The Art of Handmade Bead Jewelry: Jewelry Made from the Heart

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They say anything made from the heart is superior to all alternatives, and the same thought applies to the art that is handmade jewellery. Every kind of jewelry is beautiful, but there’s undeniably something wonderful in knowing the care it took to make a handmade piece. That each and every line was carefully sculpted with a human eye and a human hand, not chiseled out by some machine. Humans have a profound ability to draw out the beautiful from the bland, and where better to do this than in the objects we commemorate to beauty itself? More and more people are coming to see the true gift that handmade jewellery is, and it’s fantastic. There is something in the devotion required to make a beautiful piece that simply adds to the beauty, and that’s an aspect to jewelry those crafted otherwise will never be able to touch. Not to mention how much buying from a real artist helps them in their life and career. There’s a reason a shift is underway in the jewelry world, and why handmade art is at the centre of it all.

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Purchase handmade bead jewelry at:

ONE aspect of the present subject, “jewelry in pictures” more attractive perhaps than any other, is that which concerns the representation of personal ornaments in pictures. Scarcely as yet have pictures been fully appreciated from the point of view of their utility to antiquaries or the light they throw upon matters of historical inquiry.

The important part which from the fifteenth century onward they have played in connection with the subject of jewelry is sufficiently attested by the number of times they have already been referred to during the course of the present inquiry. The truth, reality, and accuracy of the artists’ work has eminently contributed to the value of these pictures.

A sympathetic way of seeing things and reproducing them and a fine feeling for naturalistic detail is characteristic of all the work of the painters of early times, when a strength of realism made its wholesome influence universally felt. Such works, while they display the grandeur and magnificence of former ages and point out the fashions and customs of our ancestors, show in detail not only the bright splendor of patterned draperies in many materials, but also the shimmer of goldsmith’s work in the form of a variety of actual ornaments, now for the most part entirely lost.

In this way they set before us details unnoticed by chroniclers, and convey clearer ideas than can be attained by reading the most elaborate descriptive inventories. The special capability of the early painters for representing articles of jewelry need merely be alluded to again, seeing the close connection, already shown, that always existed between them and the goldsmiths, in whose workshops most of them passed their apprenticeship.

Every jeweled ornament figured in their works is, in fact, designed with the full knowledge of a goldsmith versed in his craft. The artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are notorious for the extreme and elaborate minuteness of their painting of jewels. In the portraits of the time careful accuracy in depicting ornaments was the duty, and evidently the delight, of’ the painter. In every early picture the various details of costume and jewelry are rendered with scrupulous care and refinement. Though placed in the most prominent and decorative positions, jewelry was never, in the best works, allowed to intrude or to occupy an exaggerated place in the composition.

For however minutely defined these accessories may be, they are so fused into the general design that they are only apparent if one takes the trouble to look for them. In addition to recognized masterpieces, there exists a vast number of pictures obviously not by the first masters, which, though of only moderate quality, do not actually offend by their inferiority. These equally well serve to illustrate details of jewelry and dress.

In a picture of the first order such details, of importance in themselves, sink into insignificance beside the splendid qualities of a work of art: in less important pictures the ornamental accessories are all in all. It would be of great value to students if all public collections that possess costumes and ornaments could bring together-as has been done with remarkable success in the Germanic Museum at Nuremberg-series of portraits specially chosen to illustrate these details, such portraits, like the actual articles of dress and jewelry, being, of course, old ones, not modern copies.

We may state, in general, that jewels figured in portraits are to be relied upon as being the actual objects possessed by the persons represented. All the early painters displayed, as has been said, a special love for jewel forms. They not only took their beautiful models as they found them, but being themselves mostly masters of the jeweler’s craft, they devoted much attention to the adornment and the arrangement of the jewels of their models. It may be urged that painters are apt to indulge their fancy by decorating their sitters with jewels they do not possess, introduced to improve the color or arrangement of the picture, or introduced in accordance with orders, like those of the good Mrs. Primrose, who expressly desired the painter of her portrait to put in as many jewels as he could for the money, and “not to be too frugal of his diamonds in her stomacher and hair.

It is unlikely, on the contrary, that any of the early painters departed from their usual methods of truth, reality, and accuracy; or, considering the elaborate detail with which they depicted jewelry, that they ever specially invented it for the portrait in which it occurs. It is much more probable that they worked from what they saw: for masters of painting have in all ages worked from models in preference to carrying out their own designs.

It is to be observed that the presence or absence of gilding on jewelry often serves to distinguish between German and Flemish paintings. Holbein almost always employed gold upon golden objects, but in the works of other artists, so rich in elaborate detail, paint alone suffices to produce the effect. The artists of those days possessed a marvelous facility for imitating the brilliance of gold by color alone.

In examining the jewelry of sixteenth and seventeenth century portraits numbers of what appear to be black stones are frequently to be seen. These were evidently intended to represent diamonds. From early times, when the custom existed of improving, as it was considered, the color of all stones by the use of foils, diamonds—the old stones of Golconda and Brazil, different in color and quality from the diamonds of to-day—were usually backed with a black varnish composed of lamp-black and oil of mastic. This coloring of the diamond, which is alluded to by Cellini, would account for the intense and clear blacks and whites used by the artists of the time in depicting that precious stone.

In the work of some of the finest painters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so masterly is the handling, that in the contemplation of broad effects one may fail to notice how much detail the artists were able to combine with such breadth. In fact the detail they displayed is hardly less precise than that of the earlier painters. Mr. Davies has some interesting remarks to make on the different modes of depicting jewelry adopted by first-class painters—by the one who paints it in detail and the other who treats it with freedom.

The first paints you, touch by touch, his chains, his bracelets, his tiara, link by link, and gem by gem, with precision so great that if you called in a fairly capable goldsmith, of little or no intelligence, he would use them as a pattern and produce you an exact facsimile. The second obtains his result by summarized knowledge, letting his line lose itself and find itself again, a flash on a link, a sparkle on a gem suggesting all to the eye with a completeness which is fully as complete as the literal word for word translation of the other man.

Call in a really intelligent goldsmith to this work and he would find it quite as easy as, or even easier than, the other to understand and reproduce from, but it would not do to make a tracing from, nor give as a pattern to one of his unintelligent apprentices. Very attractive and valuable guides to the jewelry of the early period are the early Flemish-Burgundian paintings and those of the Italian masters of the fifteenth century. The most fertile of sixteenth-century pictures for the present purpose are the Germans

in contemporary pictures.

In the second half of the sixteenth century and the early part of the seventeenth, the painters of the Low Countries especially excelled in the delineation of jewel forms. By these and by numerous followers of Holbein, many pictures were painted, and exist in England at the present day. The technique of the great Dutch and Flemish painters of the seventeenth century were not incompatible. The majority of pictures of the early part of the eighteenth century offer but slight indication of the jewelry of the time. had a set of postures (and ornaments too) which they applied to all persons indiscriminately.

Seeing the reliance that may be placed on the jewelry figured in the portraits of earlier times, it is not unnatural to expect such detail to be of considerable service in art criticism. In the identification of a portrait much may rest on the identification of its jewels. A portrait with the jewels actually owned by the subject, if not ‘ the rose’ (for it may be a copy of a lost original) has certainly been ‘ near the rose.’ ” But critics seldom think of examining the numerous extant royal and noble inventories and other documents such as wills containing lists of jewels, and of comparing the jewels described in them with those displayed in portraits.

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UNTIL the middle of the nineteenth century the peasants and natives of every country district of Europe wore modest gold and silver jewelry, of small pecuniary value, but of great artistic interest. Before this time peasant jewelry was seldom sought for, and comparatively unknown ; and collectors, better informed in other respects, did not think of saving it from the melting-pot. It then began to attract some of the attention it deserves.

This old peasant jewelry has of course all passed out of the hands of its original owners. The chief cause of its disappearance has been increased facilities for traveling, which resulted in jewelry fashioned wholesale in industrial centers being distributed to the remotest rural districts. The demands of the modern collector, and improvements in present-day taste among certain of the cultured classes, which have led to the adoption of old articles of jewelry for personal use, have also contributed to the disappearance of peasant jewelry.

The wiles of the dealer have induced peasants to yield up heirlooms, which, handed down for generations, have escaped the fate of the jewels of the wealthy and more fashionable. The great museums of art and industry springing up everywhere, especially in Germany, have all obtained a generous share of the spoil, and have preserved it from what, until lately, would have been inevitable destruction.

So completely in most parts has this old jewelry gone out of use among the peasant that hardly a trace remains of a once flourishing industry carried on by local craftsmen working on traditional lines, and by the artistic fashion of the moment. Machines driven by steam power have crushed out of existence skill to make things by hand, and the cold and monotonous production of the artisan has taken the place of the old work, whose peculiarly attractive character is due to its expressing the fresh ideas and inspiration of the artist.

The French peasant jewel par excellence is the cross. It is suspended from the neck by a velvet ribbon, and varies in form according to localities. Its size is often in proportion to the social condition of the wearer. Sometimes it attains considerable dimensions. Fixed upon the velvet ribbon, and drawing it together just above the cross is a slide in the form of a bow, rosette, or heart, and of the same style as the cross itself.

In many provinces of France, such as Savoy, gold is reserved exclusively for married women —custom having it that all their jewels should be of that metal. Silver, on the other hand, is often employed solely for girls’ jewelry possibly because it is considered the natural symbol of virginal purity, just as in ancient times it was consecrated to the virgin goddess, Diana.

The most interesting and perhaps the best-known French peasant jeweler is that of Normandy. The chief Norman jewel is the cross. The most usual form is that which occurs in the districts round St. L6. It is of silver, formed of five high bosses, four round and one pear-shaped, each set with a large foiled rock crystal.


This jewelry was cut and faceted into brilliant shapes, and further ornamented with sprays set with small crystals in rose form. The lower limb of the cross, pear-shaped, is hinged, so as to render it less liable to get bent or broken in wear. The spaces between the limbs are sometimes completely filled up with branched open-work set with small crystals. In the more northerly parts of France the cross is formed simply of large bosses set with crystals; but round about Rome we meet with an abundance of spray-work. Other crosses of considerable size are formed of thin plates of pierced gold. The shape of the cross is indicated simply by crystal bosses, but its form is almost lost in the outline of the jewel.

A favorite subject for representation is the Saint Esprit or Holy Dove. Employed as a breast – ornament or pendant, the Dove is either in gold or silver, mounted with crystals, or colored pastels set close together. It is suspended from an ornament of open knot design, with a rosette-shaped slide above. In its beak is a branch, spray, or bunch of grapes, generally of colored pastels.

Peasant jewelry ceased to be worn in Normandy about 1840, when native costume was given up. While Normandy relies chiefly on crystal quartz for its jewelry, other areas boast, of a variety of gems, such as garnets, opals, and zircons, which are of frequent occurrence in the volcanic rock of Central France.

The jewelry in some of these areas was mounted with cabochon stones in large high settings. Open-work circular pendants have a central boss with eight similar settings around. The Saint Esprit is also a popular jewel, but in these parts the form of the Dove is not completely carried out, the jewel being composed merely of five pear-shaped bosses to indicate the wings, body, head, and tail of the bird. It is to be observed that the patterns of the jewels here alluded to are not entirely original inventions of the peasantry.

As a matter of fact, they are often from precisely the same models as the jewelry in use in the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century, and are very similar in style to the large series of original designs executed about that time by the Santini family of Florence. Their technique is also traditional. This is shown by the presence on many of the peasant jewels of Southern France, as well as of other districts, of the painted enamel which came in about 1640, and continued in use for upwards of a century.

While fashion has shifted scores of times since those days, types and styles of jewelry then set remained unchanged in these quarters until the great industrial revolution of the nineteenth century and the strange and universal decline of taste that accompanied it. Holland is one of the few countries that have retained their peasant jewelry. Not only is it displayed in abundance on festive occasions, such as weddings, but it is worn in everyday life by the well-to-do natives of the country districts.

Much jewelry is employed in Zealand. The country belles wear jutting out on either side of the lace cap curious corkscrew-like ornaments of gold, silver, or gilt metal on which they hang-pendants sometimes tipped with pearls. In the land of Goes a square gold ornament is pinned close to the face inside the lace halo that surrounds the head. Coral necklaces are worn, and jet ones for mourning. Boys have earrings and gold and silver buttons near the throat. The head-ornaments of North Holland and Utrecht consist of a broad thin band of gold or silver which encircles the skull and terminates at each end with the above-mentioned spiral ornaments. These bands are covered by a white muslin cap or by a cap decorated with colored designs.


The women of Netherlands display costly caps of gold beaten out to fit each individual head. In some areas the lace cap terminates with gold ornaments, and the coral necklace has clasps of gold filigree. Men and boys wear flat silver buttons on the coat and gold at the collar. At the waist is a pair of large hammered discs of silver. The natives of the fertile country of Finland possess vast stores of jewelry, generally of gold set with diamonds. Very attractive peasant ornaments are still in use in Belgium. Long pendent crosses are worn, with earrings to match. They are of open-work floral and scroll designs, and are mounted with small rosettes set with rose diamonds—silver rosettes being applied to gold ornaments, gold to silver ones.

The slide above the cross here forms part of the pendant, and is not, as in France, attached by the ribbon worn with it. The heart is not worn above the cross, as in France, but is used as a distinct ornament, as a rule in silver only. These open-work heart pendants, commonly found in France rarely elsewhere, have an opening in the center hung with a movable setting, and a hinged crown-shaped ornament above. Instead of a crown is sometimes two quivers and a bow—a love token.

Flemish jewels, unlike the French, are set entirely with rose diamonds. The peasant jewelry of Norway and Sweden is mainly of silver filigree. Precious stones do not take an important place in it. When used they are more often than not false, and are only sparingly applied for the sake of their color. Particularly characteristic of almost all the ornaments of these parts are numerous small concave or saucer-like pieces of metal, highly polished, or small flat rings. They are suspended by links, particularly from the large circular buckle which is the chief article of jewelry. Most ornaments are circular in plan. Besides being executed in filigree, many of them are embossed or else cast—a style of work admirably displayed on the huge silver-gilt crowns worn by Scandinavian brides. The peasant ornaments of Germany present many varieties of design. Silver filigree of various kinds is employed for almost all of them.

In the northern districts amber beads are naturally the commonest form of necklace, while hollow balls of silver are also worn strung together. Large flat hair-pins are used, the expanded heads of which are ornamented with raised filigree. Swiss peasant jewelry is largely composed of garnets or garnet-colored glass set in silver filigree.

So numerous are the different types of Italian peasant jewels that it is impossible to mention them all. Every small district, nay, every township, seems to have possessed ornaments that differed in some detail from those of its neighbors. Many of them display reminiscences of the antique. Their manufacture follows—or did till quite recent years—the old methods ; the natives of certain out-of-the-way districts still working in very much the same manner as the ancient Etruscans. All ornaments are somewhat voluminous. The head is uncovered, and presents an extensive field for hair-ornaments.

In some areas there is found all sorts of hair-pins, often a couple of dozen, stuck in nimbus fashion, and through crosswise is passed another pin with an oval head at each end. Earrings are likewise of considerable dimensions, but light in spite of their size. Their surfaces are very frequently set with seed pearls. The finest existing collection of Italian peasant jewelry is that in the Victoria and Albert Museum, purchased from Signor Castellani in 1867.

Of great beauty is the jewelry of the shores of the Adriatic, and that of the Greek Islands, probably made by descendants of the Venetian goldsmiths, and commonly known by the title of ” Adriatic” jewelry. It is of thin gold, on which are shallow seals filled with opaque enamels.


Crescent-shaped earrings are formed of pendent parts hung with double pearls. Dating from the seventeenth century are elaborate and delicate pendants in the shape of fully rigged ships enriched with painted enamel and hung with clusters of pearls. Beautiful work of a similar nature was also produced in Sicily. Hungarian and Spanish peasant ornaments have already been alluded to. In both these countries we find the native filigree enamel in sixteenth-century work, and painted enamel in that of the .seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Spanish jewelry frequently takes the form of pendent reliquaries. It is usually of stout silver filigree, bearing traces of Moorish design. The Moorish style is also felt on Portuguese jewelry, which displays in addition a certain amount of what appears to be Indian influence.

It is composed of gold filigree of very fine workmanship. Earrings and neck-chains are of such proportions that they reach respectively to the shoulders and the waist. In addition to the cross, star, heart, and crescent-shaped pendants are worn. A favorite form is one resembling an inverted artichoke. Openings are left in its surface, and within these spaces and on the edges of the jewel are hung little trembling pendants. Portuguese jewelry of the eighteenth century, largely set with crystal, is admirably represented in the Museum of Fine Arts at Lisbon.

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JEWELLERY of the nineteenth century presents a very variegated picture both as regards material and technique, as well as in the display of every conceivable style. It is not so much a particular character of its own that has marked the jewelry of each epoch of the century, as a peculiar form of reproduction or rather reconstruction of older styles of art, based for the most part on false traditions. The whole period was an eclectic one, and the majority of its productions—the result of nothing less than aimless hesitation and fruitless endeavor to revive the forms of the past—display at least doubtful taste. Throughout the greater part of the time France led the fashion, and every one of the political changes she underwent left its mark on her artistic productions. After the desolate epoch of the Revolution, under which the whole standard of jewelry was measurably lowered, a revival of something approaching luxury was experienced under the Directory.

This was succeeded about the year 1800, owing to the stimulating dominance of the First Consul, by circumstances of real luxury. The period dating from Napoleon’s accession to the Imperial Dignity four years later, till about 1814, was one of considerable importance in the history of jewelry.

The severe and academic influence of the leading-and most popular artist of the day, the painter David, and of his pupils, with their extravagant taste for the antique, was universally felt. Yet while the antique celebrated its triumph in all directions, the Empire failed to shake itself entirely free from eighteenth-century styles. As far indeed as jewelry was concerned, the classical revival cannot be said to have been altogether unhappy; for its ornaments are not without a certain charm.

Like all else, they breathed the spirit of the past, and are not less formal and rigid than the other art productions of the period. It was under the short-lived reign of the associated kings, termed the Directory, that the taste for the antique first became thoroughly dominant.

Jewelry of all kinds assumed classical forms. The few individuals who were fortunate enough to procure them wore ancient Greek and Roman jewels; the rest had to be content with facsimiles of objects discovered at Pompeii, or simple copies adapted from representations on early vase paintings, sculptures, or engraved gems.

So exaggerated became the enthusiasm for the antique that, following the lead of Madame Tallien and Madame Recamier, the fashionable s of the period adopted in its entirety, without regard for

differences of climate, what they deemed to be classical costume, and appeared on public promenades in Paris with un-stockinged feet in sandals that allowed them to exhibit jewels upon their toes. The affected classicism of the Republic and First Empire stimulated the use of engraved gems. Far from cameos and the less decorative intaglios being considered out of place with fine precious stones, they often occupied positions of honor, surrounded and mounted occasionally with important diamonds. In the majority of cases, however, they were used alone and were made up into special ornaments by themselves.


Antiques were worn when procurable, but the greater number of gems were of modern manufacture, carefully studied both as regards technique and style from ancient examples.Somewhat later, small mosaics, on which were figured classical subjects or buildings of ancient Rome, were also employed. These, together with cameos, generally on shell, were produced in quantities, particularly in Italy, where cameo cutters and mosaic workers still carry on a somewhat languishing trade in ornaments of this nature, Venice, Florence, and Rome sharing in the industry of mosaic jewelry ; Rome, Naples, and the whole of Southern Italy in that of cameos. The production of both kinds of objects is now in a sterilized condition. They have entirely lost their earlier qualities, for the reason that they find but little favor and have ceased to be worn by the upper classes. Except during the height of the First Empire the fashion for engraved gems never took a very thorough hold. Ladies have seldom a taste for archaeology.

If a few, in accordance with the current idea, affected a sober and refined style of ornament, the majority soon wearied of the burden of cameos in the necklace and bracelet, and preferred sparkling stones to the delicate cutting of the gem. The general and instinctive preference for brilliant jewels did more than anything to kill the attempted employment of antique forms and designs.

As regards to technique, the metal-work of the early nineteenth century generally displayed considerable poverty of material. The gold, if not pinch beck imitation, was usually thin, light, and of low quality, with simple designs in the form of clusters of grapes. Borders of leaves and flowers in the antique style were stamped and chased sometimes in open-work, with small rose-shaped ornaments applied. Granulated, beaded, and purled work was much employed, and the surface of the

metal was often matted.

Artistic effect in chased work was produced by the use of ornamental inlays, or rather overlays, of colored gold. Actual jewel-work and settings, as a rule, displayed good quality of workmanship. The general tendency lay in the direction of the colored stones popular in ancient times—the topaz, peridot, aquamarine, and amethyst; together with precious stones, such as emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds, and with pearls. The latter were generally reserved only for the most sumptuous ornaments, but were occasionally used in conjunction with jewels of less value. The stones most commonly used were carnelians, moss-agates, turquoises, garnets, pink and yellow topazes, as well as coral, mingled together.

Wedgwood ware and its imitations, popular in the latter years of the eighteenth century, continued for some time to meet with favor, while paste jewelry was also worn to some extent. On every species of jewelry the taste for the antique was clearly visible. Ornaments for the head took the form of frontlets and diadems, hair-combs, hair-pins, triple chains, and strings of pearls. Earrings were in general use, together with necklaces, brooches, bracelets, rings, and girdles. The chief head-ornaments were wide metal combs, fixed in the hair in such a manner as to be visible from the front. The general form of the Empire comb, with its upright rows of pearls or coral, is well known, since a number of examples exist. At the same time frontlets were worn on the upper part of the forehead and over the hair. These, enriched with pearls, cameos, or precious stones, took the form of broad bands or coronets.

Another ornament, which did not, however, come into fashion till about 1820, was a band round the head, with a jewel in the middle of the forehead. It was generally a fine gold chain, but might be made of velvet ribbon or silken cord, or strings of beads. The origin of its title has been given in connection with Italian jewelry of the fifteenth century.

Cameos and moss-agates entered largely into the composition of necklaces as well as the various colored stones mentioned above. Cameos often assumed considerable proportions. They were occasionally set with precious stones, and were linked together with fine chains. Bracelets were much worn, three on each arm: one on the upper part of the arm, a second just above the elbow, and a third upon the wrist. They were usually composed of a number of small chains, or even a band of velvet; while the clasp was formed by a cameo, or else an amethyst, peridot, or topaz set in stamped and pierced gold.

Girdles for the most part were fashioned in the same manner as bracelets, with a large cameo on the clasp. The pictures in the gallery at Versailles afford perhaps the best idea of ornaments in the Empire style ; since jewelry is more clearly represented on French portraits than on any others of the time. Among the most striking of such portraits are those of Marie Pauline, Princess Borghese, by Lefevre, of Caroline Buonaparte, Queen of Naples, by Madame Vigce-Lebrun, and of Madame Mere, by Gerard. The first has a high comb and bandeau, earrings, and girdle, all decorated with cameos, the second of pearls and cameos, and the third a head-ornament mounted with a single large cameo. The coronation of Napoleon in 1804 furnished the painter David with the subject of a picture unrivaled in its time which is exhibited in the Louvre. This grandiose production, besides being a truly epic rendering of a great historical event, serves as a valuable document in the history of jewelry, in that it represents jewelry of the most magnificent kind carried by Josephine, the princesses, and the ladies of honor.

The Empress is shown wearing comb and diadem of precious stones, brilliant earrings, and a bracelet on the wrist formed of two rows of jewels united with a cameo. Her suite have, besides, necklaces and girdles mounted in several cases with cameos. Josephine herself possessed a perfect passion for engraved gems, and she actually induced Napoleon to have a number of antique cameos and intaglios removed from the gem collection in the Royal Library and made up into a complete collection of jewelry for her own use.

A German specialty of the expiring Empire was the cast-iron jewelry, brought into favor largely on account of the prevailing scarcity of gold and silver. A foundry for its production was first set up in 1804 at Berlin, where articles of great fineness were cast in sand molds. In the year 1813, the time of the rising against the Napoleonic usurpation, more than eleven thousand pieces of iron jewelry were turned out, and among them five thousand crosses of the new order of the Iron Cross. In that year appeared the well-known iron rings. During the War of Liberation, when every man joined the Prussian regiments to fight against the French, the patriotic ladies who remained behind laid at the Altar of the Fatherland their valuable jewels, which were melted down for the benefit of the national war-chest.

For the articles thus surrendered they received in exchange from the Government iron finger rings. In addition to crosses and rings, other jewels, such as diadems, necklaces, brooches, and bracelets, were executed in cast iron, open-worked and in relief. Complete collections comprising a comb, necklace, earrings, and bracelets are not infrequently met with, and the name of the manufacturer is sometimes found stamped on them. Most of the work is in the antique taste, and is occasionally adorned with classical heads in the manner of Wedgwood and Tassie. Considering the material and method of production, the fineness and lace-like delicacy of this iron jewelry is little less than marvelous.

Another kind of nineteenth-century ornament, particularly popular in the first half of the century, was hair jewelry. It was favored possibly in some cases less by inclination than by that necessity which had originally led the way for the use of iron and other less valuable materials. Finger rings, bracelets, necklaces, and watch-chains were plaited of the hair of the departed, brooches and medallions mounted with it, and even ornamental landscapes constructed of strands of human hair. Hair was worn as a gift of affection from the living, but it was chiefly employed for mourning or memorial jewelry.

It will be referred to again when mourning jewelry is dealt with. We enter about the year 1830 into the Romantic period—the days of the heroines of Balzac, the days when Byron and Ossian were a la mode, the days of a fancy chivalry and medieval sentimentality SirWalter Scott, and above all of the Gothic revival. Gothic motives, rampant in architecture, make their appearance also on book bindings, furniture, and other things, and influence jewelry to a certain degree.

Among the leaders of the movement so far as it affected jewelry were the goldsmiths Froment Meurice, and Robin, whose productions, executed in accordance with the Romantic taste, assumed the form of armored knights, on foot, or fully equipped on horseback, lords and ladies in medieval costume, and jewels which took the shape of compositions of a similar “elegant” nature. At this period cameos were still worn, but seldom of strictly classical character. Sentimental hair jewelry likewise continued, as did the iron jewelry.

The latter, however, no longer displayed classical forms, but debased Gothic designs. Chains of various kinds were in considerable favor. They were usually looped up at intervals with circular or oblong plaques of thin and colored gold set amid small turquoises and garnets. With the development of machinery appeared thin gold-work, ornamented with stamped and pressed designs. Work of this kind, characteristic of its first decades, extended far into the nineteenth century.

As far as men’s jewelry is concerned there is little or nothing to chronicle. Strangely enough, the masculine delight in splendid jewels that had existed up to the end of the eighteenth century, came all at once to an end, along with that older world on the ruins of which Napoleon rose. Almost all that remained to them was the bunch of seals, often of considerable size, that hung by a silken cord from the fob.

It is true that occasionally beaus and macaronis actually wore earrings. But these were not employed solely as ornaments, but largely as the result of a fanciful idea, still prevalent in certain quarters, of the value of such objects against diseases of the eye. Fashion next, about the middle of the century, harked back to rococo, and imitated the style of Louis XV. It was rococo of a kind, but lay as far from the eighteenth century as did Romantic Gothic from the Gothic of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Design for the most part was deplorably bad, defects in this direction being passed off under a glitter of stones. Instead of the close setting which had so long satisfied the Jewell, open setting for precious stones became universal. Countless old and valuable ornaments perished. The diamonds and other precious stones were picked out of them and transferred to newer settings, and the beautiful old metal-work was ruthlessly melted down.

Many fine jewels during the course of the nineteenth century have likewise been spoiled and reduced in value by their owners attempting to adapt them to a prevailing fashion. Vast is the number of family treasures that have undergone the fate of mounting. It is to be hoped that the new-born

interest in the beautiful work of earlier craftsmen may help to save what is left from the same sort of destruction that the ancient churches of our land have undergone as the result of ill-judged ” restoration.”


Long prior to the developments that have taken place in recent years, attention had been attracted to the artistic qualities of gold and an impetus given to the manipulation of the simple material. It was early in the “sixties” that notice was first drawn to the gold jewelry then being executed in Rome, and the discoveries that had been effected in the working of the wrought metal by the firm of Castellani. The head of this famous family was the goldsmith Fortunate Pio Castellani, one of the best-known jewelers and dealers of his day.

In 1814, at an early age, he started a business in Rome, which he developed about 1826 on the lines of the antique work. The process of production of the old granulated gold jewelry of the ancient Etruscans—that in which the surface is covered with minute grains of gold set with absolute regularity—had long been a puzzle and problem to jewelers.

Castellani was deeply interested in the lost art, and searched Italy through to find some survival of it. At last in St. Angelo in Vado, a village of the Apennines, in the corner of the Umbrian Marches, he found a caste of local goldsmiths who had preserved it in what seemed to be an unbroken tradition. He transported some of them to Rome, and together with his sons Alessandro and Augusto succeeded in imitating the tiny golden grains of the Etruscans and soldering them on to the surface of jewels. The work he accomplished in this direction has become famous all the world over.

In 1851 Fortunate retired, and on his death in 1865 his property was divided—Augusto retaining the business, Alessandro setting himself up as a collector and dealer. Augusto, born 1829, carried on the traditions of his father’s atelier, and was afterwards promoted to the Directorship of the Capitoline Museum. Alessandro, the elder brother, was perhaps one of the most striking personalities of his age. Born in 1824, he first assisted his father; but his political opinions, which led him to take an active part in the revolutionary movement in Rome in 1848,and implicated him in the conspiracy of 1852, resulted in his imprisonment in the Castle of St. Angelo, but successfully feigning madness, he was liberated and sent out of the Pontifical States.

He then proceeded to travel about exploiting the productions of the Casa Castellani. Gradually he devoted himself to archaeological pursuits. His knowledge of these matters was profound, and he became the finest expert of his day. He was continually collecting, and dealt largely, his chief customers being the museums of Europe and America. The finest of the antique jewelry in the British Museum was purchased from him in 1872-1873. A few years before, in 1867, his unrivaled series of peasant ornaments, gathered together from all parts of Italy, was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, which also made large purchases at the sale that took place after his death in 1883. The art of filigree and granulation practiced by Castellani was carried to still greater perfection by another Italian, Carlo Giuliano, who was largely indebted to the discoveries of his compatriot.

Examples of his work, with that of Castellani, are in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Since his death, his business house in London has been continued by his sons. Another Italian who has surpassed both Castellani and Giuliano in the reproduction of the antique is Melillo of Naples. His jewelry, though “copied closely from ancient models, has a certain modern cachet” and is in fact “a translation of the most refined ancient art into modern language.” An eminent English jeweler, whose name is worthy of record, was Robert Phillips of London, who died in 1881. He also came under the influence of Castellani.

At the same time he was responsible for the production of some of the most original work executed in England during the Victorian era. A forerunner in France of the modern movement in artistic jewelry, and one entitled to a high place in the history of the art, was the goldsmith Lucien Falize (b. 1838), who was a partner with M. Bapst, crown jeweler of the Second Empire. He succeeded Bapst as official goldsmith to the French Government, and died in 1897. Another great French jeweler was Eugene Fontenay, author of the important history of jewelry, who died in 1885.

Side by side with the improvement in taste which during the last few years has prompted people to preserve old jewelry, and a genuine love for its peculiar and indefinable attractions which has induced them to collect it, the present age has witnessed a truly remarkable revival in the artistic production of articles of personal ornament.

The general awakening that has taken place in the industrial arts has nowhere made its influence more strongly felt than in respect to jewelry. Owing to the example set by the highest artistic spirits, which has affected even the ordinary productions of commerce, there has arisen a new school of jewelry, the residue of which, when the chaff of eccentricity on the one hand and coarse workmanship on the other is winnowed from it, consists in works which combine the charm and sense of appropriateness requisite to objects of personal adornment with qualities that mark them as individual works of art.

The ornaments of the past reveal an elemental truth of art which it may be to the ultimate advantage of the decorative artificer of modern times to study and to imitate. They show, particularly in their most refined periods, that the simplest materials and the simplest modes of decoration can be associated with beauty of form and purity of design, and that the value of a personal ornament does not consist solely in the commercial cost of the materials, but rather in the artistic quality of its treatment. In the revival of the arts in the latter part of the nineteenth century the artistic styles of the past began to be carefully studied, and for the first time were brought together and exhibited as models. They have undoubtedly exercised a profound influence both on design and technique.

It is well at the same time to remember, that personal ornaments, as indeed all productions of former times, which are thus shown in museums, must not be reckoned with from one standpoint only. The intention of their public display is to afford material for instruction, investigation, and inspiration, for the craftsman, the student, and the ” man in the street.” Their function in this respect is not only to produce artists and craftsmen, or even connoisseurs, but to inspire the lay public with a love of beauty, and to induce a divine discontent with the ugliness with which it is surrounded. Though it is very well to use and reproduce the forms and motives of the past, an indefinite persistence in that attitude is liable to be construed as a confession of aesthetic sterility. But while empty revivals and false adaptations are to be rejected, the reckless race after originality, resulting in the eccentricity which is so rife in modern art, should especially be avoided. It is the desire for originality instead of a modest devotion to fine workmanship, “a love for the outrageous and the bizarre, and a lack of proportion, both in form and in choice of material,” that has ruined much of the jewelry produced under the this period of time Art movement.

If color and form produced by a study of harmony and a limited appeal to nature could be united to elaboration and minuteness of finish, with symmetrical arrangements freed from purely mechanical detail of ornament; if more insight could be obtained into the spirit which produced those splendid fragments that have survived from the past, there would be a gradual return to a style of work wherein the inherent preciousness of material might be accompanied by a fuller appreciation of its artistic possibilities, and a way opened to the restoration of the art of the goldsmith to the honorable place it once held.

Apart from matters of design the new movement has resulted in great changes in the artistic aspect of jewelry. In distinction to the tendency hitherto prevalent which bids the metal mounting of jewelry to be rendered almost invisible, the working of gold and silver has once again become a matter of some moment. A second change, due to the study of old models, has been the revival of enameling—an art which offers many an opportunity for the exercise of the craftsman’s taste and skill, and has once again resumed its proper position as handmaid to the goldsmith. A third change has been the wider choice and employment of stones. Till recent years only those stones that are reckoned as fine—the diamond, ruby, emerald, and sapphire—have been allowed a place in jewelry.

Though their commercial value can never be set aside, precious stones are now valued, as they were in Renaissance times, for the sake of their decorative properties. The taste for color effects in jewelry has resulted in the adoption of certain gems not very precious, yet sufficiently rare, while the artistic value of broken color in gems is beginning to be appreciated in purely commercial productions. There is now a welcome tendency to use such stones as the aquamarine, peridot, zircon, topaz, tourmaline and others of beautiful color and high decorative value. For a precious stone, as has been truly said, ” is not beautiful because it is large, or costly, or extraordinary, but because of its color, or its position in some decorative scheme.”

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Using Ornaments Made Of Christmas Beads During Christmas Festival — Fashion Beads and Accessories

During Christmas day each and everybody wants to have a fancy ornaments especially made of Christmas beads. Beads are well known for making glittering ornaments and that is why we always like to make our Christmas ornaments using them. In this case, we have to use Christmas beads to for making our ornaments. On the […]

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