RENAISSANCE GIRDLES, PENDANTS (MIRRORS, BOOKS, WATCHES, SCENT-CASES, AND POMANDERS)

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THE girdle is an important ornament in the dress of the Renaissance. From the beginning of the sixteenth century it differs considerably from the medieval pattern already discussed. In place of the stiff hoop about the hips, it was worn loosely across the body from above the right hip down towards the left thigh, where the upper garment was passed over it in a light fold. At this point was the clasp, from which hung numerous small articles necessary to the active housewife. Another style of wearing it, which appears to have been adopted for more sumptuous dress, was one where it more firmly encircled the body, and from a clasp in front, hung down in a long end, terminating in a special ornamental appendage—a scent-case or pomander.

The common material was leather or stuff, such as was employed for men’s girdles. The long and narrow thong of leather was worn by all classes. The majority of Renaissance girdles, confined solely to female attire, were made entirely of silver or silver gilt, and even of silvered or gilded bronze. They took the form of flat chains composed of links, generally with solid pieces in the shape of oblong plaques, of cast or chased work, introduced at regular intervals. The solid parts, particularly those that formed the clasps, were occasionally enriched with enamels, precious stones, or engraved gems.

The majority of collections contain specimens of such girdles; but simpler kinds, composed entirely of ring-shaped links, which, judging from numerous Flemish, Dutch, and German portraits, must have been in very general use in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are much less frequently met with. A good example of such, a chain in silver-gilt, of German work of the second half of the sixteenth century, is preserved at Brussels.

It is formed of rounded grooved links. At one end is a rosette-shaped girdle plate set with a white crystal, and having a hook behind to catch into any link of the chain. The other end terminates in a pear-shaped pomander divided for the reception of different cosmetics into two parts.

A considerable number of girdles of leather or strips of material are found mounted after the medieval style with buttons or studs, and instead of clasps, have buckles at one end, and at the other the pendants common in earlier times.

It is not unusual to meet with girdles of Flemish or German work which, though dating from the latter part of the seventeenth century, are ornamented with Gothic patterns. The buckle and pendant {mordant), deeply pierced with open-work tracery of flamboyant design, are generally united by only a short thong, and are so overcharged with ornament that it is doubtful if they could have been of any practical use. Such objects appear in reality to be but specimens of their work submitted by girdlers who were desirous of obtaining admission to the Girdlers’ Company.

They serve to show how long-lived were Gothic traditions among the guilds. Examples in silver or bronze gilt are to be found in the Germanic Museum, Nuremberg, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Wallace Collection, and in many other public collections.

A number of articles, both useful and ornamental, were suspended from the girdle. For practical purposes the housewife carried at her side, besides a knife, such objects as small scissors in a case, a purse, and also her keys. Cases for knives were attached either by silken cords or by chains. When cords were employed the cover was furnished with loops on each side through which the cords slid.

Open quiver-like sheaths for knives hung by chains were often worn, in order to display the rich decoration of the knife-heads. The Italianate costume, such as is found in the type of ” Vanity” in emblem books of the age, and which made its way everywhere, favored the addition of many other accessories to the girdles, such as fans, gloves, looking-glasses, books, watches, scent-cases, and pomanders.

Mirrors, besides being worn from the neck, formed, as did miniature-cases, a frequent pendant from the girdle. These were either in a frame of ivory or goldsmith’s work, or inserted in the fan. Their handles terminate with small rings for attachment by a chain to the girdle. In the Louvre is an interesting pendent mirror-case, or rather back of a mirror, formed of an oval plaque of glass encrusted with designs in enamel on gold.

RENAISSANCE GIRDLE PENDANTS bearing inscriptions, and small books, mainly devotional, were also worn at the girdle. It appears to have been a common practice for ladies to carry such books. Queen Elizabeth had several. Among the jewels given to Queen Elizabeth in1582, was “a little book of gold enameled. Diamond and rubies, with clasps all hung from a chain of gold.

The inventory of the jewels of the Duchess of Somerset, widow of the Protector, in 1587, likewise contains a book of gold enameled black. Two drawings for small pendent books intended to be in black enamel appear among Holbein’s designs for jewelry in the British Museum, and the Earl of Romney possesses a small manuscript Prayer Book in binding of enameled gold of the same style. The most magnificent book-cover in existence, provided with loops for hanging by a chain to the girdle, is one preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is of enameled gold, and has been ascribed to Cellini. Of less beauty, though of great interest as an example of English work, is the gold binding of a pendent Prayer Book in the British Museum.

The subjects on the sides, raised and enameled, are the Brazen Serpent, and the Judgment of Solomon, with English inscriptions around. It is said to be the work of George Heriot of Edinburgh, and there is a tradition that it was worn by Queen Elizabeth. Whatever associations this object may have had with Elizabeth, there is better authority for such with regard to the small book of prayers, the property of Lord Fitz-hardinge, and one of the Hunsdon heirlooms.

This very interesting English jewel is of gold, inlaid with black enamel, with a rosette of white enamel at each corner. The center of one cover is decorated with translucent red and green enamel, that of the other with a shell cameo. It contains the last prayer of King Edward VI in MS. written on vellum.

Though occasionally worn suspended from the neck-chain, watches appear to have been more frequently carried at the girdle—a position somewhat similar to that which they subsequently occupied upon the chatelaine. The honor of the invention of portable timepieces is probably due to Peter Henlein, of Nuremberg, in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, but it was not till a century later that they came into anything like general use.

The cases, which received the same beautiful enrichment in the way of enamel-work and precious stones as was bestowed on other personal ornaments of the time,were made to emit the sound of the ticking and striking, and the lid was pierced with an aperture over each hour, through which the position of the hand might be seen.

Not only square, oval, octagonal, and cruciform watches occur, but some in such fanciful shapes as death’s-heads, books, shells, acorns, tulips, pears, etc.; while rock crystal (to render the works visible) and other stones were often converted into cases. Oval watches, known as ” Nuremberg eggs,” are usually reckoned among the earliest, but this title was not given to watches till some time after their invention. All egg-watches that have been preserved belong to the seventeenth century.

In Hollar’s set of plates of the Four Seasons, dated 1641, the lady representing Summer has on her left side depending from her girdle an object of this shape, apparently a watch. The most important pendent ornament to the girdle, from the present point of view, is the pomander, the early history of which has already been alluded to.

Throughout the sixteenth, and until about the middle of the century following, the pomander formed an almost invariable adjunct” to the girdle, and was occasionally, in the case of men, hung to the long and heavy chains worn at that period round the neck.’ Most of the pendants still termed pomanders were, as has been already noted, in reality cases for scents or different cosmetics; but from their fruit-like shape, though often innocent of the original pomander ball, they have retained the title, but solely, it would seem, in our own language. I will have my pomander of most sweet smell, also my chains of gold to hang about my neck said many of this period of time.

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RENAISSANCE RINGS, BRACELETS, BUTTONS, AND BROOCHES

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THE splendor-loving sixteenth century far surpassed the Middle Ages in the use of the finger rings. No other ornament of the Renaissance attained such richness and profusion. In sixteenth and seventeenth century portraits rings are represented in such quantities that the hands appear overburdened with them; while the number entered in the old inventories is astounding.

Yet it is well to remember that the word ring, was a general term for all pendent jewels—though not infrequently a distinction in the lists is drawn between ring, earring and pendant. The extraordinary abundance of finger rings in use at the time may best be judged by a list in the inventory of Henry VIII of the year 1530, which contains no less than 234. Of the large number of Renaissance rings that have survived, most are of a purely ornamental character; and though many others are of interest on account of their emblematic or historical associations, those which display artistic work require the chief consideration.

Out of all the rings that simply served the purpose of decoration, there are very few whose nationality can be easily determined. If it is difficult in the case of pendants and similar ornaments to come to a decision with regard to the question of provenance, it is even more so where rings are concerned.

Pictures of the period, as has been said, represent persons with their hands heavily loaded with rings, which are worn upon all the fingers, the thumb included. Every finger-joint up to the very nail is covered with them, and they are worn, as by the ancient Romans, even upon the knuckles. The great projection of the rings’ bezels would have rendered the use of gloves impossible, were it not, as we know from pictures, for the custom of placing the rings outside the gloves, and also for the somewhat ugly fashion of slitting the fingers of the gloves, in order that they might be worn with greater comfort, and allow the rings themselves to be displayed.

In a portrait of a lady by Lucas Cranach in the National Gallery, rings are worn both over and beneath the gloves, every finger and the thumbs having two or three. The rings under the gloves appear on the top of the second knuckle of every finger, and are visible through the marks made in the gloves at these points. In other pictures by this artist, such as that entitled ” Judith ” at Vienna, and in the works of his contemporaries in Germany, the same slashed gloves are to be seen. Men’s gloves, too, like their doublets, were slashed.

A signet ring of Bristol diamond is revealed through the cut in his glove to show his pride, That his trim jewel might be better viewed. The tendency of placing the stone in a very high bezel was a tradition from the Middle Ages, where a preference had always been shown for the stone being so set.

The ornamental rings of the Renaissance 1 followed a uniform outline as far as their bezels and settings were concerned. They contained, as a rule, one stone only, backed by foil and set in a boxlike Colette, square and pyramidal, and closed behind. The gold was rubbed over the setting edge of the stone, and the four side surfaces then decorated in a variety of ways by the application of enamel, and sometimes overlaid with an additional ornamentation in imitation of claws.

The stone itself, usually table-cut, was frequently a ruby. One peculiar variety of ring, known from the early part of the fifteenth century, is deserving of note. Its design was founded upon the natural shape of the diamond, and was distinguished by a very high bezel, which received one half of the shape and allowed the other to project upwards. Rings set thus with pointed diamonds were in high favor until the middle of the seventeenth century, and were employed for writing upon glass—a practice

which appears to have been much in vogue.

Several old portraits exhibit rings strung upon men’s necklaces, or hung from a thin cord round the neck. A portrait in the Berlin Gallery, shows a ring worn thus, and in two portraits by Lucas Cranach— representing Johann Fried-rich of Saxony attired as a bridegroom, and the other at Dresden, of the Elector Johann the Constant of Saxony (1526)—rings are hung similarly round the neck. Rings were also worn in the hat. A round the cap is fixed a thin wire-shaped band of gold, with a strip of cloth wound spirally round it. The latter serves to fix at regular intervals four gold rings, three of them set with cabochon stones and the fourth with a pointed diamond. A similar kind of decoration is alluded to where a servant is mentioned carrying” to a maiden an enameled posy ring which his master had worn sewn upon his hat. The rings worn thus were in many cases betrothal or engagement rings ; but those that served this purpose generally assumed special forms, and were among the most ingenious productions of the time. They were composed of twin or double hoops. The outer side of the two hoops was convex and elaborately ornamented, while the inner side was flat and often bore some inscription.

The two hoops were wrought so exactly alike, that, together with the stones, they appeared to be one ring yet could be separated, and the one hung from the other. Their bezels were occasionally formed of clasped hands. Ordinary one-hoop rings also bore the same design. Another kind of betrothal or engagement ring was the “posy” ring, generally of simple form, with a verse, a name, or a motto engraved inside it. The posy ring, suitably inscribed, was also used as a wedding-ring. The simple posy ring belongs, however, chiefly to the seventeenth century. The elaborate betrothal ring seems to have been employed at this time as a wedding-ring as well. It was reserved for modern times to give the wedding-ring its smooth, convenient, but artistically unimportant form. Widely distributed among the North German peasantry are certain peculiar wedding-rings, which, as a rule, contain a couple of the heart-shaped milk-teeth of the young roe-buck, with a small lock from which hang two keys—a symbol which perhaps not inaptly indicates the union of two pure hearts.

Dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but wholly different from the Renaissance form of ring, and very large and elaborate, are the Jewish wedding-rings, which were used only at the ceremony and then preserved by the family. They are composed of a broad band adorned with filigree (probably in keeping with some ancient Oriental tradition) arranged in bosses and rosettes and enriched with light blue, light green, and other enamel. In place of a bezel there is often the model of a building with high gabled roofs and enameled tiles, pierced by windows, and having movable weathercocks on the apex; an inscription in Hebrew characters on the shank contains the motto ” Good star.”

It was the custom to arrange finger rings upon a rod when not in use or when exposed for exhibition in the jeweler’s shop, and in paintings it is no uncommon thing to see a line of rings of various patterns what appears to be a roll of parchment.

In Henry VIII’s inventory of 1527 we find: “Upon a finger-stall, seven rings, one a ruby, another an emerald, and a turquoise, another a table diamond, another a triangular diamond, another a rocky diamond”; also in 1530: “A roll with thirty-nine Paris rings, with small stones.”

In the Duke of Newcastle’s comedy mention is made of an extravagant person “who makes his fingers like jewelers’ cards to set rings upon.” In Munich, is a most interesting picture by Paris Bordone representing a jeweler with a quantity of his treasures lying on a table before him. Every item is painted with extreme care. Twelve massive finger rings, arranged in three rows of four, are displayed in an oblong ring-box, just in the same manner as one might expect to find them in a jeweler’s shop of the present day. A somewhat similar picture by Lorenzo Lotto, in the Kaufmann Collection in Berlin, represents a jeweler holding in his left hand a box full of rings and in his right a single specimen.

By far the most attractive of the fine engravings of jewelry by Pierre Woeiriot of Lorraine is his beautiful set of rings. M. Foulc, of Paris, is generally credited with the possession of the only complete set of these engravings. A perfect specimen of the work is, however, preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, to which it was bequeathed by the well-known antiquary Francis Douce in 1834. It comprises forty plates, each containing one or more rings to the number of ninety-six, and furnishes striking examples of the taste and inventive genius then bestowed on these minute objects.

Nevertheless, engravings can convey but small idea of the color effect, and the wonderful charm that the actual rings possess. In order to fully appreciate them, one must visit the three great English collections of them now accessible to the public: the South Kensington Collection, containing the greater part of that formed by Edmund Waterton ; the Drury Fortnum Collection in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford ; and above all, the collection in the British Museum, which includes the splendid series bequeathed by Sir A. W. Franks, in which were absorbed the Braybrooke, Londesborough, and some minor cabinets, together with the best from the Soden Smith Collection, as well as the choicest from the Pichon and from many foreign sales.

The bracelet during this period plays ‘a scarcely more prominent part than it did in the Middle Ages, and probably owing to the same reason ; for in Renaissance times the fashion of leaving the arms bare was not in favor, and the long sleeves that fell over the hand were retained. A few examples presented by pictures lead to the supposition that bracelets consisted of beads of amber or jet separated by balls of gold, or of rows of cameos.

Catarina Cornaro in her portrait by Titian in the Uffizi wears a bracelet upon her wrist over the sleeve, while the portrait of a lady by Cranach in the National Gallery shows that the sleeves were occasionally slashed at the wrists to exhibit the bracelets beneath them, just as were the fingers of gloves for the purpose of displaying rings. Inventories supply a certain amount of information concerning bracelets. Henry VIII in1530 possessed seventeen, including one of “Paris work, one with eight diamonds, eight rubies, fourteen pearls, and a diamond rose.”

Elizabeth received a large number of bracelets among her New Year’s gifts. In the inventory of Mary Stuart’s jewels are ” Others are formed, as were necklaces, of beads of filigree enclosing perfumes: “References to bracelets by writers of the period show-that they were not infrequently worn as love tokens. Thus in Beaumont and Fletcher’s Cupids Revenge :— Given ear-rings we will wear Bracelets of our lovers’ hair, Which they on our arms shall twist With our names carved on our wrist.

Contemporary designs prove that bracelets followed the same elaborate forms as other articles of jewelry, as may be seen from the engraved designs of Ducerceau, and the Livre de Bijouterie of Rene Boyvin of Angers (1530-1598). One of the most interesting bracelets—as far as actual specimens are concerned—is preserved at Berkeley Castle among the heirlooms bequeathed by George Carey, Lord Hunsdon, who died in 1603. It is of crystal and gold, 31 inches in diameter. The crystal, a complete circlet overlaid with open-work gold, is encrusted all round with rubies, and has at intervals four clusters of rubies around a sapphire.

It is somewhat difficult to arrive at a decision as to the origin of this remarkable object. It seems to bear traces of Oriental influence in the setting of the stones, though the gold work is of different quality from what one would expect to find in Indian work. If, like the jewel at Berkeley, this armlet is to be associated with Sir Francis Drake, it may well have been obtained by him as part of some Spanish spoil, in like manner to the ” crystal bracelet set in gold” procured by Sir Matthew Morgan at the capture of Cadiz in 1596— Cadiz being then the staple town for all the trades of the Levant and of the Indies. Bracelets formed of cameos are met with sometimes on portraits.

A pair of bracelets formed each of seven oval shell cameos representing figures of animals, enclosed in gold mounting enriched with blue enamel, and hinged together by a double chain ornamented with rosettes enameled green. On the under side of the larger cameos which form the clasps are two interlacing C’s within a wreath of palm and olive, enameled green, and a barred S in blue enamel at each angle. These bracelets, of which the cameos as well as the mountings are of fine sixteenth-century work, have been traditionally associated with Diana of Poitiers. But the interlaced C’s, according to M. Babelon, are in all probability the initials of some lady of the family of Harlay, from whom the bracelets were acquired. Bracelets, like necklaces, were not infrequently composed entirely of gold, with interwoven links, like mail-chains.

RENAISSANCE BUTTONS fluted links, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Its clasp is enriched with a floral pattern in translucent enamel. Three similar bracelets forming part of the Holtzendorff treasure from Pinnow (Ucker-Mark,N. Germany) are in the Germanic Museum, Nuremberg. They are composed of circular links, and have flat clasps like the bracelet just mentioned, ornamented with coats of arms in enamel.

One of the most important of ornaments throughout the Middle Ages was the brooch ; but towards the end of the fifteenth century the mode of wearing garments changed, and brooches disappeared little by little, till in Renaissance times they were rarely employed, except as ornaments for the hat. It is true that sixteenth-century inventories contain an immense number of brooches—Henry VIII had no less than 324—but nearly all these, the larger ones especially, were worn as enseignes upon the hat; while the smaller were employed not as dress fasteners, but simply as ornaments sewn or pinned at regular intervals upon the front of the dress or the borders of the sleeves.

A single elaborate jeweled brooch is sometimes seen in pictures attached to the upper part of the sleeve. We see it thus on the figure of Arithmetic in a famous fresco of the Vatican, and later in English pictures, notably the well-known painting in Sherborne Castle, Dorset, representing Queen Elizabeth’s procession.

The ladies of her retinue have jewels fastened to the sleeves of their right arms. The garments of this period were not fastened by means of brooches, but were closed with buttons or points, or with hooks and eyes. Sleeves were often held on by buttons to which the sleeve-loops or points were tied, while other portions of the clothing, especially if of leather and cumbersome to button, were secured with loops or hooks and eyes.

The slashing of the dress were sometimes closed by buttons or pompoms formed of stones surrounded by pearls. Similar button-like ornaments, jeweled and richly enameled, of which examples exist, were worn in rows all over the dress, but their delicate form and often irregular shape exclude the supposition that they were used as actual buttons. Of ornaments of this kind Mary Queen of Scots possessed a large number.

These individual jeweled ornaments, which it was the practice to sew on the dress at regular intervals by way of trimming, may be treated as distinct from ornamentation which formed part of the actual costume, such as masses of pearls and precious stones, with which dresses were literally loaded. Individual jewels often took the form of the monogram, crest, or device of the owner, in pure gold richly decorated. A curious instance of this custom has already been alluded to in connection with what occurred during the masque given by Henry VIII at Westminster. The fashion for wearing ornaments in the form of jeweled initials was still in vogue on the quilted dresses of the time of James I. Anne of Denmark is represented in her portraits wearing them both on her ruff and in her hair, and a “jewel, in form of an A and two CC, sett with diamonds ” and others of similar kind are to be found in the lists of jewels supplied to the Queen by George Heriot.

Except occasionally for buttons, the chief means employed for fastening the garments was by ornamental loops or eyelets, formed of cords terminating with goldsmith’s work, were movable and were changed from one dress to another according to pleasure. They are seen in pictures hanging not only from slashes and various parts of the garments, but also from the cap; and Henry VIII is described as wearing a cap ornamented with gold enameled tags.

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CHRISTMAS-GIVING AND CHRISTMAS-LIVING

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THE custom of exchanging presents on a certain day in the year is very much older than Christmas, and means very much less. It is a tradition in almost all ages of the world, and among many different nations. It is a fine thing or a foolish thing, as the case may be; an encouragement to friendliness, or a tribute to fashion; an expression of good nature, or a bid for favor; an outgoing of generosity, or a disguise of greed; a cheerful old custom, or a futile old farce, according to the spirit which animates it and the form which it takes.

But when this ancient and variously interpreted tradition of a day of gifts was transferred to the Christmas season, it was brought into vital contact with an idea which must transform it, and with an example which must lift it up to a higher plane. The example is the life of Jesus. The idea is unselfish interest in the happiness of others. The great gift of Jesus to the world was himself. He lived with and for men. He kept back nothing. In every particular and personal gift that he made to certain people there was something of himself that made it precious. For example, at the wedding in Canaan of Galilee, it was his thought for the feelings of the giver of the feast, and his wish that every guest should find due entertainment, that lent the favor of a heavenly hospitality to the wine which he provided.

When he gave bread and fish to the hungry multitude who had followed him out among the hills by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were refreshed and strengthened by the sense of the personal care of Jesus for their welfare, as much as by the food which he bestowed upon them. It was another illustration of the sweetness of “a dinner of herbs, where love is.” The gifts of healing which he conferred upon many different kinds of sufferers were, in every case, evidences that Jesus was willing to give something of himself, his thought, his sympathy, his vital power, to the men and women among whom he lived.

Once, when a paralytic was brought to Jesus on a bed, he surprised everybody, and offended many, by giving the poor wretch the pardon of his sins, before he gave new life to his body. That was just because Jesus thought before he gave; because he desired to satisfy the deepest need; because in fact he gave something of himself in every gift. All true Christmas-giving ought to be after this pattern.

Not that it must all be solemn and serious. For the most part it deals with little wants, little joys, little tokens of friendly feeling. But the feeling must be more than the token; else the gift does not really belong to Christmas. It takes time and effort and unselfish expenditure of strength to make gifts in this way. But it is the only way that fits the season.

The finest Christmas gift is not the one that costs the most money, but the one that carries the most love. But how seldom Christmas comes— only once a year; and how soon it is over—a night and a day! If that is the whole of it, it seems not much more durable than the little toys that one buys on the street-corner. They run for an hour, and then the spring breaks, and the legs come off and nothing remains but a contribution to the dust heap. But surely that need not and ought not to be the whole of Christmas —only a single day of generosity, ransomed from the dull servitude of a selfish year,—only a single night of merry-making, celebrated in the slave-quarters of a selfish race!

If every gift is the token of a personal thought, a friendly feeling, an unselfish interest in the joy of others, then the thought, the feeling, the interest, may remain after the gift is made.

The little present, or the rare and long-wished-for gift (it matters not whether the vessel be of gold, or silver, or iron, or wood, or clay, or just a small bit of birch bark folded into a cup), may carry a message something like this:

“I am thinking of you to-day, because it is Christmas, and I wish you happiness. And to-morrow, because it will be the day after Christmas, I shall still wish you happiness; and so on, clear through the year. I may not be able to tell you about it every day, because I may be far away; or because both of us may be very busy; or perhaps because I cannot even afford to pay the postage on so many letters, or find the time to write them. But that makes no difference.

The thought and the wish will be here just the same. In my work and in the business of life, I mean to try not to be unfair to you or injure you in any way. In my pleasure, if we can be together, I would like to share the fun with you. Whatever joy or success comes to you will make me glad. Without pretense, and in plain words, good-will to you is what I mean, in the Spirit of Christmas.

It is not necessary to put a message like this into high-flown language, to swear absolute devotion and deathless consecration. In love and friendship, small, steady payments on a gold basis are better than immense promissory notes. Nor, indeed, is it always necessary to put the message into words at all, nor even to convey it by a tangible token. To feel it and to act it out—that is the main thing.

There are a great many people in the world whom we know more or less, but to whom for various reasons we cannot very well send a Christmas gift. But there is hardly one, in all the circles of our acquaintance, with whom we may not exchange the touch of Christmas life.

In the outer circles, cheerful greetings, courtesy, consideration; in the inner circles, sympathetic interest, hearty congratulations, honest encouragement; in the “inmost” circle, comradeship, helpfulness, tenderness,— ” Beautiful friendship tried by sun and wind Durable from the daily dust of life.” After all, Christmas-living each and every day is the best kind of Christmas-giving.

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The Spirit of Christmas by Henry V an Dyke 1905: A Dream Story

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IT was the hour of rest in the Country Beyond the Stars. All the silver bells that swing with the turning of the great ring of light which lies around that land were softly chiming; and the sound of their commotion went down like dew upon the golden ways of the city, and the long alleys of blossoming trees, and the meadows of asphodel, and the curving shores of blossoming trees, and the meadows of asphodel, and the curving shores of the River of Life.

At the hearing of that chime, all the angels who had been working turned to play, and all who had been playing gave themselves joyfully to work. Those who had been singing, and making melody on different instruments, fell silent and began to listen. Those who had beer walking alone in meditation met together in companies to talk. And those who had been far away on errands to the Earth and other planets came homeward like a flight of swallows to the high cliff when the day is over.

It was not that they needed to be restored from weariness, for the inhabitants of that country never say, “I am tired.” But there, as here, the law of change is the secret of happiness, and the joy that never ends is woven of mingled strands of labor and repose, society and solitude, music and silence. Sleep comes to them not as it does to us, with a darkening of the vision and a folding of the wings of the spirit, but with an opening of the eyes to deeper and fuller light, and with an effortless outgoing of the soul upon broader currents of life, as the sun-loving bird poises and circles upward, without a wing-beat, on the upholding air.

It was in one of the quiet corners of the green valley called Peace field, where the little brook of Bright hopes runs smoothly down to join the River of Life, that I saw a company of angels, returned from various labors on Earth, sitting in friendly converse on the hill-side, where cyclamens and arbutus and violets and fringed orchids and pale lady’s-tresses, and all the sweet-smelling flowers which are separated in the lower world by the seasons, were thrown together in a harmony of fragrance.

There were three of the company who seemed to be leaders, distinguished not only by more radiant and powerful looks, but by a tone of authority in their speech and by the willing attention with which the others listened to them, as they talked of their earthly tasks, of the tangles and troubles, the wars and miseries that they had seen among men, and of the best way to get rid of them and bring sorrow to an end.

The Earth is full of oppression and unrighteousness,” said the tallest and most powerful of the angels. His voice was deep and strong, and by his shining Armour and the long two-handed sword hanging over his shoulder I knew that he was the archangel Michael, the mightiest one among the warriors of the King, and the executor of the divine judgments upon the unjust. The Earth is tormented with injustice,” he cried, “and the great misery that I have seen among men is that the evil hand is often stronger than the good hand and can beat it down.

The arm of the cruel is heavier than the arm of the kind. The unjust get the better of the just and tread on them. I have seen tyrant kings crush their helpless folk. I have seen the fields of the innocent trampled into bloody ruin by the feet of conquering armies. I have seen the wicked nation overcome the peoples that loved liberty, and take away their treasure by force of arms. I have seen poverty mocked by arrogant wealth, and purity deflowered by brute violence, and gentleness and fair-dealing bruised in the wine press of iniquity and pride.

There is no cure for this evil, but by the giving of greater force to the good hand. The righteous cause must be strengthened with might to resist the wicked, to defend the helpless, to punish all cruelty and unfairness, to uphold the right everywhere, and to enforce justice with unconquerable arms.

Oh, that the host of Heaven might be called, arrayed, and sent to mingle in the wars of men, to make the good victorious, to destroy all evil, and to make the will of the King prevail! “We would shake down the thrones of tyrants, and loose the bands of the oppressed. We would hold the cruel and violent with the bit of fear, and drive the greedy and fierce-minded men with the whip of terror. We would stand guard, with weapons drawn, about the innocent, the gentle, the kind, and keep the peace of God with the sword of the angels!

As he spoke, his hands were lifted to the hilt of this long blade, and he raised it above him, straight and shining, throwing sparkles of light around it, like the spray from the sharp prow of a moving ship. Bright flames of heavenly ardor leaped in the eyes of the listening angels; a martial air passed over their faces as if they longed for the call to war. But no silver trumpet blared from the battlements of the City of God; no crimson flag was unfurled on those high, secret walls; no thrilling drum-beat echoed over the smooth meadow.

Only the sound of the brook of Bright hopes was heard tinkling and murmuring among the roots of the grasses and flowers; and far off a cadence of song drifted down from the inner courts of the Palace of the King.

Then another angel began to speak, and made answer to Michael. He, too, was tall and wore the look of power. But it was power of the mind rather than of the hand. His face was clear and glistening, and his eyes were lit with a steady flame which neither leaped nor fell. Of flame also were his garments, which clung about him as the fire unwraps a torch burning where there is no wind; and his great wings, sparing to a point far above his head, were like a living lamp before the altar of the Most High.

By this sign I knew that it was the archangel Uriel, the spirit of the Sun, clearest in vision, deepest in wisdom of all the spirits that surround the throne. “I hold not the same thought,” said he, “as the great archangel Michael; nor, though I desire the same end which he desires, would I seek it by the same way. For I know how often power has been given to the good, and how often it has been turned aside and used for evil.

I know that the host of Heaven, and the very stars in their courses, have fought on the side of a favored nation; yet pride has followed triumph and oppression has been the first-born child of victory. I know that the deliverers of the people have become tyrants over those whom they have set free, and the fighters for liberty have been changed into the soldiers of fortune.

Power corrupts itself, and might cannot save. “Does not the Prince Michael remember how the angel of the Lord led the armies of Israel, and gave them the battle against every foe, except the enemy within the camp? And how they robbed and crushed the peoples against whom they had fought for freedom? And how the wickedness of the tribes of Canaan survived their conquest and overcame their conquerors, so that the children of Israel learned to worship the idols of their enemies, Moloch, and Baal, and Ashtoreth?

Power corrupts itself, and might cannot save. Was not Persia the destroyer of Babylon, and did not the tyranny of Persia cry aloud for destruction? Did not Rome break the yoke of the East, and does not the yoke of Rome lie heavy on the shoulders of the world? Listen! There was silence for a moment on the slopes of Peace field, and then over the encircling hills a cool wind brought the sound of chains clanking in prisons and galleys, the sighing of millions of slaves, the weeping of wretched women and children, the blows of hammers nailing men to their crosses.

Then the sound passed by with the wind, and Uriel spoke again: Power corrupts itself, and might cannot save. The Earth is full of ignorant strife, and for this evil there is no cure but by the giving of greater knowledge. It is because men do not understand evil that they yield themselves to its power.

Wickedness is folly in action, and injustice is the error of the blind. It is because men are ignorant that they destroy one another, and at last themselves. If there were more light in the world there would be no sorrow. If the great King who knows all things would enlighten the world with wisdom—wisdom to understand his law and his ways, to read the secrets of the earth and the stars, to discern the workings of the heart of man and the things that make for joy and peace—if he would but send us, his messengers, as a flame of fire to shine upon those who sit in darkness, how gladly would we go to bring in the new day! “We would speak the word of warning and counsel to the erring, and tell knowledge to the perplexed.

We would guide the ignorant in the paths of prudence, and the young would sit at our feet and hear us gladly in the school of life. Then folly would fade away as the morning vapor, and the sun of wisdom would shine on all men, and the peace of God would come with the counsel of the angels.

A murmur of pleasure followed the words of Uriel, and eager looks flashed around the circle of the messengers of light as they heard the praise of wisdom fitly spoken. But there was one among them on whose face a shadow of doubt rested, and though he smiled, it was as if he remembered something that the others had forgotten. He turned to an angel near him. “Who was it,” said he, “to whom you were sent with counsel long ago? Was it not Balaam the son of Beor, as he was riding to meet the King of Moab? And did not even the dumb beast profit more by your instruction than the man who rode him? And who was it,” he continued, turning to Uriel, “that was called the wisest of all men, having searched out and understood the many inventions that are found under the sun?

Was not Solomon, prince of fools and philosophers, unable by much learning to escape weariness of the flesh and despair of the spirit? Knowledge also is vanity and vexation. This I know well, because I have dwelt among men and held converse with them since the day when I was sent to instruct the first man in Eden. Then I looked more closely at him who was speaking and recognized the beauty of the archangel Raphael, as it was pictured long ago: ” A seraph winged; six wings he wore to shade His lineaments divine; the pair that clad Each shoulder broad came mantling’ o’er his breasts.

With regal ornament the middle pair Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold And colors dipped in Heaven; the third his feet Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail, Sky-tinctured grain. Like Maia’s son he stood And shook his plumes, that Heavenly fragrance Jilled The circuit wide. “Too well I know,” he spoke on, while the smile on his face deepened into a look of pity and tenderness and desire, “too well I know that power corrupts itself and that knowledge cannot save. There is no cure for the evil that is in the world but by the giving of more love to men.

The laws that are ordained for earth are strange and unequal, and the ways where men must walk are full of pitfalls and dangers. Pestilence creeps along the ground and flows in the rivers; whirlwind and tempest shake the habitations of men and drive their ships to destruction; fire breaks forth from the mountains and the foundations of the world tremble. Frail is the flesh of man, and many are his pains and troubles. His children can never find peace until they learn to love one another and to help one another. “Wickedness is begotten by disease and misery. Violence comes from poverty and hunger. The cruelty of oppression is when the strong tread the weak under their feet; the bitterness of pride is when the wise and learned despise the simple; the crown of folly is when the rich think they are gods, and the poor think that God is not.

“Hatred and envy and contempt are the curse of life. And for these there is no remedy save love—the will to give and to bless—the will of the King himself, who gives to all and is loving unto every man. But how shall the hearts of men be won to this will? How shall it enter into them and possess them? Even the gods that men fashion for themselves are cruel and proud and false and unjust. How shall the miracle be wrought in human nature to reveal the meaning of humanity? How shall men be made like God?”

At this question a deep hush fell around the circle, and every listener was still, even as the rustling leaves hang motionless when the light breeze falls away in the hour of sunset. Then through the silence, like the song of a far-away thrush from its hermitage in the forest, a voice came ringing: “I know it, I know it, I know it.” Clear and sweet—clear as a ray of light, sweeter than the smallest silver bell that rang the hour of rest—was that slender voice floating on the odorous and translucent air. Nearer and nearer it came, echoing down the valley, “I know it, I know it, I know it!”

Then from between the rounded hills, among which the brook of Bright hopes is born, appeared a young angel, a little child, with flying hair of gold, and green wreaths twined about his shoulders, and fluttering hands that played upon the air and seemed to lift him so lightly that he had no need of wings. As thistle-down, blown by the wind, dances across the water, so he came along the little stream, singing clear above the murmur of the brook. All the angels rose and turned to look at him with wondering eyes. Multitudes of others came flying swiftly to the place from which the strange, new song was sounding. Rank within rank, like a garden of living flowers, they stood along the sloping banks of the brook while the child-angel floated into the midst of them, singing: “I know it, I know it, I know it!

Man shall be made like God because the Son of God shall become a man.” At this all the angels looked at one another with amazement, and gathered more closely about the child-angel, as those who hear wonderful news. “How can this be?” they asked. “How is it possible that the Son of God should be a man?” “I do not know,” said the young angel. “I only know that it is to be.” “But if he becomes a man,” said Raphael, “he will be at the mercy of men; the cruel and the wicked will have power upon him; he will suffer.” “I know it,” answered the young angel, “and by suffering he will understand the meaning of all sorrow and pain and he will be able to comfort every one who cries ; and his own tears will be for the healing sad hearts; and those who are healed by him will learn for his sake to be kind to each other.”

“But if the Son of God is a true man,” said Uriel, “he must first be a child, simple, and lowly, and helpless. It may be that he will never gain the learning of the schools. The masters of earthly wisdom will despise him and speak scorn of him.” “I know it,” said the young angel, “but in meekness will he answer them; and to those who become as little children he will give the heavenly wisdom that comes, without seeking, to the pure and gentle of heart.”

“But if he becomes a man,” said Michael, “evil men will hate and persecute him: they may even take his life, if they are stronger than he.” “I know it,” answered the young angel, “they will nail him to a cross. But when he is lifted up, he will draw all men unto him, for he will still be the Son of God, and no heart that is open to love can help loving him, since his love for men is so great that he is willing to die for them.” “But how do you know these things?” cried the other angels. “Who are you?” “I am the Christmas angel,” he said. “At first I was sent as the dream of a little child, a holy child, blessed and wonderful, to dwell in the heart of a pure virgin, Mary of Nazareth.

There There I was hidden till the word came to call me back to the throne of the King, and tell me my name, and give me my new message. For this is Christmas day on Earth, and to-day the Son of God is born of a woman. So I must fly quickly, before the sun rises, to bring the good news to those happy men who have been chosen to receive them.

As he said this, the young angel rose, with arms outspread, from the green meadow of Peace field and, passing over the bounds of Heaven, dropped swiftly as a shooting-star toward the night shadow of the Earth. The other angels followed him—a throng of dazzling forms, beautiful as a rain of jewels falling from the dark-blue sky. But the child-angel went more swiftly than the others, because of the certainty of gladness in his heart.

And as the others followed him they wondered who had been favored and chosen to receive the glad tidings. “It must be the Emperor of the World and his counselors,” they thought. But the flight passed over Rome. “It may be the philosophers and the masters of learning,” they thought. But the flight passed over Athens. “Can it be the High Priest of the Jews, and the elders and the scribes?” they thought. But the flight passed over Jerusalem. It floated out over the hill country of Bethlehem; the throng of silent angels holding close together, as if perplexed and doubtful; the child-angel darting on far in advance, as one who knew the way through the darkness.

The villages were all still: the very houses seemed asleep; but in one place there was a low sound of talking in a stable, near to an inn — a sound as of a mother soothing her baby to rest. All over the pastures on the hillsides a light film of snow had fallen, delicate as the veil of a bride adorned for the marriage; and as the child-angel passed over them, alone in the swiftness of his flight, the pure fields sparkled round him, giving back his radiance. And there were in that country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: “Fear not; for behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all nations. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.” And the shepherds said one to another: “Let us now go, even to Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.” So I said within myself that I also would go with the shepherds, even to Bethlehem. And I heard a great and sweet voice, as of a bell, which said, “Come!” And when the bell had sounded twelve times, I awoke; and it was Christmas morn; and I knew that I had been in a dream.

Yet it seemed to me that the things which I had heard were true.

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MARKETING IDEAS FOR SELLING JEWELRY ONLINE

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Reports have shown that about 2 million people shop for jewelry on the internet every day. It’s a very big and lucrative business. As profitable as the business is, a lot of competition exists.

Jewelry is for both men and women and this ensures a market from both genders. Selling jewelry online requires an online store which is usually a website or blog or on a known shopping platform like Amazon or E Bay or Etsy.

Jewelry Selling involves selling rings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, or belly rings and more. Each piece of jewelry can be made from hundreds of different mediums like gold, diamonds, gemstones, shells and beads and so much more.

Best of all, jewelry is easy to store (no need to pay rent on a large warehouse) and cheap to ship to buyers as it has very low weight.

To successfully market your jewelry online, there are steps and tips that can be of huge benefit. These steps have been highlighted below.

  1. Store Design

It’s a known fact that jewelry is part of the fashion industry, design and innovation is core fundamentals of the fashion world. Your online store must be well built with attractive features of good color so as to make visitors to the store and prospective buyers love and want to check out what you have got. For a competitive market, it’s a must to get online visitors to stay glued to your store. Also very important is the name of the store. Good naming can enhance SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

 

  1. Easy Navigation and Product Description

If you want to start marketing jewelry online and doing so successfully, you must make your website/blog which is your store very accessible and easy to navigate. Placing of accurate item descriptions and posting clear and quality pictures of each jewelry in your website is also another technique to selling jewelry online. Most people are attracted to items because of their pictures that are so real life looking. Good pictures sells. Selling Jewelry that is substandard is not advisable because it wain down marketing. Also, description of each jewelry should be true. Properties of each jewelry should also be easily displayed so that buyers don’t get confused. It is worthy of note that jewelries on the store should be classified. A menu on the website can be for gold jewelries while others are for diamond jewelries, silver jewelries and so on.

  1. Online Presence

For a person to succeed in jewelry selling online, you must always be online to know who contacts you about your products. Remember, a physical shop must be opened in the morning to get sales, so also is the online store, you open the store whenever you are online to check proceedings. A jewelry selling and marketing tip is that you secure a good internet connection. You should also have access to your store through your smart phone. All these makes your presence online and it helps you to attend to issues like emails from clients and other things.

  1. Traffic

It is absolutely suicidal, logically bereaved and an unacceptable practice to fail to talk about traffic anytime I talk about online business, selling jewelry, marketing jewelry online and any form of online selling. Traffic is the number of people visiting your website store at a particular point in time. To make it brief, the more your website is viewed, the more sales you make if your website looks good and products are equally attractive. To get lots of traffic requires some steps which include sending your website links to emails of people that are into fashion and jewelries, posting your website on the big and active social media pages and timeline that are passionate about jewelries, Setting up good back links to direct people from forums and similar websites to your store and effective Search Engine Optimization to get excessive and massive traffic from search engines like Google and Bing. In quest to get enough traffic of people that have interest in jewelry, you can also opt for massive advertisements online to sell your jewelries online. Google ads, Facebook and Twitter ads comes to mind as well as other advertisement services provider online.

  1. Security

An indispensable attribute of a good online store for jewelry selling is the security it offers customers. A lot of fraudsters are online who clone credit cards or sell substandard products. Buyers must be secured that the store offers full refund of cash if the product bought is not good enough or not up to specification. They must also be sure that the jewelry selling store will secure their Credit card used for transaction.

  1. Pricing

It’s not out of point to say that price plays a big role in successfully marketing jewelry. As a competitive market, you must seek to sell jewelry at a fair price. The concept of combining two or more products together for a reduced price seems cheap to buyers while you also make a fair profit. Try it out.

  1. Shipping and Logistics

A good store must provide buyers with good shipping and logistics. This involves how the bought products are successfully delivered to the buyer. Shipping must be stress-free and safe as well. Always provide more than you upfront say you will provide. For example, state shipping time to be 3 to 5 days, but then ship sooner than this, such as within one business day allowing the product to arrive earlier than expected assures you prove to your customers you provide over and above what you state, rather than saying 3 to 5 days and then not shipping the item until 10 days later…..which is not a good business practice. It is better to overdo then to under do for your customers in an effort to bring their business back to you.

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JEWELRY PHOTOGRAPHY

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Photography is an art that involves taking pictures or images with respect to good lighting. It is paramount to note that without good lighting, photography is almost impossible or even if done, might not come out good enough. With the above fact known, it shows that photography is a form of art made possible by light. To get a nice jewelry photograph, one must understand the concept of lighting in photography and its control.

Don’t attempt capturing the same light range on the digital back as seen by the eye. It’s a terrible error. The range you see is far broader than the amount of light the digital back will be able to capture. While the eye can see a wide range at the same time, digital chips cannot. The difference is that a digital chip can capture light all across the light spectrum, but not all at the same time like your eye can. Jewelry is often difficult to photograph because of its composition of highly polished materials or colored stones which can refract or reflect lights that are focused upon them. To achieve great results photographing jewelry, review the following tips.

Jewelry Photography Tips

  1. Jewelry appears sharp and crisp. Setting the camera to focus on the particular spot is better than making use of auto focus. This way, the spot of interest will be captured sharper than normal. However, the above method does not always work to capture a shiny object. A camera of manual focus capability may be needed and to also minimize blurry image of an object in motion, a tripod mount can be put in place to make the camera stable.

 

 

  1. The use of diffused natural light on jewelry photography to eliminate shadows and glares are not needed because jewelry surfaces can reflect most of the incident light. To solve this difficulty, illumination of jewelry with light bulbs from the right angles can be used.
  1. To photograph jewelry perfectly, put the camera’s Aperture at the highest number. Making the camera to focus on the entire jewelry object instead of focusing a particular part can maximize depth of field of the camera. This is a crucial point based on the closer you get to your object.
  1. Positioning jewelry is also important. Shaping a bracelet, chain or necklace on a white background brings out the jewelry’s prominent features. Make use of a wax stand when working with small items such as beads or rings. This will help your jewelry be at the right angle and might show more depth. Also, making sure the jewelry is free from impurities is important. Using these procedure will definitely improve your jewelry photography.

Below are further explanations on features of different lighting that can also improve photographing jewelry.

FRONT LIGHTING

This is the simplest form of lighting for jewelry photography. This can be done when you place or position source of light around the camera lens opposite the jewelry you want to capture. It is achieved by placing the light source around the camera lens pointing towards the jewelry to be photographed. Front lighting has a two-dimensional, flat effect.

SIDE LIGHTING

Side lighting gives the impression of three dimensions. From the sides, it illuminates the jewelry. Side lighting is important as it shows and accentuates the surface textures of jewelry.

NATURAL LIGHT

Natural light completely surrounds an object. This lighting can be found everywhere, both indoor and outdoor locations without addition of any other form of artificial light. Natural light can be very useful and effective in photographing jewelry as it achieves a soft and pronounced appearance on metal and gemstones.

DIRECT LIGHTING

Setting up direct lighting results in high contrast, especially when it’s coming from a single source such as the Sun or a fixture equipped with a Fresnel lens. It guarantees pictures of high contrast with deep shadows. In jewelry photography, people use direct lighting with other light sources to enable them to produce a particular effect on the general capture, which is creative. Using high contrast lighting adds impact and accentuates jewelry textures.

DIFFUSED LIGHTING

Diffused lighting involves scattered light rays that can produce softer light, lessen contrast, and smooth out details in the jewelry. The outcome is that images captured seem dreamy and perhaps romantic in nature. This technique is wonderful to show details of shadow. It is the most widely used method in jewelry photography.

SPOT LIGHTING

Spotlighting is so essential when one needs to focus on a particular area of the jewelry. However, in jewelry photography most surfaces are reflective; therefore special skills must be used when diffuse and control of reflection is the aim behind spotlighting. The end result can result in compelling and dramatic jewelry photography.

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