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Our Latest Jewelry Buying Trip: England, Part 1
11 / 21

 

SNEAK PEEK: LATE GEORGIAN/EARLY VICTORIAN GOLD BAND

 

We’ve just come back from a buying trip in England where we picked-up some unusual and interesting pieces. I’m drawn to sentimental jewelry, especially ones that allow the wearer to stash a secret message, picture, or even a bit of perfume. We couldn’t pass up this late Georgian/ early Victorian ring that appears to be a just a simple gold band ring…

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Antique Victorian Gold Band Ring

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

 

SECRET COMPARTMENT RING

 

…but, press a small button on the side and the top portion of the band opens up to reveal a hidden compartment. Enclose a message or motto written on a piece of paper or engrave a note, monogram or date on the inside in this Secret Message Ring. A great piece to wear stacked with one of our micro pave diamond bands or a pair of gem-set eternity bands, one on each side. Emerald, sapphire or ruby would all pair nicely with the warm glow of the antique gold.

 

Antique Gold Band Ring with Secret Message Compartment

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

It’s only the first part of November and already all of London is dressed up for Christmas. The streets are decorated with tinsel garlands and Liberty, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, among others, already have elaborate winter and holiday scenes in their windows.

 

 

Double Decker Red London Buses on Regent Street, London

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

In between hunting for new pieces, I had a few minutes here and there to make a few “just for fun” stops.

 

DESIGN & DECOR

 

I am obsessed with this salon chair from Christopher Howe. It can be made with one of their fabrics, in leather, or with a something one of a kind, like a vintage flag. I love the one in the center below with the Union Jack.

 

Union Jack Flag Salon Chair From Howe in London

 

Courtesy of Howe, London

 

UNION JACK SALON CHAIR AT CHRISTOPHER HOWE SHOWROOM

 

I stopped by the Howe showroom on a late rainy London afternoon to take a look around. Located on Pimlico Rd., the store is filled with a mix of antiques and Howe’s designs.

 

Front of Howe Show Room on Pimlico Rd. in London

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

While I was there chatting, I found out that Thomas Pink had ordered chairs for their store, custom made with a pink and grey Union Jack pattern using their shirts. Later in the week, I just happened to pass by a Pink store and had to stop in to see if it was the ONE. Sure enough it was and I snapped a picture. I’d love to have one in white linen with the union jack in hot pink and scarlet red silk.

 

Pink and Grey Union Jack Flag Chair at Pink Store in London

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Options include an exposed back, if you like, and/or construction the old-fashioned way, with horse hair, said to last forever.

 

Christopher Howe Custom Salon Chairs at Pink in London

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

IF IT’S SUNDAY – IT’S THE COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET

 

Even though it’s November, London still manages to have its fair share of blooms. Every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3-ish, the Columbia Road Flower Market comes alive. A small stretch of Columbia Road is blocked off and the street is filled with flower stalls (and a lot of people).

 

It’s a great place to stock up on flowers for the week, grab a cup of coffee, and hang out, which is what 50% of the crowd seemed to be doing on this crisp, but sunny afternoon. Not into flowers? There are a number of fun and cute boutiques to check out. Two of my favorites: Suck and Chew (candy store) and Future Vintage (fashion).

 

Purple and Pink Tulips at Columbia Road Flower Market in London

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Orange and Yellow Tulips at Columbia Road Flower Market in London

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

MORE FLOWERS IN NOTTING HILL

 

We also hit Portobello Road on a Saturday. Despite the crowds later in the morning, it is my idea of heaven. Vintage fashion, great food stands and restaurants and of course a wide range of antiques. I wanted to buy up all of the roses at this corner flower shop on one of the side streets.

 

a sea of pink roses

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

roses at corner florist in Notting Hill

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Vines growing up these plum colored row houses on Portobello.

 

Colorful Row Houses Portobello Road

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

SWEET TREATS

 

Stopping in for something warm at Fortnum & Mason, the most amazing mix of food hall, confectionery, gift emporium and cafe/tearoom/bar. I’m in love with their signature color (sometimes it looks robin’s egg blue and sometimes a turquoise blue-green. I purchased a number of their biscuit (pistachio clotted cream, chocolate florentines, etc.) tins to turn into vases, a bon bon box, or possibly a velvet-lined trinket box. I haven’t quite decided.

 

Fortnum & Mason

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

The first floor at Fortnum & Mason, drooling over the jellies, Turkish delights, chocolates, etc. in the confectionery area.

 

confectionery department at Fortnum & Mason

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Stopped for something to eat in their second floor “Palour”: cappuccino, with a mini cappuccino ice cream cone on the side and the traditional scones, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves. The best scones I have ever had!

 

scones, strawberry preserves and clotted cream at Fortnum & Mason

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Doughnuts from a food stand on Portobello Rd. They looked amazing and I so badly wanted a raspberry filled jelly, but I managed to resist.

 

Food Stands on Portobello Road

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

More sneak peeks and fun pics from London in Part II. Check back!

 

07 / 22

 

TRENDING – A RING FOR EVERY FINGER

 

On Saturday, we shared with you the latest addition to our Ring Collection: an Enamel Flower Ring with a European Cut Diamond, “Wild Violet” – See more at: Part 1 of Our Latest Obsession. At Sugar et Cie, we love to mix the antique, vintage & modern. Two of the jewelry trends that were big last year and that continue to stay strong are “a ring for every finger” (or at least multiple fingers) and stacking rings.

 

We’ve paired our latest creation featuring an antique enameled violet, with a stack of modern (new and can be ordered) micro-pave diamond eternity bands. They come in 18 Kt. white gold, white gold with rhodium detailing, yellow gold and rose gold.

 

Micro Pave Diamond Eternity Rings

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

You can create a number of different looks with these diamond stacking rings. Create a statement ring by stacking five or six together. Or, provide a little sparkle to any finger by wearing a single.

 

Micro Pave Diamond Eternity Rings

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Annabelle Fleur, Viva Luxury and Blair Eadie, Atlantic – Pacific, are two of our favorite fashion bloggers that also favor these trends. I love Annabelle’s ability to mix, stack, and layer jewelry. Her looks are always cohesive and polished.

 

 

Antique Enamel Flower Ring

 

Annabelle, Viva Luxury

 

 

Eadie Blair, Director at Tory Burch by day, and Fashion blogger by night, has the enviable ability to create looks that are fashion mag worthy, but not staged or over-styled.

 

Antique Enamel Flower Ring

 

Atlantic-Pacific

 

The color you pick for your nails can also make your jewelry pop! There are so many great options out there that sometimes I find it hard to choose.

 

Blue is a great pick for summer. It looks fresh, and of course it always pairs well with diamonds. Two of our favorites, periwinkle and deep violet, look great on a variety of skin tones and colors. From Essie: Lapiz of Luxury and No More Film.

 

Blue Nail Polish from Essie

 

Essie

 

07 / 19

 

ANTIQUE ENAMEL FLOWER JEWELRY

Antique Enamel Flower Ring

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

Just a month or two ago, I came across an old article about jeweled orchid brooches made by Tiffany & Co. for the Exposition Universelle in Paris 1889. They were designed by Paulding Farnham to represent 24 actual orchid species.

 

They looked so realistic that several people thought they were real. According to Sotheyby’s, a Jeweler’s Weekly article from June of 1889 described the phenomenon: “so perfectly copied after nature as to inspire unqualified admiration … to deceive the observer into a belief that real flowers have been placed in the showcases with the jewelry.” Farnham won the gold medal in jewelry for Tiffany, and catapulted his reputation and career.

 

TIFFANY’S ORCHID BROOCHES

 

Just like the orchid themselves, these jeweled, enamel over gold brooches and hair ornaments, were created in a range of colors from the palest of pastels to the most deeply saturated of jewel tones. Since each orchid represented a different orchid species, each had a unique color scheme.

 

Visions of sugar plums, or rather delicate candy-colored flowers, began to dance in my head. Unfortunately, Tiffany’s orchids are hard to find and command steep prices at auction. A lemon yellow, chartreuse, orange, and cream colored example sold last year at Sotheby’s for $173,00, 44% over the high estimate.

 

HAND CANDY

 

I knew I wanted to have an enameled flower ring for Sugar et Cie and modern day versions just didn’t fit with my vision. They were either too shiny (the antique ones I favor have a velvety matte finish). Or they looked like they belonged on a greeting card instead of freshly plucked from a garden.

 

Antique Enamel Flower Ring

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

As it turns out, enameled pansies and violets from the Victorian and Edwardian period were the answer. More plentiful (made by a variety of jewelers from the period), less elaborate, and less expensive than the Tiffany’s gem, they make the perfect flower for the finger. The only downside is that the more unusual the color and the better the condition, the harder they are too find (and the higher the price).

 

This wild violet (circa 1910) in enamel over 14 Kt., flower ring is the first in what I hope is a series for Sugar et Cie.

 

Antique Enamel Flower Ring

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

… more to come in our second installment on Tuesday, so check back!

06 / 10

 

VICTORIAN DIAMOND STAR BROOCH: A LUST HAVE!

 

We just got back from a buying trip and picked-up a lot of great things which you will be seeing on our site this week and next. One item in particular has been on our must have list for a while: an antique star brooch set with old mine cut diamonds in silver over gold from the Victorian Period. 

Antique Diamond Star Brooch

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

 

A Close-Up of Old Mine Cut Diamonds

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

ROYAL TRENDSETTERS

 

The minute I saw this portrait of Empress Elisabeth (“Sisi”) of Austria (1837-1898) wearing diamond stars pinned into her hair, I was hooked.

 

Empress Elisabeth of Austria bry Franz Xaver Winterhalter

 

Attributed to Franz Xaver Winterhalter (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

 

According to the Schloss Schönbrunn palace and the Sisi Museum, the Empress commissioned Rozet & Fischmeister and other court jewelers to have multiple stars made. Some were 8 points, some were 10 points, and some had a pearl at the center.

 

Empress Elisabeth was not the only royal to favor wearing diamond stars. Queen Alexandra of England (1844-1925) had a set. There are numerous pictures of her wearing her stars pinned across the bodice of her dress. Just like Sisi, she was also a royal fashion trend-setter. Everything she did and wore was copied by society’s elite. The collier de chien (multiple strands of pearls and diamonds in the form of a collar necklace) is still associated with Alexandra to this day.

 

HAIR JEWELS ARE HAVING A MOMENT – OKAY, MAYBE MORE THAN A MOMENT

 

Once worn only for special events (wedding e.g. bridal jewelry), you can now find more and more women with a bit of sparkle in their hair. It’s hard to pick up a copy of Vogue, ELLE, Lucky, etc. and not find a feature or story about something jeweled for one’s tresses.

 

Believe it or not jeweled hair pins can be worn with jeans and a Tee, think a single tiny diamond star pin. Or with a cocktail dress: try two Art Deco Diamond Barrettes just above the ear to pull back your waves (e.g. channeling Veronica Lake). It’s all in how you style it. The below is from backstage at Valentino…

 

Antique Diamond Star Brooch

 

Valentino Show Autumn/Winter 2011-12, courtesy of Vogue

 

For more ideas, take a look at our Pinterest Board: She Had Diamonds on the Crown of Her Head, peruse our website for diamond barrettes, or ask us if we can convert one of our vintage or antique brooches to a barrette.

 

04 / 02

 

THE LOOK OF LOVE

 

Maybe the “Look of Love, Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection” can help answer the question. Written by by Graham C. Boettcher, Elle Shushan, and Jo Manning, it is part exhibition catalog and part romantic tale.

 

Not to be confused with the “Evil Eye” or “Tiger’s Eye”, or any other “Eye” jewelry, a Lover’s Eye is a miniature portrait of a loved one’s eye set into a piece of jewelry: brooch, ring, locket, pendent, stick-pin etc.

A picture of the book

I have purchased it for my collection (see pictures of the book purchased from the Birmingham Museum of Art, above and below) and can personally recommend it. If you are a collector of antique jewelry or books on antique jewelry, the 97 color images justify the investment. It is a great reference book for your collection or library. The book also includes a well-researched account of the origin and history of the eye-miniature, a chapter on the language of sentiment expressed through gemstones, and six very entertaining short stories inspired by various Lover’s Eyes. At this time, the book is currently available through the The Winterthur Museum Bookstore, the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Bookstore, and on Amazon.

ROYAL TRENDSETTERS AND EYE MINIATURES

 

Lover’s eye jewelry was supposedly popularized by King George the IV (at that time, the Prince of Wales). He had one of his favorite artists of the day, paint his eye hoping to use it as a romantic gesture to win over the woman who had previously rebuffed him. He had the miniature portrait set into a locket and shipped it off, hoping to persuade her (Maria Fitzherbert) to marry him. As the story goes, the gift, or the letter that went with it worked and she eventually gave in. They married in secrecy, due to the King’s (George III) disapproval, in December of 1785.

 

SENTIMENTAL JEWELRY

 

The Lover’s Eye is merely a single chapter, lasting only 50 years (1780 – 1830), in the voluminous novel of Sentimental Jewelry of the 18th and 19th century. Not many were created to begin with, they were often painted on delicate mediums (e.g. ivory), and the ones that still exist are now approaching or have past the bicentennial mark. All reasons why these miniature works of art are relatively scarce and tend to command a pretty penny when they come to market. If you are a fan of Sentimental Jewelry, check back, as will be sharing more on this topic in our next blog.