Surprises and Treasures

Now that my bout of travelling for work is over I can get back down to the business of creating. I’ve not been idle in the creating department, it’s just that I’ve not had much opportunity to write about it. I have continued collecting up lovely treasures and of late have become enamoured of Empire-era jewelery from France. I suppose my love of the style from this era stems from my collection of antique fashion prints from the same period. The Neo-Classical style is one I love – not just in jewelery but in decorative arts as well. I am eagerly awaiting the Napoleon Exhibition which starts in Melbourne in a week or so. There should be some amazing examples of Empire era decor, art and jewelery on display. In fact I also have a collection of Napoleon-themed goodies ready to create some new designs, in honour of the exhibition.

In England the ‘Empire Period’ would have been called ‘late-Georgian’ – the period from 1800 to around 1825. I’ve gathered a few pieces of jewelery and artworks and hope to add to the collection.

A real treasure and recent find was this bracelet.

The photos I saw from the guy who sold it to me were a little fuzzy but I liked the mother of pearl centre piece so I agreed to buy it, if only to repurpose it into a new design. Little did I know that the entire bracelet is made from cut steel and quite probably dates to the first quarter of the 1800s.

It is a quality piece, as you can see from the tongue of the clasp – which is riveted and not simply bent metal (which can break and become unsecure over time).

Each cut steel ‘stone’ is riveted in place – another sign of quality and age. There is some slight surface rust, which I hope I can remove. The mother of pearl centrepiece shows a typically Neo-Classical symbol of an urn with flowers. The setting for this MOP centrepiece has the same claws as two other Empire era brooches I have. All of these clues lead me to believe the bracelet is from the same era. After replacing the old jump rings with blackened silver rings, I can wear this bracelet and it is a perfect fit!

Something else from the same era is this pair of framed prints. The print is as I found it – the original glass and framing, with the original prints inside. Very sweet in style and sentiment.



Another favourite of mine is this divine miniature frame – it dates to the very early 1800s, if not to the late 1700s. Don’t you love the little brass elements decorating the frame? I’ve put some reprints inside the frames for now…one day I’ll find something more original.



These two brooches are on their way to becoming a bracelet and necklace – I’ve not made any decisions on how to make them yet, so stay tuned for the final product!

Last but not least is this beautiful memorial image from France. It came to me in a much smaller, round frame. The frame had bug holes and some fresh sawdust, so fearing some nasty little destroyer, I threw out the original frame and had the image re-framed. The amazing thing with this somewhat naive picture is that it is made entirely from hair. Strands, strips, cuttings are all combined an a very artful manner into this lovely and touching memorial image. The hair is glued onto a wafer of vellum or ivory, and there is a separate panel that sits behind which has subtle colour in watercolour paint for the sky and ground.

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