Sugar et Cie Logo
Antique Paste Jewelry, Part 1: 3 Myth Busters
02 / 26


Myth 1 – Antique Paste Jewelry is Costume Jewelry


It is true that paste is glass, but paste jewelry and rhinestone jewelry are two very different things. Paste is typically a term applied to a leaded glass that was created and used in jewelry in the 18th and 19th centuries in new and exciting ways. In the 18th century it was a considered a jewelry category and art form of its own. Paste was often set into precious metal such as sterling silver with decorative components in gold, and occasionally steel (more expensive than silver at this time) which was sometimes preferred for its strength in brooch fittings are buckle tines.


Available in our Bridal Dress & Sash Pins Collection – Antique: Georgian Paste Buckle in Silver with White Gold Brooch Fittings


A 19tch century paste brooch

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013


Many factors impact the value of paste jewelry, but those that are genuine and of fine workmanship can run from several hundred dollars to many thousands, depending up on the piece. It is not uncommon for antique dealers to also sell paste jewelry right along side their finer pieces.


Myth 2 – Paste is a Diamond Substitute


You will see many sources state that fine paste jewelry, especially those pieces made in the 1700’s are not just imitations of diamonds. What you won’t necessarily see is why. To produce a mass of gleaming and sparkling stones was very much desired at the time. Keep in mind that techniques like the invisible settings patented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933 had not yet been developed.


M.D.S. Lewis explains it well in his book, Antique Paste Jewellery. “Extreme hardness and high cost make their (diamonds) cutting uneconomical except in conventional forms such as rounds ovals and oblongs. However closely these are set together, metallic gaps will appear between one stone and the next. On the other hand, pastes are soft and easily cut to any informal shape so that each stone can fit accurately by its neighbor and leave little intervening metal. This however requires an even higher degree of setting skill than normal diamond work.”


Paste, like anything of value, has been reproduced in vast numbers. Sometimes they are made to look like the original so it does take some experience to know what to look for. We’ll share more on this topic in a later part of our series.


Myth 3 – Paste is Something My Grandmother Would Wear


While some paste pieces are very ornate and may not fit well with modern aesthetics, there are many pieces that do. Paste rivières and cushion cut, collet-set, drop earrings (in sizes that would approximate a 3 or 4 carat diamond) for example, look amazing with white t-shirts, menswear inspired button-downs, and black cocktail dresses. It seems that the Queen of Fashion herself, Anna Wintour, purportedly wears paste rivières from S.J. Phillips Ltd. (London). She even wrote the forward to the catalogue/book that detailed their exhibit of paste jewelry in 2010. As with many fashion and jewelry trends, desire can often heat up or cool off almost overnight. And while it seems that paste jewelry has always been in demand, right now its flame is burning white hot.


We will be debuting a new item, in the next couple of weeks that mixes the beautiful sparkle of antique paste with the modern and colorful, so check back soon!

02 / 21


You might be surprised to find that the well-dressed man in Victorian England, would walk out the door wearing multiple pieces of jewelry: cufflinks, a signet ring, a tie pin or a stick pin, and an Albert watch chain. The watch chain at the center of the ensemble, provided the opportunity to hang additional decorative objects. It was the definition of menswear chic for a good portion of the 19th century.


Menswear Chic



Some Background on the Albert Watch Chain


The watch chain, became the Albert chain named for Prince Albert (1819-1861) who wore them often. He and Queen Victoria were considered to be the fashion trendsetters of their day. Any component of fashion (style, color, structure, or material) adopted by the pair resulted in widespread imitation.


The Albert watch chain can be found in single and double versions. The single has one swivel clip, often called a dog clip, and a T-bar which sometimes has an additional chain to which decorative items could be attached. The T-bar was inserted into the button hole to secure the chain and watch as a safeguard.


The double has two dog clips, with a T-bar in the center. There is a watch on one end and sometimes a Vesta (silver or gold match case with a match strike built into the bottom), or decorative/functional item on the other such as a watch fob seal, watch key, compass or sovereign coin case. If you are curious to see how they were originally worn, the following shows Prince Albert wearing one attached to his waistcoat: portrait photograph of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales from the Royal Trust Collection.


Albert Watch Chain as Necklace


We carefully select the antique watch chains that we choose for our collection. We look for ones from 19th or very early 20th century in sterling silver or gold. And, we also look take into consideration the condition, hallmarks, length, and the pattern of the links.


While doing research on watch chains we discovered that the jewelry trend of wearing a watch chain necklace is not new. When soldiers left home for the battlefields of WWI, they left their pocket watches and watch chains behind with their girlfriends and wives. Women would wear them around their necks to keep them safe and close to the heart. Pocket watches began to fade from use as wrist watches, more practical in the trenches, became the standard.


Menswear Chic




Menswear Chic



Available in our Victoriana Collection – Antique: Victorian Sterling Silver Necklace with Graduated Links (Double Albert Chain)


An antique Albert watch chain with watch fob medallion

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013



Available in our Victoriana Collection – Antique: Sterling Silver, Double Albert Watch Chain and Vesta Case


A sterling silver antique Albert watch chain with a vesta

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013


Menswear chic also seems to be a trend that repeats itself. We think the key to creating a current and feminine menswear inspired look is to choose a fitted silhouette, and of course great accessories! We’ve chosen a slim-fit white silk shirt, a pair of black trousers, black and white spectator, t-strap, platforms and a great belt. A pair of low-rise, cigarette pants would also look great. The open v-neckline provides the perfect backdrop for an Albert watch chain necklace. Wear one, for a more classic look. Layer two or three of varying lengths and patterns to add a bit of edge.




Albert Watch Chain Necklaces (clockwise from top right)

As pictured: Antique – Sterling Silver, Double Albert Watch Chain and Vesta Case, by Sugar et Cie

As pictured: Antique – Victorian Sterling Silver Necklace with Graduated Links (Double Albert Chain), by Sugar et Cie

As pictured: Antique – Edwardian Rose Gold, Twist Link, Albert Watch Chain Necklace, by Sugar et Cie




Black & White Look

As pictured: Eva White Silk Shirt & Max C Tailor Pant, both by Theory

Equestrian Look

As pictured: Stretch Poplin Shirt and Hudson Twill Jodhpur, both Blue Label, Ralph Lauren




As pictured: Dallas Spectator, Lauren, Ralph Lauren

As pictured: Liya Pump, by Alexander Wang




As pictured: Genuine Lizard Skinny Belt in Natural, by Coco & Coco

As pictured: Reversible Leather Belt, Lauren, Ralph Lauren

02 / 16


Stacking Bangles


Stacking bracelets seems to be one of those trends that never really fades. In fact, during the Victorian period, women would wear multiple bangles on both arms. Maybe we wouldn’t go that far, but we do love to pile on these delicate Victorian bangles set with rubies, diamonds, pearls, and sapphires. They seem to go so well with so many different looks.


The workmanship and details are what make these Victorian gold bangles unique. You are unlikely to find details like the engraved scrolling pattern that covers the top and bottom edge of the sapphire and diamond bracelet on a modern piece. You can tell that the stars and squares in both the ruby and diamond and the sapphire and diamond bracelets are hand carved and one of a kind because each one is slightly different. We especially love the fact that from the side, the center of the rose gold, seed pearl, and diamond bangle looks like the top of a royal scepter or a crown. The gypsy set bangles (the ones in the picture below with the stars and squares) especially lend themselves to stacking, as the stones are set flush to the surface of the gold.


Antique: Victorian Rose Gold, Diamond & Seed Pearl Bangle Bracelet


A Victorian Rose Gold Diamond and Seed Pearl Bangle

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013


These bangles are really versatile. You can wear one by itself, mix them with the bangles and bracelets you already have, or buy several to make your own stack.


Below we have paired several of our jeweled, gold bangles from our Victoriana Collection with skinny jeans, a leather peplum tank (a new trend for spring) from Tibi, a leather jacket from AllSaints and touch of red from Burberry in the form of their red stiletto studded bow sandals.


Make sure you check out the links below. We have included some great alternatives to many of the items pictured.


How do you like to stack your bracelets and bangles? Share with us and post a picture.



Stack 'Em Up




Bangle Bracelets

As pictured: Antique: Victorian Ruby and Diamond Carved Star Gold Bangle Bracelet, by Sugar et Cie

As pictured: Antique: Victorian Rose Gold, Diamond & Seed Pearl Bangle Bracelet, by Sugar et Cie

As pictured: Antique: Victorian Sapphire & Diamond Gold Bangle, by Sugar et Cie

As pictured: Antique: Victorian Gold & Pearl “Half Hoop” Bangle Bracelet, by Sugar et Cie




Leather Jacket

As pictured: Pitch Leather Biker Jacket, by AllSaints

Alternative: Biker Leather Jacket with Buckles, by Zara


Skinny Jeans

As pictured: Molotov Kenta Jeans, by AllSaints

Alternative: Low Rise Demi Curve Skinny Jeans in Celestial, by Levi


Leather Top

As pictured: Leather Sleeveless Yoked Top (in black also comes in white and Tan), by Tibbi

Alternative (Vegan): Vegan Leather Peplum Top (Black), by Tinley Road




Strappy Sandals

As pictured: Metallic Leather Studded Bow Sandals (Metallic Cadmium Red), by Burberry





As pictured: Britannia Skull Box Clutch, by Alexander McQueen

Alternative: Prisma Flat Pouch, by Alexander Wang




Lipstick & Lip Gloss

As pictured: Semi Matte Lipstick in Red Lizard, by Nars

As pictured: Larger than Life Lip Gloss, Bleecker, by Nars

02 / 10


It’s great to find versatile pieces of jewelry that work well with either jeans and a t-shirt or a little black dress. We’ve selected a snake armlet and a pair of rose gold and onyx cameo earrings, and paired them with both a day look and evening look to show you how you can take your jewelry from day to night. They also happen look great with one of the trends that’s big for spring 2013: black and white. Many of the fashion houses, Proenza Schouler, Calvin Klein, Narcisco Rodriguez, in addition to others, had multiple black and white looks on their runways.


These pieces also reflect jewelry trends that were big in 2012 and that show strong indications of continuing on past 2013: snake jewelry and rose gold.


Day to Night Jewelry




As pictured: Antique & Modern: Onyx Cameo Drop Earrings In A Rose Gold Surround, The “Greek Warriors” by Sugar et Cie

As pictured: Vintage: Snake Bangle in 9ct Gold, Circa 1920’s – the “Cleopatra Armlet,” by Sugar et Cie




White T-shirt

As pictured: White Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Cotton T-Shirt, by James Pearse

Alternative: Perfect Fit Long-Sleeve V-Neck Tee, by J. Crew


Black Jeans

As pictured: Stilt Low Rise Skinny Jean (charcoal grey wash), by AG

Alternative: Toothpick Jean in Pitch Black Wash, by J. Crew


Black Dress

As pictured: Wool and Jersey Sleeveless Belt Dress, by Gucci

Alternative: Leather Trimmed Black Dress, by Bailey 44





As pictured, short boots: ACNE Cypress Con Solid Black, by ACNE

As pictured, tall boots: Black Boots, by Maripé

Alternative: Shirley Strappy Riding Boot, by the Frye Boot Company



As pictured, pumps: Saint Laurent Paris Tripple Strap Shoes, by Yves Saint Laurent

As pictured, ankle boots: Dyptic, by Christian Louboutin

Alternative: Customize your own heels (e.g. black snakeskin, 4 1/2 inch, strappy sandals). Shoes of Prey has endless leathers, heel heights, and options to allow you to design your own perfect heels.




Nail polish

As pictured (from left to right): Nail Polish, A Glamorous Life, by Deborah Lippmann

As pictured: Nail Polish, Orgasm, by Nars

As pictured: Nail Polish, Diamonds and Pearls, by Deborah Lippmann



As pictured: Outrageous Prisma Chrome Metallic Eyeshadow in Color Metallic Beige #1, by Sephora Collection



As pictured: The Rouge Homage Lipstick, in Goldeneye, by Kevyn Aucoin Beauty


02 / 04


In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share a few of the ways that jewelry or unusual tokens of love (from the Georgian and Victorian periods) have been used to convey the romantic feelings of the gift giver. Do your friends a favor, and send this post on to the men in their lives or send it on, as a subtle hint, to your own significant other.


The Danish Hovedvandsæg or Vinaigrette


The one pictured is heart-shaped, one of a kind, and perfect for Valentine’s Day. It is available through our boutique, Sugar et Cie in our Victoriana Collection:

An antique heart shaped vinaigrette with a crown on the top

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013


Presenting a Hovedvandsæg was a Danish engagement tradition in the 18th and 19th centuries. A Hovedvandsæg or vinaigrette (more on vinaigrettes in our glossary) was presented to a woman by her intended.


Lover’s Eye


You are likely to find next tradition either a little creepy or conversely, insanely romantic.


Most sources site King George the IV (at the time the Prince of Wales) as the originator of this trend. He had a popular artist 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 it set it 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 disapproval) in December of 1785.


A portrait of a beloved’s or lover’s eye allowed people to display these tokens of love openly, but still with secrecy as it was often difficult to determine the subject’s identity by just one eye. These miniature eye portraits are found embedded into a variety of pieces of jewelry, however they are most commonly part of a pendant or a brooch. They can also be found in rings and other decorative pieces. They range from the very plain to the very elaborate (set into precious metal and surrounded by gems).


Because this trend lasted a relatively short time (approximately 30 years), they are considered rare. The Lover’s eye shown in The New York Time’s Art & Design Section online (February 2012): is truly beautiful: the vibrant blue-eye set against the pale skin in a teardrop setting of gold is surrounded by pearls (a symbol for tears). Around the same time last year, an entire exhibit “The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from The Skier Collection” opened at the Birmingham Museum of Art. The catalogue of the exhibit, with the same name can still be found in hardcover online at Amazon.


A Snake as a Token of Love?


Another pair of trendsetters, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, kick-started this unusual tradition: the snake ring as an engagement ring. Upon their engagement, Prince Albert presented Queen Victoria with a coiled gold serpent ring set with emeralds. Depending upon the style of the snake it could either mean strength and wisdom or love.


While the snake ring is no longer associated with an engagement, it’s romantic history makes it a great gift for Valentine’s Day. Here are a few from our current Serpent Collection, which can be found by visiting our boutique: Sugar et Cie.


antique gold and diamond snake ring

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013