Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jewelry Resource Book Review: Amazing Cartier - Jewelry Since 1937

The spectacular Cartier designs have amazed buyers and collectors of jewelry for decades because of their trend setting creations. Figurals make up quite a significant portion of the Cartier Collection, with designs ranging from bejeweled roosters to stunning tigers.

This book details their designs from 1937 through the beginning of the 21st century. There are hundreds of close up photographs, as well as archival drawings and photos taken of famous people wearing the design in real life.

These real life photos give a fabulous look at fashion styles from the actual time that the pieces were created, and this gives additional visual details of styles, hair and make up fashions from the period.

The book discusses the rise of the firm and offers a tribute to the multiple designers responsible for the myriad of jewelry pieces sold by Cartier.

The company was founded in 1847 in Paris by Louis-Francois Cartier. His son Alfred took over the administration of the company in 1874, but it Alfred's sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques who were responsible for establishing the world wide fascination with the name Cartier. At first known for watches, by the early 1900s, Cartier had branches in London, New York and St. Petersburg.

Their early Art Deco designs, in particular the use of Tutti Frutti jewels made them at the top of wealthy patrons list of jewelry designers.

The book is available from leading book sellers or online from and other internet book sellers. If you are a lover of Cartier jewelry or a vintage jewelry collector, then this book is a must have.

With this year's recent celebration of 100 years of Cartier, this book goes hand in hand with the celebration and gives much of the history around the House of Cartier. Looking through this book and seeing page after page of stunning photos of their designs, shows why the name Cartier is synomous with perfection.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Michelle Obama's Glamour Necklace is a Fenton

A few days ago, I mentioned that Michelle Obama would grace the December cover of Glamour magazine as part of their women of the year feature. I didn't have details of the necklace at the time - only that it gives new meaning to the term statement necklace. The first lady is quite fond of this style of necklace and has worn them several times in the past.

I have since discovered that the necklace that she wore for the cover shoot is Fenton by Dana Lorenz. The neckace is made of gunmetal, crystal, brass and hand dyed silk. It is part of the Fenton Fall and Winter 2009 Collection.

As with some of the other pieces that the first lady has worn, this necklace can be purchased at Ikram in Chicago. It is also available at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

November Birthstone - Yellow Topaz

Hasn't this year flown by for you? I can't believe how one month seems to blur into the next for me. It's already time to talk about the traditional birthstone for November - topaz. (Citrine is also considered a gemstone for November.) Topaz is also the birthstone for the zodiac sign Scorpio and the gemstone for the 16th wedding anniversary.

When one thinks of topaz, a warm honey color comes to mind, but the gemstone also occurs in many colors, including red, blue, violet and green.

Photo courtesy of ebay seller bankokgemmart

Topaz is a very durable and hard gemstone. It is rated 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness and is quite resistant to scratching. It is the hardest silicate mineral and one of the hardest minerals in nature.

Topaz is a durable gemstone that's resistant to scratching. It's rated 8 on the Mohs scale (compared to diamond, the hardest gemstone, at 10). The name of the gemstone is thought by some to have come from an island Topazos, which is found in the Red Sea, and was an early source for this gemstone. Others believe that it comes from the Sanskrit word "topas" meaning "fire".

Topaz stones are mentioned in the Old Testament, but many scholars believe that this reference of Topaz in the bible was actually peridot. Many scientists believe that real topaz were yellow crystals discovered in the early 1700s in Germany.

The main sources of mining today of Topaz are Brazil, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Africa, Mexico and Pakistan. When purchasing topaz stones, particularly the yellow variety, the buyer must be prepared. Many of the stones sold as topaz (particularly from overseas) are actually the lesser valued citrine stones.

In natural form, topaz crystals can reach the immense size of several hundred pounds. Because of thier high luster, multi faceted crystals, and nice colors, Topaz can make very attractive mineral specimens.

The largest faceted Topaz specimen ever found was a whopping 31,000 carat stone from Brazil named El Dorado. The rough crystal weighed an astonishing 37 kg, when discovered in 1984, and after cutting and polishing the final weight was only 6.2 kg.

Other large stones include a rare, perfect blue gemstone which was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1965. It weighed 100 kilograms and a 137 pound crystal was found in Norway in 1901 that was two feet long.

Most colors of topaz are relatively common, and quite affordable, some colors like red and pink are quite rare and much sought after, so their price is much higher.

As with other gemstones, Topaz has mystical properties associated with it. It has long been attributed with gentleness, integrity and fidelity and it thought to bring wearers love, wealth and protection. In physical terms, topaz is thought to aid with poor appetite, gout, blood disorders, hemorrhages, and diseases of the endocrine system.

Caring for topaz is relatively easy. Warm soapy water and a soft brush will usually keep it in good condition. Because it is sensitive to sudden temperature changes, ultrasonic and steam cleaners should be avoided. Bright light can cause the stone to fade, so it should be carefully stored when not being used.

Here is a lovely Georgian poem which talks about the gemstone Topaz:

Who first comes to this world below
In dreary November’s fog and snow
Should prize the topaz amber hue
Emblem of friends and lovers true.

El dorado photo courtesty of of Programa Royal Collections.
Michelle Obama will grace the December cover of Glamour Magazine - the first time is 70 years that a first lady has ever done so. Her photo is part of the magazine's annual Women of the Year Issue.

Mrs. Obama wears a vibrant Jason Wu red dress and a statement necklace like few others that I have seen. And make a statement it does! I'm still trying to find details on the designer of this piece. Hopefully, more details to come about this necklace later. The color of the dress and contrast with the necklace makes this a perfect choice for a magazine which will come out in December.

Photo credit: Glamour Magazine

The first lady will also be receiving a special recognition award from Glamour for her commitment to mentoring young women.

This issue of the magazine will also launch the new Glamour column by Katie Couric, who also interviewed Mrs. Obama. Glamour has more photos from the upcoming magazine and some details of the Couric interview as well. You can read more about the First Lady's appearance on Glamour's cover here. The woman of the year issue will hit the newstands next week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Largest ever hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found in Staffordshire with Metal Detector

A unemployed man using a metal detector in a rural English field has uncovered the largest Anglo-Saxon gold hoard ever found. Archeologist say that the hoard is rich in history. Terry Herbert used his metal detector in a Staffordshire, UK field to find this find of ancient gold and silver artifacts.

The hoard consists of weapons and helmet decorations, coins and Christian crosses. More than 1500 pieces, with hundreds still embedded in blocks of soil make this a really historical find. There were 5 kilograms of gold, and 2.5 kilograms of silver. Some archeologists believe that the find may the swag from a spectacularly successful raiding party of warlike Mercians, from some time around AD700.

This fabulous collection is worth at least $1.6 million, and he'll get to share the proceeds of the sale of it with the owner of the land.

Here is a YouTube video which discusses the find, its possible history and the man who discovered it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

PCC - Polymer Clay Halloween Bug Challenge - Still Time to Vote

Polmer Clay Express has design challenges every month, and the contest for this month is themed around bugs and critters...quite appropriate with Halloween just around the corner. There is still time to vote for your favorites.

Surprisingly, the finished products don't have much of a Halloween theme. When the challenge started earlier this month, I thought we would see all manner of spooky spiders and the like.

My favorite entry is the group of three various bugs. I particularly like the one with the pink and black detail on the back.

Which is your favorite entry? You can vote until the end of the month at the Polymer Clay "That Really Bugs Me" page of the site.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Today's Vintage Bling - Diamante Rhinestone Festoon Necklace

Today's bling is such a beauty. I love diamante rhinestone vintage jewelry. For one thing, the price of it is always so much lower than the colored rhinestone equivalent. They seem to be very undervalued to me. Also, diamante rhinestones will go with every fashion choice or color. They are understated and very elegant. Perfect choice for the upcoming holiday season!

This pretty festoon necklace is set in silvertone metal and features a stunning design with prong set emerald cut and chaton rhinestones. Imagine this at the neck of a simple black dress for New Year's eve! Just perfect.

The size of the necklace is 18" long and it has a fold over clasp. Clear and bright rhinestones for a glitzy effect. The price of this lovely festoon diamante necklace is only $49.99 so it won't break the budget. It is available from my Vintage Jewelry Lane Shop.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicago's Granger "Hall of Gems" Opens Today

The Field Museum of Natural History, in Chicago, IL, is one of the leading natural history museums in the country. Of special interest to jewelry collectors is their permanent exhibits in the Grainger Gem Gallery which will reopen today, October 23, 2009 after some recent renovations.

This wonderful display has exhibits of over 300 gems, as well as precious stones, semi-precious stones and other mineral artifacts and displays.

Viewers can "explore the natural beauty of Earth’s gems and witness their magical transformation from rough specimens, to stunning stones, to spectacular jewelry" in The Field Museum’s newly renovated hall. On display are exquisite rare jewels from around the world, as well as never-before-seen creations from top designers.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Field Museum

One of my favorite displays is the fabulous engraved diamond pin with a portrait of King Wiilliam III of the Netherlands, shown in the photo here. The diamond is mounted on a gold stick pin and features a 2.1 carat diamond by Tiffany & Co. The pin was first displayed at the Paris Exposition in 1878 and was purchased by Tiffany. it is now part of the original gem collection in Granger Hall.

The exhibit is a permanent display, so be sure to include a visit in your next trip to Chicago. For those that can't attend, the Field Museum has a highlights area on their site.

This YouTube Video also has a video walk around of the Grainger Hall but I think this may have been before the reopening of the hall. The video is a bit dark and shaky, but will give an idea of the scope of the exhibit.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Brushed Finish

There are a myriad of finish types of the various metals which were used in the construction of vintage jewelry. Today's vintage jewelry word pertains to one of these finishes - a Brushed Finish.

A brushed finish is a type of metal finish which has no gloss at all. The process involved gives the finished product a textured finish which is much less reflective than a normal metal finish.

This finish is produced by soft scratch-brushing a polished metal surface so that it produces a soft sheen. The finish is also known as a Satin finish, a Butler finish, or a scratch brush finish.

Many designers of vintage jewelry used the brushed finish, but one of the most well known and, in my opinion, one of the best manufacturers of this technique is Trifari. Their brushed goldtone and silvertone finishes, especially on their brooches, are superb with fantastic detail.

Here are some examples of this type of finish on vintage jewelry pieces. (click the pictures to open for greater detail.)

What do you think of the finish? Do you like this style or do you prefer a higher gloss finish?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vintage Jewelry Designer of the Week - Who am I?

This is another in my ongoing guessing game series about popular vintage jewelry designers. I'll give you some clues and pictures and you see if you can guess which designer it is. Ready? Here are your clues:
  • The dates of operation of the company are 1914 to the present day.
  • The founder of the company emigrated from Austria in 1885
  • Design Characteristics: use of Swarovski rhinestones and custom color rhinestones
  • Used aeronautical glue in their designs
  • Switched to the use of sterling silver in the war time years
  • Many designs were rhodium plated
  • Famous for Christmas tree designs
  • Many whimsical designs from the 1940s are very collectible today

Here are some pictures of my designs:

I am considered a high end designer and very collectible today. For more information and the answer to today's riddle, you can go to this designer page of the resource library on my website Vintage Jewelry Lane. (answer is also shown reading backwards at the bottom of this blog post.)

I'll be doing more of these riddles over the next weeks and months. Have fun with the series. Answer: (read it backwards) grebnesiE

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Nature of Diamonds - Chicago's Field Museum Exhibit

October seems to be the month for jewelry exhibits around the country. I've mentioned many news worthy ones in my blog this month and there are more to come. The latest exhibit is called "The Nature of Diamonds" and will be opening at the Chicago Field Museum on October 23, 2009 and will run through March, 2010.

Nearly 800 exquisite objects, including some of the world’s most stunning gemstones, tell the story of our fascination with the beauty and power of this King of Gemstones - the diamond. The exhibit will explore all aspects of this extraordinary mineral, from its geological origins, to its place in history, art, and adornment, and finally to its uses in modern technology and research.
Photo credit Tiffany and Co Archives

The centerpiece and highlight of this fabulous exhibit is called The Vault. Here, you will discover some of the exhibition’s most breathtaking jewelry from the world’s top designers, including many objects that have rarely been displayed. Also featured in this area of the exhibit will be pieces previously owned by Mae West, Catherine the Great of Russia, Joan Crawford, Elton John, and many more well known celebrities and monarchs.

The piece shown above is The Tiffany Diamond, a large 128.54 carat diamond which is one of the world’s largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds, The design is called “Bird on a Rock” setting is set with white and yellow diamonds, ruby, gold, and platinum.

The Chicago Field Museum has a wonderful walk through for those who must setting for a virtual tour of the exhibit. The walk through has a wealth of information about both diamonds in general and the exhibit items in particular.

If you will be in Chicago, consider yourself very fortunate. This exhibit, set against the backdrop of spectacular jewels and stunning gemstones, will present one of the most all-encompassing, multi-faceted exhibitions ever mounted on the singular subject of diamonds. If any of my readers will attend this exhibit, please share your experience with us!

Here are some more exhibits for those who cannot be there in person:

This voluminous necklace, designed by Dieter Huebner, and sponsored by Brinkhaus Jewelers, is adorned with 2,000 luminous diamonds. The “Milky Way” necklace was designed in 2000 as a celebration and ode to the millennium.

Photo credit: C. Philip Hersey Photographer, Ltd

Virgin of Immaculate Conception - Created in Spain during the early 1600s, this religious piece—a common jewelry motif at the time—is meticulously fashioned with point-cut diamonds, rubies, pearls, gold, and enamel.

Photo credit Roderick Mickens © American Museum of Natural History

Question Mark Necklace - by Boucheron who designed a series of floral “question mark” necklaces. In this 1890 question-mark necklace, a semi-rigid, pavé-set ornament forms a graceful question mark that is designed to sweep around the wearer’s throat and down to the low-cut neckline of a formal evening gown.

Photo credit Katharina Faerber

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jewelry and Astrology - Scorpio

This blog post is another in my series about choosing jewelry suitable for individual star signs. Today's astrological sign is Scorpio, which is the sign for those born between October 23-November 21. The sign is depicted as the scorpion and it is considered a water sign.

Zodiac Logo courtesy of

Scorpios have very magnetic and dynamic personalities. They are generally well liked and can have a soothing affect on those around them. People born under this star sign tend to be very creative and inventive and excel in professional careers such as medicine chemistry and physics. On the negative side, they can be jealous and resentful, somewhat compulsive and obsessive, as well as being secretive and obstinate.

Thinking about buying jewelry for your Scorpio friend and don't know where to start? Let's examine some of these zodiac facts for a bit of inspiration.
  • Their special color dark red
  • Their lucky numbers are 3 and 5
  • The gemstones associated with this birth sign are topaz and opals
  • Scorpios love all types of flowers, including geraniums, black-eyed Susans, gardenias and many other types.
  • Their best location is near the water
Let's combine some of these traits and see what we can come up with for gifts that might please your Scorpio friend.

Since their lucky numbers are three and five, how about choosing a multi strand necklace for them with this number of rows of beads? My Carolina Collections Jewelry Shop has a lovely range of 3 and 5 strand beaded necklaces.

How about this goldtone Scorpio bracelet? It is a clamper style and features a cute scorpion charm dangle and is available at the give away price of $4.99 from Vintage Jewelry Mall.

Dark Red? That is an easy one. All of my stores have a lovely range of red jewelry to choose from. How about this blood red rhinestone brooch that incorporates both their color and their love of flowers. It's available on Vintage Jewelry Lane for only $18.99

Since Scorpios love to be near the water, they would probably appreciate any piece of jewelry with a nautical theme.

Finally, here is a Georgian poem which depicts the Scorpio personality well:

Who keeps an arrow in his bow,
And if you prod, he lets it go?
A fervent friend,
a subtle foe-Scorpio!

Vintage Jewelry Find of the Week - Pretty Rhinestone and Pearl Bracelet

This week's vintage jewelry find is perfect for the upcoming holidays. It is a mix of the romantic and the elegant and would be great for both daytime or evening wear.

This lovely bracelet features four strands of prong set diamante rhinestones and a single center strand of hand wired creamy faux pearls.

The length is 7 3/8" and it is 3/4" wide, so fits right in with the current popular trend for wide bracelets. It has a secure fold over clasp and is set in goldtone metal.

The multi strand bracelet is available from my Ruby Lane Shop - The Finishing Touch Vintage Jewelry for only $22. Hurry - it won't last long at this price.

You can see more photos of this lovely rhinestone and pearl braclet as well as other details in my Ruby Lane store.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Imperishable Beauty: Art Nouveau Jewelry on Display in Cincinnati Art Museum

If you have ever wondered what a piece of Art Nouveau jewelry looks like, then the Cincinnati Art Museum is the place to be During the latter part of this year. The museum will be exhibiting more than 100 works of designers from France, Germany, Austria and United States which depict the Art Nouveau movement of late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The exhibit will start on October 24 and runs through to January 17, 2010. This display was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA and was shown there last year. The Cincinnati Art Museum will be the only other venue for this exhibition.

Major designers and jewelers of the era, including René Lalique, Henri Vever, Philippe Wolfers and Tiffany & Co will be on display in this lavish exhibition.

My impression of Art Nouveau jewelry is that which is nature inspired with florals, leaves, curliques and ornate designs. The Lalique hair comb shown above typifies the styling, to me. It is from 1902-03 and is a French design made of gold, enamel, sapphire and horn.

The following photos are just a small sampling of what is in store for you if you are fortunate enough to be able to attend the exhibit in Cincinnati.

Stunning dragonfly pendant-brooch, 1904 by Philippe Wolfers (Belgian, 1858–1929) - Made of platinum, gold, enamel, diamond, ruby, and pearls.

Fabulous and ornate brooch with a female figure, about 1903 byRené Lalique, French, 1860–1945. This one is made from gold, enamel, and diamonds.

One of my favorites is this beautiful necklace with a female head and a sphinx, about 1900 by Emmanuel-Jules- Joseph Descomps (French, 1872–1948). It is made of gold, enamel, diamond, and pearls.

For more photos of the exhibition when it was on display in Boston last year, please visit
All photos Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Friday, October 16, 2009

Memory Wire Wrap Bracelets - Make a Fashion Statement!

Readers of my blog know that I love glass jewelry of all types. It is colorful, feels substantial and so cold to the touch and has such an earthy feel about it. Also, glass jewelry is very undervalued, in my opinion, when one considers the price of glass beads.

Memory wrap bracelets often use glass beads and depending on the length of the wire used, can be quite a fashion statement when worn. Some of them end up several inches wide, depending on your wrist size.

My online stores all have glass memory wire bracelets for sale. The one featured here is from my Vintage Jewelry Lane shop and consists of a fabulous combination of cloisonné enamel and faceted glass beads. The price is $22.99, and it is just stunning in both color and design. I don't normally think of burgundy and red matching well together, but on this bracelet, the combination just works for me.

Feeling creative? Why not try your hand at making one of these? Head off to Michael's, get some memory wire, and glass beads and use your imagination. You'll end up with a lovely hand made creation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Annenberg Diamond Will be the Featured in Christie's Fall Jewelry Sale in New York

The leading auction house for fine jewels, Christie's, has announced that the Annenberg Diamond, a spectacular D color, Flawless diamond of 32.01 carats, will be the leading
highlight of Jewels: The New York Sale to be held on October 21, 2009. The diamond is valued between $3-5 million and will be among the many highly-anticipated jewels offered at
auction in the coming Fall season.

The fabulous Diamond is mounted in a ring designed by renowned Manhattan jeweler David Webb, in a design which has it flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds weighing 1.50 and 1.61 carats.

Prior to the October sale, Christie's has arranged a special preview tour of the Annenberg Diamond to key collecting centers, including those in Geneva, London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York.

The Annenberg diamond isn't the only item to be featured of course. Christie's will have an amazing array of necklaces, earrings and bracelets in the sale as well. They have a slide show on their web site which showcases the jewels to be auctioned. Other notable jewelry to be auctioned include a remarkable suite of diamond jewelry from Harry Winston, “The King of Diamonds.”

For more information on the history of the Annenberg diamond and information about the Annenberg family and foundation, please visit this press release from Christie's. Viewing will take place from Ocbtober 16-20, 2009, at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries and the auction will be on October 21.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Contemporary Art Jewelry Exhibit - Signs of Life 2009

Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery in downtown Seattle, WA is a prominent gallery which showcases 55 jewelry artists as well as antique and vintage jewelry.

The Gallery is currently running an exhibition called Signs of Life 2oo9. The exhibit opened on October 7 and will run until October 28. It is a contemporary jewelry art show and companion jewelry art catalog/literary journal.

Photo credit Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery

The artist list for the exhibition includes Diane Falkenhagen, Aliyah Gold, Laurie J. Hall, Julia Harrison, Thomas Hill, Trudee Hill, Rika Mouw, Gail Rappa, and Sarah Wilbanks. Writers include Erica Bauermeister, Paul Dorpat, Sarah Fenske, Waverly Fitzgerald, Samuel Green, Stephanie Kallos, John Olson, Jean Sherrard, and Janet Yoder.

The catalog/literary journal pairs these jewelry artists with nine writers in a unique publication that celebrates both literature and jewelry art.

Facèré has a page of their website devoted to the exhibition which also has pieces for sale. The piece featured here seems to go well with the name of the exhibit - Signs of life. It is called "Swallowtail" and is a brooch by Julia Harrison in burned maple, nickel, epoxy and wax. Price is $882. 00

If you would like to see the other contemporay pieces in the exhibit, please visit the Facèré website.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This month is breast cancer awareness month. I'm sure that most of you may know someone who has been affected in some way by this disease. This is the month to show support for the cause.

This year is also a special anniversary - In 2009, NBCAM celebrates its 25th anniversary. Since its inception a quarter century ago, NBCAM has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues and has evolved along with the national dialogue on breast cancer.

While October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Web site is a year-round resource for breast cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, and the general public. I encourage you to visit their site in October and regularly throughout the year as they add updated breast cancer information and resources.

A simple way of promoting the cause is to wear a breast cancer awareness pin on as sweater or on the lapel of a jacket during the month. There are many styles available.

Many companies make breast cancer pins, but Avon makes several designs including the unusual one shown here which is called Walk around the World for Breast Cancer. One of the great things about purchasing from Avon is that is affordably priced at only $3.00, with all net proceeds ($2.27) donated to the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade to fund breast cancer research, access to care, support services, screening and diagnostics, and education. (f you like the pin, my friend Marilyn is an avon representative and will help you with the purchase.)

It's nice to know that doing something so simple can possibly make a difference.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Today's Featured Designer - BSK

One of the most fascinating area of collecting vintage jewelry is recognizing the look of the various designers who produced the lovely pieces that we like to collect and wear. Today's featured designer is BSK.

BSK is a designer about whom very little information seems to be available. The company was founded in New York in 1948 and did business until the mid 1980s. (I've seen one reference book listing the 1970s as the end of production, but most researchers seem to agree that they closed their doors in the mid 1980s. )The letters BSK stand for the first initials of the three owners: Benny Steinberg, Slovitt and Kaslo.

Their designs vary from simple silvertone and goldtone pieces to some particularly stunning designs with rhinestones. Overall, their designs are of average style, although very good quality. The jewelry sold well in the 1950s, when the demand for affordable jewelry boomed after the war time period. The BSK line was reasonably priced and was sold in department stores such as Woolworths.

It was normal during this period for mothers and teachers to receive BSK designs as gifts because of the competitive price point. One particularly interesting series that the company did was called My Fair Lady, and this is featured in many vintage jewelry reference books at better than average book values. Consider this a real find if you come across one of these highly collectible pieces!

The design characteristics of BSK pieces are the use of colorful enamel designs, with the base metal often dipped in the enamel. They made some whimsical designs. Their rhinestone pieces often used Aurora Borealis Rhinestones, in combination with enamel. Many of their designs featured a feaf style of overlay.

BSK designs had very little variation in their markings. Most pieces were signed just with the letters BSK in block lettering, either directly on the metal, or on a metal cartouche added to the design. The collectible My Fair Lady designs were marked BSK © My Fair Lady .

My Fair Lady photo courtesy of Ruby Lane seller The Vintage Princess

Here are some pictures of BSK designs which show both the simplicity and elegance characteristic of their designs.

BSK jewelry is not particularly expensive to buy and is still relatively easy to find. Don't buy pieces with flaws, since they will not warrant repair costs to fix them. If possible buy sets instead of single pieces. BSK is prized by some collections of vintage jewelry for the lovely combination of enameling and rhinestones, so the pieces should slowly rise in value.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ASJRA - Dedicated to the Advancement of Jewelry Studies

The Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (AJSRA for short) is an organization whose aim is the advancement of jewelry studies in museums, school and various institutions of higher leaning. The organization is also a good source of information about the history of jewelry, including that from both the ancient past and the present day.

AJSRA publishes a quarterly magazine called Adornment, the Magazine of Jewelry & Related Arts. The organization also sends out a weekly online newsletter about jewelry news with a paid subscription.

Photo credit:

Their fourth Annual Conference took place on Sunday, October 11, 2009 in New York City at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The conference is titled "In its Time: Materials and Techniques throughout Jewelry History", and it provided attendees a chance to intermingle with people from many different parts of the jewelry community.

The speakers for the conference were curators, historians and jewelry artists who discussed subjects with which they are well-versed in and understand intimately. Speakers for this year's conference included Barbara Berk, Ursula Ilse-Neuman, Rui Galopim de Carvalho, Gerald W.R. Ward, Barbara Seidenath and Jan Yager. A full list of the speakers and their qualifications can be found here.

Each year, during the confernece, one young scholar is offered the opportunity to present their research on a jewelry subject. What a wonderful opportunity for young people interested in jewelry design!

There were also two study days during the conference this year on October 9 and 10, 2009. One discussed A Magical Mystery Tour of Colored Diamonds with Alan Bronstein and the other dealt with Bad Marriages in Jewelry.

The conference sounds like a wonderful event. I'll try to get details earlier for next years conference. Their site has tempted me to become an affiliate, so that I can receive the magazine and online weekly newsletter. Why not have a look to see if it appeals to you too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Damascene Jewelry - Collectible Style of Vintage Jewelry

Damascene is a process in which non precious metals are decorated with 18-24K gold in decorative patterns. During the procedure, artisans cover the surface of an object with fine grooves, using sharp cutting tools. Figures are then drawn on the scored surfaces. Next gold wires are pressed into these grooves with a steel punch and hammer.

Figures are then drawn on the scored surfaces. The whole item is then blued to produce a black background by a total oxidation of the surfaces which are not damasked. A delicate and light process of chipping gives a lovely sheen to the object. Finally, the piece is mounted to give the final object.

Damascene jewelry is one of the specialites of my main website Vintage Jewelry Lane. I have a very large range of it, at competitive prices. There are several styles of damascene jewelry, most notably Tourist damascene, Amita damascene, and Reed and Barton Damascene. Each type has quite a different look to it.

I've written a reference article with lots of information on damascene jewelry, and photos to explain each style. You can find the damascene article here.

Here are some photos of pieces that I currently have for sale. You can click the pics to get more details. Prices range from $15.99 to $49.99 for the pieces featured here. Other styles start at $11.99. I have many more styles on my sites - Vintage Jewelry Lane.

My favorite style of damascene jewelry is the Reed and Barton style, but all of the styles are collectible in their own right.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Just in Time for Halloween - Polymer Clay Contest - "That Really Bugs Me"

Polymer Clay Express holds monthly contests, many of which are suitable for jewelry designers. Their only stipulation for entering the contests is that the designs must be made of polymer clay (with other added materials for embellishments accepted.)

Their contest for October is called "That Really Bugs Me," which should really suit designs that will be appropriate for Halloween, which is just around the corner.

The accept photographic entries now, and the deadline for submissions is October 17. You can view the contest entries on the Polymer Clay Express website. I'll post some of the winning designs when they are announced next month.

If you love halloween jewelry but aren't in the mood for polymer clay, here are a few cute rhinestone Halloween jewelry ideas to put you in a spooky mood. They are available from my Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry store on ebay. Prices start at $10.25.


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