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Our Latest Obsession: The Enamel Flower Ring
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!

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