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Antique and Vintage Sterling Silver Ring Boxes: How Old Are They?
03 / 27

 

THE TRADITION

 

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 2014

 

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 2014

 

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 2014

 

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 2014

 

A LITTLE HISTORY

 

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 2014

 

RYRIE, ELLIS BROS. & BIRKS

 

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

 

JEWELRY AND NAIL COLOR: FAVORITE PAIRINGS

 

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

 

OUR ITEM OF THE WEEK: ANTIQUE GOLD BYPASS BANGLE

 

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.

 

DEBORAH LIPPMANN’S GLITTER COLLECTION

 

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

 

HOME DECOR

 

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

 

DOGS OF LONDON

 

 

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

 

 

12 / 17

 

ITEM OF THE WEEK: ANTIQUE VICTORIAN GOLD BUCKLE RING, HALLMARKED

 

This is a hand engraved (star in lozenge) and hand-carved (plumes) gold band ring with a buckle motif from the Victorian period. We’ve been looking for the perfect gold buckle ring for stacking and this one checks all the boxes.

 

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

The buckle motif has been popular throughout jewelry history. It was popular during the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian periods (the design of the buckle changing with style and time).

 

Victorian life was filled with symbolism and jewelry was no exception. A buckle symbolized fidelity in love, or loyalty in friendship, through the joining of the two pieces. When the buckle wraps around a finger, like the serpent or snake, it can be interpreted as a symbol of eternal love (an unending circle or bond).

 

From our latest buying trip in London, this buckle ring would make a great stacking ring or wedding band.

 

 

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

SHOPPING IN LONDON: MUST HAVE AND LUST HAVES

 

I couldn’t leave Knotting Hill without checking out some of the vintage fashion boutiques and a few of the home design stores. Specifically on my list was Jane Bourvis (located on 89 Golborne Road, London). Known for her antique and vintage wedding dresses and accessories, she also has a selection of vintage and reproduction skirts and dresses. Brides come from all over, making appointments to carefully select one of her designs, or a one-of-a-kind vintage or antique dress.

 

For me, the inside of her boutique was like being in a candy store: lots of lovely tulle, lace, feathers, and silk. I tried on a few of her tulle skirts. I really liked the one below, a vintage black tulle skirt with gold embroidered flowers (1940′s/50′s). I would wear it over a pair of leggings and boots for winter days and perhaps over a black slip for evening.

 

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

 

 

Tulle for Winter


 

 

 

For details on any of the above, see Sugar et Cie on Polyvore.

 

Next stop, a stroll along Bond and New Bond street to see the latest from Mappin & Webb (dating back to 1775) and Bentley & Skinner (est. 1880). My favorite was this necklace/choker from Bentley and Skinner.

 

 

 

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

A modern piece in the vintage spirit made to represent the night sky. It is exquisite in-person, made by hand, and with more diamonds than I wanted to count. Each diamond is bezel set (millegrain edge) on a velvet ribbon in midnight-sky blue.

 

Part III, Friday: Home Decor and the Dogs of London…

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 of 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 rings, 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 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 late on a 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 and berry colored row houses on Portobello.

 

Colorful Row Houses Portobello Road

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2014

 

SWEET TREATS

 

I had to stop 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. Depending upon the material/medium it ranges in shades from a robin’s egg blue to a turquoise blue-green to a pale mint 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 scones with the traditional 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!