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Mrs. Stanford’s Jewels: A Spectacular Collection of Victorian Jewelry
09 / 08




A little background…During the 19th century, Jane Lathrop Stanford, philanthropist and wife of Leland Stanford (attorney, Governor of California, Robber Baron, and founder of Stanford University), amassed an amazing collection of jewels.


Oil Painting Mrs. Stanford's Jewels


Photograph by Sugar et Cie of work by Astley D.M. Cooper “Mrs. Stanford Jewels,” Cantor Museum at Stanford University


After arranging her jewelry on red velvet in order to photograph and catalog her collection, Mrs. Stanford decided that she really liked the look of the photograph. She decided to commission, local artist, D.M. Cooper to create an oil painting of the collection (c. 1898).


It’s currently part of a small exhibition of Astley D.M. Cooper’s work on display at Stanford University’s Cantor Museum through November 16, 2015. Always looking for examples of 18th and 19th century jewels, I went down to take a look. The painting is visually stunning, but to me it is most interesting as a piece of design history.


My only wish is that Cooper had painted the jewels in greater detail. One reason for this might be that he painted the final touches from memory. Cooper, a drinker and lover of life, became irritated with Stanford’s demands for formal dress and temperance. “Irked by her pretensions, Cooper stormed out of the Stanford mansion before completing his work.” (A Painter Comes Home, Geoffry Dunn, Metro, March 7-16) The painting was finished later, in the peace, in his studio.


Close up view of a portion of the oil painting Mrs. Stanford's Jewels showing a six strand pearl necklace and other pieces of jewelry


Photograph by Sugar et Cie of work by Astley D.M. Cooper “Mrs. Stanford Jewels,” Cantor Museum at Stanford University





I happened to find the following information regarding Mrs. Stanford’s collection in “Bejewelled by Tiffany,” (Clare Phillips). It might give you some insight into the quality of her collection. The Stanford name can be found multiple times in Tiffany & Co.’s surviving ledgers from the 1870’s and 1880’s. Her collection is also purported to include pieces from the Queen of Spain (Isabella II)’s collection.


Stanford’s collection includes many classic 19th century pieces, the kind you might see in the Victoria & Albert museum in London or at the Met in New York: bangle bracelets, a diamond arrow brooch, a diamond studded pocket watch, cameos, parures, jeweled hair combs, portrait brooches….


A close-up of Astley, D.M. Cooper's Jane Stanford's Jewels


Photograph by Sugar et Cie of work by Astley D.M. Cooper “Mrs. Stanford Jewels,” Cantor Museum at Stanford University




Within the Cantor Museum, there were surprisingly few portraits of Mrs. Stanford wearing her jewels (especially ones including the details that I love). This was perhaps the best: Jane Lathrop Stanford, 1881, by Léon-Joseph-Florentin Bonnat (France) oil on canvas, Stanford Family Collection. The detail of the jewelry is not completely clear, but no one can mistake the lovely (and large) sapphire ring that she’s wearing on her index finger.


Close up of a portrait of Jane Stanford showing her jewelry


Photograph by Sugar et Cie of work by Léon-Joseph-Florentin Bonnat “Jane Lathrop Stanford,” Cantor Museum at Stanford University


Although it is well-documented, I’m not sure that today it is commonly known that Stanford University struggled financially after Leland Stanford’s death. Mrs. Stanford worked tirelessly to ensure its financial stability.




Jane Stanford traveled to London during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in order to find a buyer for her jewelry collection, but was not successful. In her will, Mrs. Stanford provided for her collection to be sold and for the proceeds to fund museum acquisitions. According to the Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 1, 1906, “The world famous collection of precious stones and jewelry, the property of the late Mrs. Jane Stanford, will be sold by the Trustees of the Leland Stanford Jr. University Association as soon as possible… Many offers from leading Eastern jewelers are already on file…”



06 / 08





antique garnet cluster ring


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015


Last year was the 20th anniversary of Chanel’s Vamp Nail Polish. It seemed that no one really made a fuss. There was no new version, no relaunch or 20th anniversary edition. As a lover of Vamp and all things Vamp colored, all I can say is – Big mistake Chanel!


The color launched in 1994, was made famous by Uma Thuman in pulp Fiction and Madonna in her music video, Take A Bow. By 1995, it was almost impossible to get your hands a bottle. It has been continuously knocked off ever since. It has quietly become, should I say it out loud? …A timeless classic.


Why is its appeal so everlasting? Maybe it’s not for everybody, but it is hard to resist its rich, deep, black-red color. It conjures up thoughts of so many lovely, mouthwatering things: The deep rich red of Cabernet, the purple-red of ripe summer blackberries and cherries, and another fashion favorite – LV’s Vernis in Amarante.



things that are the color of Vamp by Chanel


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015



things that are the color of Vamp by Chanel


Elie Saab Fall/Winter 2014




It is also the inspiration for our jewel of the week, an Antique Garnet Cluster Statement Ring.


Previously a brooch (circa 1880/90), now in its second incarnation as a ring, it is comprised of concentric layers of rose cut garnets in round and pear shapes. Like most garnet jewelry from this period the cluster is set in what is called garnet gold, sterling silver or other base metal washed with gold. The gallery and band are made of solid 14 Kt rose gold, a weighty 9.3 grams.


Wear it as a cocktail ring on its own or add another cluster ring in a contrasting color: hot pink sapphires, diamonds, orange fire opals.


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015




Liberty School Winery

Guide to picking blackberries, SFgate

Cassis Pearls

Oscar Tiye Shoes featured on Kayture

Chanel Vamp Nail Polish

Another favorite: Wicked by Essie

03 / 27




From the late 1800’s into the mid 20th century, when an engagement ring was purchased at a luxury jewelry store, a sterling silver ring box was included. Unfortunately, Tiffany’s, Birks, and others no longer offer this option. Your diamond ring is now most likely to be presented in a velvet or leather box, which of course is still nice. But somehow, its not quite the same as a velvet or silk lined sterling silver ring box that screams out – HEIRLOOM.


Why have these ring boxes become so highly sought after? Perhaps its the fact that silver can be engraved with initials or a special date or that as the styles changed (from time-to-time and by price point of the ring) they inspired collectors. Whatever the reason, women love these pretty sterling silver objects and men know their wife-to-be will appreciate having a special antique or vintage box to go with that special antique or vintage engagement ring. 


vintage sterling silver ring box


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015


These boxes are a special way to display, store, or present a special ring (Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary) and we are always on the look out for ones to add to our online boutique. And of course, like many of you, like to know as much as we can about the details of the antiques that we buy. And as always, we are happy to share with those that are interested.


vintage sterling silver ring box


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015


Over the years we have come across a few from the U.S., some from England, but the majority of the ones we have been interested in come from Canada. The English ones are relatively easy to research and date due to England’s system of hallmarking. Canadian ring boxes can be a bit trickier.


If you are interested in sterling silver rather than silver plate, just look for the mark that says sterling silver.


an example of a Canadian Sterling Silver Mark


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015


Dating them is a bit harder. You can’t simply look at the hallmarks, look for the city mark and then look up the date letter to determine the year the piece was made. It was this quest that led us to do some research on a few of the premier Canadian firms. You won’t be able to pin down the year, but you will in some cases have a better chance of identifying the period.


the inside of a vintage sterling silver ring box


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015




We have done a little research, tracing the histories of these firms, when they merged, when they changed their names and how their makers marks have changed over time. This, in conjunction, with the style of the box, the amount/type of wear, the materials used help us place determine the circa of the box.


Here is some of the information we compiled. It is a brief chronology (not an in depth study) that provides some clues via key dates in the history of these famous firms responsible for crafting these sterling silver gems.

vintage sterling silver ring box

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2015




Ryrie, Ellis Bros., and Birks were all premier jewelry companies in Canada during the 19th and 20th centuries. Birks is the only one that continues on today.


Birks or Henry (or Henri depending upon the reference) Birks & Sons was founded in 1879 by Henry Birks in Montreal. Ryrie was founded in 1879 by James Ryrie in Toronto (later becoming Ryrie Brothers in 1897). P.W. Ellis Jewellery Company was founded in 1872 by Philip William Ellis and brother Mathew C. Ellis in Torronto. It later became Ellis Bros. limited. The company is listed as PW Ellis & Co. Limited on a catalogue dated 1915/16 and Ellis Bros. Limited on a catalogue from 1922. While these dates do not point to the exact date of the name changes they are a good reference points, from primary sources, which you can use to when comparing the type of makers mark that is on your box (or piece of jewelry from these makers). Keep in mind that it is not an exact science and marks did not change overnight.


All three luxury jewelry companies have storied pasts that became intertwined during the first quarter of the 20th century.
Ryrie Bros. was an independent company until 1917 when it became part of Birks. It appears that fundamentally, Birks purchased Ryrie (some report it as an affiliation and others as an amalgamation). The Ryrie reputation must have been valuable, as the combined entity was then renamed with the Ryrie-Birks, with the Ryrie name in the first position.


Ellis Bros. also a successful jewelry business in Toronto. It was an independent jewelry company, acquiring others along the way until 1928, when the wholesale portion of the business folded. In 1933, the retail business was absorbed by Birks. This time the name was changed to Birks, Ellis, Ryrie, later becoming “just” Birks as it is known today.



01 / 08




Nail color is a great way to try out the latest trend, get in the mood for a new season, or compliment your latest jewelry acquisition. Below is one of our favorite pairings.


antique gold bangle and gold glitter polish from Deborah Lippmann, Cleopatra in New York


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014, and Courtesy of Deborah Lippmann




This pretty 14 ct gold bangle is a recent addition to our Victoriana collection and is available at Sugar et Cie. It is in the Etruscan Revival style from the Victorian period and is called a bypass bangle. You can see the lovely work in the details: the gold granulation, the fine wire work and the bloomed gold, all characteristics of the Etruscan Revival style.


We’ve paired this bangle with Deborah Lippmann’s Cleopatra in New York. It’s a black lacquer studded with gold which can be worn on its own or as a second coat over another color.


The bypass bangle has always been popular. The clean modern form of the body of the bangle is a nice contrast to the elaborate terminal on each end of the bracelet, which is similar in shape to a royal scepter.




I haven’t always been a fan of glitter nail polish, but Deborah Lippmann has won me over with her sophisticated palette of glitter nail lacquers. What makes them different? The glitter components are octagonal in shape and made up of small and large pieces. The effect is chic, almost bespoke and doesn’t look like my six year old niece gave me a manicure.


Deborah Lippmann glitter nail polish, Cleopatra in New York, Ruby Red Slippers, Boom Pow Pow


Not quite ready for a black-based lacquer? Try Lippmann’s Ruby Red slippers, Boom Pow Pow, or any of the 23 polishes in her glitter collection.


12 / 19




While on a recent buying trip in England, I found a few minutes to stop into a a handful of antique and home decor stores in London.


Chole Alberry, located on Portobello Road, specializes in beautiful hardware for the home. I love these crystal and glass treasures from Chloe Alberry, which specializes in interior hardware for the home (door knobs, cabinet knobs, mirrors, door plates, etc.).


Make your house sparkle with these door knobs that look diamonds as big as goose eggs…




© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014



I was captivated by this angel carved in stone, which I spotted in the back of an antique shop on Golborne Road (Knotting Hill).




© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014


One of my favorite finds was at an antiques market outside of London. These ceramic black and white topped containers come with the most interesting story. This is how apothecaries and purveyors of cosmetics used to package their goods prior to the invention of modern day packaging. Once the contents were gone, they were often thrown out.


These have been dug up in various areas outside London. I had to snatch up the ones that held rose cream, balms, and cherry flavored toothpaste, the maker of which supplied Queen Victoria. I love almost anything with a pretty black and white pattern. They’re perfect to create a black and white vignette for your bedside table or your vanity (stash your rings, earrings, cotton balls, or bath salts).


© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014


The one on the right is from Atkinsons (London 1799) the famous parfumerie, still in existence, and that has a perfume line named after 24 Old Bond Street. Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Nelson, Lady Hamilton, Prince Tomasi di lampedusa, Queen Margherita di Savoia, and the Tsarina of Russia, were all customers.


If you are interested in these antique ceramic containers, let us know and we’d be happy to check on availability and pricing with our contact in London.


Pair it with a black and white tray like this one below from Belissimo:




Courtesy of Belissimo





I couldn’t end this series without including a bit of cute factor. Londoners love their dogs as much as we do. I am a huge fan of terriers, especially Airedales, and couldn’t resist taking these pictures.


Charlie the Airedale, Knotting Hill:



© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014


Prudence Periwinkle, Portobello Road:



© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014


Charlie Girl the Welsh Terrier, Shepperton:



© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014



We found this antique print of hunting dogs along with a few other incredible dog prints at a stall on Portobello Road. The detail of the print is amazing (you can see the individual hairs that make up the dog’s coat). Each was hand-colored. From Saint James’s Court, Fine Art Dealers, London.



© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014