Sugar et Cie Logo
Lover’s Eye (Jewelry), a Token of Love or a Strange Curiosity?
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.

 

 

06 / 21

 

Marie Antoinette’s Style Inspirations

 

Marie Antoinette, the Dauphine of France from 1770-74 and the Queen of France from 1774 until 1792, was a trendsetter as royals often were then, and some still are now (e.g. Kate Middleton). Princess Eugenie, Napoleon’s wife and Empress of France (1853-70) almost one hundred years later, was somewhat obsessed with Marie Antoinette’s style. Eugenie collected items that belonged to her, commissioned diamond pins that were based upon Marie Antoinette’s dress ornaments and posed for a portrait in 18th century dress said to be similar to one of Marie Antoinette’s. The Empress was not alone. Other women in the 19th century were also enamored with her style and collected paste buckles, memorial rings, and lockets from her reign.(1)

 

We are still obsessed with the romance and the extravagance of Marie Antoinette’s style. Prices continue to soar for jewelry from the period as well as items purported to have been owned by her. Last year a pair of her white silk mules, adorned with tri-colored silk ribbon, sold for $57,000 at auction in Toulon, France.

 

Below is a collection of evening shoes inspired by her style. They include actual examples of 18th century evening slippers, a few from French designers circa 1950/60 (Roger Vivier for Dior), and a handful from current designers that we think represent the spirit of her style: studded with “strass”, woven with lace, and adorned with silk flowers.

 

 

Style Cues: Marie Antoinette

 

 

Item of the Week: Paste Buckle Cuff in Versailles Blue

 

We’ve created a modern collection that incorporates the beautiful workmanship and sparkle of the 18th and 19th century paste shoe buckle and the color and luxury of Alligator. The latest addition to our Spun Sugar Bracelet collection is the Antique & Modern: Georgian Paste Buckle and Alligator Cuff Bracelet in Versailles Blue. Keep reading and we think you’ll see the connection.

Georgian Paste Buckle on Alligator Cuff

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

 

Marie Antoinette’s Style Portrayed via Film

 

The most recent incarnation of Marie Antoinette by Hollywood was in 2006, directed by Sophia Coppola and staring Kirsten Dunst as the Dauphine. It is worth watching for the extravagant, candy-colored imagery alone. You can see why the film won the Academy Award for best costume design. Annie Leibovitz, in another feast for the eyes, captured a slightly edgier version of Kirsten as Marie Antoinette for Vogue, in September of the same year. It’s worth taking a minute to see the entire layout still available on their site.

 

 

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, September 2006

 

 

Items of the Week: Antique Paste Earrings and Vintage Diamond Rings

 

Marie Antoinette was not only famous for her style but also infamous for the amount of sparkle she managed to incorporate into her wardrobe. You may not know that she liked to mix her paste jewels in with her diamonds and other precious gems. She literally sparkled from her head, pinning paste pieces into her sky-high hair, to her toes (paste buckles on her shoes).

 

 

Antique Paste Earring on Blue Ribbon

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

 

Why not take a style cue from Marie Antoinette and mix antique paste and vintage diamonds? Wear our Antique: Double Collet-Set Antique Paste in Silver, Drop Earrings, with a stack of your favorite vintage diamond rings on your first finger. Browse through our Stacking Rings Collection.

 

 

Vogue Shoot by Annie Leibovitz Topic the film Marie Antoinette

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, September 2006

 

A Vintage Diamond Ring on a Candy Stick

 

 

 

Vintage Diamond Rings on a Candy Stick

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

 

Sources

(1) “Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria,” by Charlotte Gere, Judy Rudoe, The British Museum.

H1: Evening Shoes, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, House of Dior, 1957, Designer: Roger Vivier (French, 1913–1998).

H2: Slippers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1780–89, European, Medium: Silk.

H3: Slippers, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1720–39, France, Medium: Silk and Leather.

H4: Evening Shoes, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, House of Dior, 1960, Designer: Roger Vivier (French, 1913–1998).

C1: Flora, by Charlotte Olympia.

C2: Swan, by Manolo Blahnik at Barney’s.

C3: Embroidered Lace Point-Toe Halter Pump, by Rene Caovilla at Bergdorf Goodman.

C4: Pigalle Strass, by Christian Louboutin. CL appears to be a fan of the sparkle of paste – Strass is the French word which translates to paste, also associated with the jeweler that developed its reputation for quality in 18th c. France.

C5: Au Hameau, by Christian Louboutin. The silver is sold out, but a gold version is available at Barney’s. CL appears to also be a fan of Versailles/Marie Antoinette. Hameau de la Reine was built for her.

05 / 24

 

New Arrivals in the Spun Sugar collection at Sugar et Cie

 

We have three new Alligator Cuffs to share with you. The first two have antique paste buckles from the Georgian period which spans the rule of the four King Georges in England from 1714 to 1837.

 

Antique & Modern: Georgian Paste Buckle and Alligator Cuff in Raspberry Glaze

Antique Paste Buckle on Raspberry Pink Alligator Cuff

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

If you are new to paste from this period and are wondering why something it is so sought after, here are just a couple of the reasons from a long list.

 

Rarity: By definition, pieces from this period are at least 176 years old. Over time they get damaged or are disassembled into smaller pieces, resulting in fewer available pieces every year that goes by.

 

Art Form: Jewelers/craftsman that created pieces of paste jewelry felt they were creating art, not a simulation of something more valuable. They were able to cut the stones into shapes that diamond cutters could not achieve at the time due to technical and financial factors. They took pride in their work and while not all pieces from this period are art, if you know what to look for you can find quality pieces. Who doesn’t want to wear something of quality and beauty?

 

Antique & Modern: Georgian Paste Buckle and Alligator Cuff Bracelet in Denim Blue Glaze

Georgian Paste Buckle on Denim Blue Alligator Cuff

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

The third piece is from a later date, most likely the 1920’s. It has a geometric design that was popular during the Art Deco period, significantly different than the jewelry designs popular during period preceding it – the Edwardian period.

 

Antique & Modern: Paste Buckle and Alligator Cuff Bracelet in Blush Glaze

Blush Pink Alligator Cuff

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

Jewelry from the Edwardian period utilized diamonds and pale colored gemstones rather than diamonds and the bold colors of rubies, emeralds, sapphires, onyx, etc. often the focal point in Art deco jewelry. Edwardian jewelry was feminine, light, and delicate, featuring motifs such as garlands, wreaths, and flowers again differing from the angular lines and geometric shapes of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

 

If you’d like to see some interesting pieces from the Art Deco Period, visit Christie’s and take a look at the sale “The Doris Duke Collection of Important Jewelry,” from 2004, especially the the diamond hair slides in the shape of crescent moons by Cartier circa 1930’s.

05 / 17

 

Our Item of the Week

 

This week our featured item is this eye catching, Georgian Paste buckle in the form of a stylized lovers’ knot on an alligator skin cuff in a deep pomegranate glaze. So many delicious things come in this shade, among our favorites are pomegranate and blueberry pate de fruit, Louis Vuitton’s Alma bags in Rouge Fauviste and Amarante, Chanel nail polish in Provocation (the newer version of Vamp), and the list goes on.

 

Delicious Pomegranate - Alligator Cuff Bracelet in Pomegranate

 

Item 5 – More About the Buckle

 

The buckle is antique, from the Georgian period. It is paste set in silver with steel buckle tines. The pastes have black dots at the base of the stones, which is one of the characteristics of pieces from this period. Each paste has been hand shaped so the stones fit closely together. This ensures that the only thing the eye sees is a flowing, uninterrupted glittering expanse which provides a great contrast to this deep and rich color.

 

 

Alligator Cuff and Antique Paste Buckle

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

 

The Lovers’ Knot

 

A lover’s knot is a symbol of love that was often used in jewelry from the Georgian and Victorian periods. It represented two people intertwined, “an emblem of true love without an end.” This quote is from the other lover’s knot, called the True Lover’s Knot, which is a love note comprised of an intricate hand drawn maze. When read in different directions or patterns, it yields different message of love. Here’s an example a true Lovers Knot.

 

Find the Items Pictured Above

 

1: Louis Vuitton Alma (and Alma BB) Bags in Rouge Fauviste and Amarante, the ones pictured are from ebay listings as of today, but they are also currently available at Louis Vuitton’s online boutique.

2: Cartier Tutti Frutti Bracelet 1930’s not currently available – from Sotheby’s April Auction of Magnificent Jewels

3: Chanel’s Le Vernis Nail Colour in Provocation available at Nordstrom’s

4: Ladurée Macarons in raspberry. Image from thusbeautiful.blogspot.com. It’s not possible to purchase them online, but I believe if you call the New York store they will ship them to you.

5: Antique and Modern: Georgian Paste Buckle and Alligator Cuff in Pomegranate Glaze available at Sugar et Cie

6: Deborah Lippmann Nail Color JUST WALK AWAY RENEE available at Deborah Lippmann

7: diptyque candle in Tubéreuse Rouge available at diptyque paris

8: French Jellies Raspberry Pâte de Fruit the ones pictured are available at the etsy store, Zukrboutique.

Alternative: You can also purchase Pâte de Fruit from my favorite candy store in San Francisco: the candy store.

9: Roger Vivier Fall 2012 via Pinterest (Kathy Mills)

Alternative: Sebastian Milano Feather Puff Pump available at FarFetch

 

Note: At the time of publishing this post, all of the items were available or otherwise noted. As items sell out, they may be removed by the retailer resulting in a page not found error.

04 / 26

 

Item of the Week: Georgian Paste Earrings

 

We’ve been obsessed with finding a pair of good quality Georgian Paste Earrings (single stone drops). They had to be Georgian with a good amount of sparkle, well-made, and set in silver.

 

We found them! These beautiful Georgian, cushion cut (old mine cut) paste earrings have survived over two centuries and still have their sparkle. Originally shirt studs, they were converted to earrings by adding rose gold ear wires. They have all the signs of well-made paste from this period: “cut-down” or collet settings in which the edge is smooth, delicate, and almost merges with the stone; no yellowing, which means the setting was well-made and airtight; and set in silver.

 

A pair of this quality and condition from the Georgian period is getting harder to come by. For more information, to purchase or view other earrings in this collection, visit the the Spun Sugar Collection at Sugar et Cie.

 

Georgian Paste Earrings

 

© Copyright Sugar et Cie 2013

 

Our Other Obsession: The Aigrette

 

For those that may not have heard of it before, it is a jeweled hair ornament that resembles a spray of upright feathers, sometimes with an actual feather or tuft of feathers sprouting from the top. The feathers were often from the egret, which translates to aigrette in French. The jeweled portion can be fixed or “en trembleuse”/trembling, so that it trembles with movement.

 

Aigrettes were the most popular hair ornaments in the late 19th and early 20th century. Cartier and other well-known French jewelers, frequented special suppliers to purchase the feathers. White, shimmering green, and jet black feathers from around the world (New Guinea, Egypt and Central America) were all in demand. Cartier’s aigrette designs changed over time as different cultures inspired him. Evolving from floral motifs, to those influenced by Asia and Persia and then India.

 

From the 16th century through 19th century, aigrettes were most often worn on the top of the head, tiara, hat, etc. In the 1920’s the placement moved slightly. Now they were most often pinned to a band that wrapped around the head. The aigrette was attached to the band at the center of the forehead or at the side of the head, over the ear. The aigrette is becoming popular again today with brides who want a 1920’s inspired look. Take a look at this photo shoot by Vogue of Carrie Mulligan in 1920’s inspired fashion: including a few aigrettes, for the upcoming movie “The Great Gatsby”.

 

What piece of jewelry are you currently obsessed with?