A Treasure and a Passion

I have a goal to adorn myself completely with Georgian-era jewels. That would mean earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces. I’m nearly there now…just need to source some earrings, which are quite rare expensive and tricky to find. It could be a rather expensive goal, but I am trying to be creative in how I approach it. Buying complete sets, unadulterated, would be well beyond my means. I need to buy pieces which need some work or finishing. I’m not a jeweler, but I can turn something into something else.

 I have three lovely Georgian rings, a few pendants and this bracelet clasp. The clasp pictured below came to me as a brooch, actually, but I believe it was originally made as a bracelet clasp. I’ve seen other examples of these where the clasp is sewn onto a length of black ribbon – not sure what material exactly, maybe silk or velvet. I wanted a lighter more modern look for my piece so I strung five strands of small rice pearls onto beading wire and finished them with 15ct gold crimp covers.

I finished it last night, and am wearing it now. It looks fantastic and feels great. The clasp itself is an example of Georgian sepia work, where the image is painted onto a piece of ivory, then set under glass or rock crystal and set into the clasp. This piece was ‘cheaper than usual’ because there is a hairline crack in the ivory – hard to see unless it is right at your eye. The painting is done with ‘macerated hair’ which means someone cut hair snippets from loved ones and chopped it up really small and mixed it in with the ink. Sounds creepy but such things were done not only for mourning but for sentimental reasons – a sister leaving to be married, a mother and children, a husband working away from home. The image shows a lady kneeling at a plinth with the words ‘gratitude’ etched into the plinth. A little cupid flies above and the trees have the hair in them.

So maybe this piece is a bit grandiose for everyday wear but I don’t care. I love it and have resurrected it to be worn and loved and admired, and so I will. The clasp dates to around 1790-1800.


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