Tag Archives: 18th century jewelry

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.

A long weekend of making stuff

I love when Australia Day falls on a weekend. That means we get the Monday off as a public holiday. This year, I spent the entire three days making jewellery. Two of those days I was housebound as B had to drive to Sydney and now that we only have one car, I really couldn’t go too far. Which is nice, and everything we need is close by anyway.

Probably the main reason for this creating frenzy is that a week ago we had a heat wave of 44 degree days for 5 days in a row. Unless you went through this horror of weather, not unlike the end of the world as I imagine it, you have no idea how absolutely horrible such a heat wave is. It does not cool down at night, when it can still be 35 degrees at 4am. There is no wind, and the house never cools down, the aircon packs up and spews water everywhere because it can’t cope, and you think your dog is going to die from heat exhaustion.

One evening it took me 2 1/2 hours to get home because the trains failed, and the trams were on infrequent schedule. I ended up packed into a full tram, aircon barely working, stuck in the stairwell with the sun beating down through the window. After the hour long trip to get part of the way home (B came to get me from the terminus) I was delirious and sick – took me a good three days after the cool change to feel better again. So the point of telling you this story is to explain why I did not even go into my studio for a whole week, and we have another slightly milder heat wave on its way for this week – mid-high 30s all week. Every ounce of your energy is spent on simply existing, and it is exhausting.

I really need to get to making more antique designs, as they are selling fast at the markets I go to. I have a few designs in various stages of construction, but I did put together this simple piece for myself. I’ve had these 18th century carriage tokens hanging around for ages, not really knowing what to do with them. Then when I came across this stunning reproduction book chain, I knew exactly what I would do with them:

Carriage token necklace


If I ever do find more I can always add to the necklace, but for now there are three, with the oldest dating to 1731.

For many years I’ve been getting rare antique charms and elements made into moulds and cast for components. These one-off elements need to be preserved and I think I have nearly 50 moulds in my name. I had a whole bunch of random charms and things made from these moulds just hanging around in a box, so I decided to make some charm necklaces and bracelets with them. Here are the results, which are for sale at L’Atelier de Talaru.

I also finally used this amazing 18th century paste shoe buckle to make into a necklace. I had been pondering for over a year what to do with it. It is quite rare and very stunning. My new book chain came to the rescue in this simple but very harmonious design. To think that this piece was treading the footpaths of 18th century France….

Shoe buckle necklace


On the tribal side of things, I have been busy as well. My latest interest is in making my own polymer clay beads. I love the rolling, texturing and painting of the beads, which results in something totally unique for my designs. With polymer clay you get bulk without weight, and the end result is entirely up to you. It is a cheap component, and the value is added by the work put into the finished product. Here are some earrings I made with some of my beads:

Polymer pod earrings


The above are textured beads paired with Rustic bead caps and wooden beads. Below is a completely different design with clear glass beads and rustic bead caps.



I do also like to use components from other designers, and have been buying up lovely handmade ceramic beads. The earrings below are made with handmade yellow porcelain beads and very old glass whorl beads from Mali.

Yellow pumpkin bead earrings

Finally, I have been working with copper and using patinas to give different colours and patterns. For the pair below I paired my unique copper teardrops with ancient Roman glass. I like the result.

copper and roman glass earrings


A short break…

We took the week off work this week…to do nothing. It was great. Not having to get up with the alarm, battle traffic and sit in the office all day. We did some touristy things around town, ate out in very nice restaurants, did some tidying up at home and generally relaxed around our local area. You need a holiday like that sometimes.

This afternoon I came across a delightful little macaroon stand. They sell two things – macaroons and high quality French tea. So I bought a small box of macaroons and a tin of Earl Grey tea and we had a nice Frenchy afternoon tea. The macaroons were in all manner of exotic flavours such as rose petal, blackberry, pistachio and violet. My favourite was salted caramel – which was sticky and caramelly. I just loooove salted caramels. You can buy them all over France, in so many flavours, and now they are becoming fashionable here. Which is a good thing.

I also managed to do some creating, and put together some nice designs for L’Atelier de Talaru. I love this bracelet, which uses a 100 year old bicycle registration plaque. I have other plaques, from different years, and they are all beautifully designs, for such a utilitarian item.

And for something quite simple and elegant…this casino chip necklace on pretty golden cut steel beaded chain.

I also re-visited this beautiful old Art Nouveau French pendant. Previously it was part of a necklace design that just didn’t seem to work. So I took it apart and re-made it into something simpler. I think it turned out quite well.

And finally I thought I’d share with you some inspiration. My all-time favourite stone to work with and own is coral. Old old coral is the best, and Georgian coral is for me, the pinnacle. Here is an example of an early 19th century coral necklace. I don’t intend to pull this one apart – it’s part of my collection, and I do wear it sometimes.

And here is some more coral which has been worked into some designs, combined with old and ancient lockets, seals and chain.



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