. For example a Joan of Arc or Lourdes book locket is relatively common. More obscure lockets become available from time to time and I try to buy them

I have a few of these book lockets worked into designs that I wear, and there are a few that I’ve not yet used. Here are four of the more unusual ones.

Book locketsFirst up is this delightful purse locket commemorating aviation pioneers. The pictures show various people involved in developing the aviation industry.

SONY DSC Early flight book locket


I’ve never seen another like that one so didn’t hesitate to grab it when I saw it.

Another rather rare book locket is this 1910 calendar, also from France. The rather long concertina pages that pull out have the entire name day calendar for the year of 1910, so you can look up your name day. Sweet!

1910 Calendar book locket



Napoleon book lockets can be hard to come by. There are a lot of collectors of Napoleon-related things and I felt lucky to come across this one, showing the chateau of Malmaison – home to Josephine Bonaparte.




Last, but not least, is a favourite theme for book lockets – Paris. Paris book lockets come in all shapes and sizes and the reason why this one is a little different is that it has the gargoyles of Notre Dame featured on the front. Most Paris book lockets have either the Eiffel Tower or a generic ‘souvenir’ cover.




I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of book lockets. Next time I write about them I will feature the ones I have used in designs which are also quite rare and too special for me to let go of.

Weird and wacky visions of the future

I found these intriguing images while searching around online at WikiCommons. These postcards were produced in France in the late 1800s and early 1900s to show a vision of the future for ‘France in the 21st century’. I’ve not posted all of the images here, but there are a lot that are to do with flying – flying police, flying people, flying battles. It’s very interesting to see that the future, as foretold in these images, still has people dressed the same as in the day, using machinery that looks the same as in the day – it’s the function that has changed, not the design or style.

People flying around La Place de L’Opera in Paris

An air ship

Roller skates with motors attached at the back

Roller skates with motors attached at the back

Facetime – as they saw it over 100 years ago

Getting the newspaper via audio

Getting the newspaper via audio

There’s a reason why…

…I haven’t written much lately. It’s because I have:

  1. finished a job
  2. packed up our house
  3. sold our house
  4. moved interstate
  5. unpacked our house
  6. bought a car
  7. found a new job
  8. started working in a new job.

Today was the first day since I arrived here in Brisbane a few weeks ago that I’ve had a moment to stop and relax (though I spent the day doing last year’s tax return). The reason for this lull? A cyclone has been lurking up further north, which sent two days of torrential rain down our way. You can’t really go anywhere unless you want to get drenched or slip off the road.

That does not mean I haven’t stopped making things. Au contraire. The local post office doesn’t know what has hit it, with all my parcels of treasures coming in from France and around the world. Here is some of what I’ve made.

Joan of Arc Necklace 1

Antique Assemblage Necklace featuring a rare Joan of Arc book locket, Lorraine cross, medal, antique mother of pearl rosary beads and antique chain.

I’ve been collecting Joan of Arc bits and pieces for over a year new. They are hard to come by and this necklace is chock full of very rare pieces. In particular, the book locket that is the centrepiece is quite a rare design. The photos inside are in great condition and they portray the life of this revered and popular French saint.

Joan of Arc book locket

I made another Joan of Arc piece, this time a more simple necklace that features a beautiful rosary chain with hand cut beads, little medallions and a lovely Joan of Arc mirror locket.

Joan of Arc Mirror locket necklace

The centrepiece was once a brooch and features a blue enamelled brooch that has the Lorraine cross and two griffins either side. A lovely, ornate piece. Here’s a close-up of the mirror locket.

Joan of Arc mirror locket

Spoon Earrings

And what about these delightful spoon earrings? I originally bought the spoons thinking that they were full size, and I was going to cut the tops off to use in an earring design. When they arrived I found that they were quite small – salt spoons. So I kept them intact and used them in this design with a simple embellishment of garnets and pearls. Here’s a closeup of the tops:

Spoon earrings detail

I absolutely love this sweet necklace. The chain is very ornate but quite dainty. An original photo brooch has been featured as the centrepiece, and the necklace also includes the original fob and clasps from the chain.

SONY DSC Photo brooch necklace


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