GSG Rhinestone Featured Image

Rhinestones, Lead Glass and Crystal Glass

The three terms rhinestone, lead glass and crystal glass are sometimes used in quite a confusing way, in my opinion, so I wanted to know more about them and explain about my findings in a blog.

Crystal Glass from PragueA rhinestone (paste or diamante) is a diamond simulant. Already in the 13th century diamantes or paste were made from Bohemian hand blown glass (situated in current Czech Republic). These were not called rhinestone, though. Originally rhinestones were made from rock crystals, which were found and gathered from the river Rhine and from areas in the Alps. The river Rhine has its source in the south-eastern Swiss Alps (on the border of Liechtenstein and Austria) and flows from the Swiss and Austrian border all the way north through Germany and then west to the Netherlands where it ends in the North Sea. The rock crystals that were found in and near the Rhine could be cut and shaped into pretty imitation diamonds. The little imperfections of the rocks caused them to sparkle like a diamond, which made them very popular for jewellers to use as cheaper alternatives for real diamonds. However, this popularity also caused that soon the natural crystal resources became pretty scarce. Since the nineteenth century rhinestones are also made from crystal glass, gem quartz or polymers, such as acrylic.

Strass Stones from PragueIn the second half of the 18th century the Alsatian jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass tried to imitate the effect of diamonds by coating the lower side of lead glass with metal powder. This technique created a result much like the cut and moulded rhinestones from rock crystals or proper diamonds. The diamante that were created this way became very popular as substitutes for both authentic rhinestones and real diamonds and are today often referred to as “strass”.

At the end of the 19th century, Daniel Swarovski developed and patented a technique and machine for precision cutting and polishing of crystal glass. With his newly invented technique he could mass produce very high quality crystal glass rhinestones, which had a much higher amount of lead content than other glass rhinestones. Because of the higher concentration of lead levels in the glass, the refraction index of the crystals was increased, which enhanced the sparkle of these crystals over conventional glass rhinestones, making them an even better imitation of real diamonds.Swarovski Crystals

Several companies at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, such as Tiffany in 1894, Fenton in 1908 and Swarovski in 1956, started mass producing iridescent lead glass by reducing the metal coating thickness, applying it uniformly and by applying various forms of metal dispositions. Some of these manufacturers, like Swarovski, managed to reproduce the glistening effect of real diamonds, when held in sunlight.

Lead glass is commonly called “crystal”. It is a variety of glass in which lead replaces the calcium content of a typical potash glass. In 1674 the Englishman George Ravencroft discovered a technique to add lead oxide in quantities of 10-30% to glass, which improved the appearance of glass and made it easier to melt it, using sea-coal as furnace fuel. This technique also increased the working time to manipulate the glass in easier ways. Although the term “lead crystal” is not completely accurate to describe lead glass, the use of it remained popular for both historical and commercial reasons. It derives from the Venetian word “cristallo”, which describes the rock crystal that was imitated by the Murano glass makers in Venice.

Crystal Glass Necklace from PragueThe brilliance of lead crystal relies on a high refractive index caused by the lead oxide, that is added to the molten glass and which gives it a greater sparkle. This happens because the specular reflection of the glass is increased as well as the range of the angles of total internal reflection compared to ordinary glass. In cut glass with facets, both hand-cut or machine-cut, the presence of lead also makes the glass softer and therefore easier to mould. Crystal with a consistency of up to 35% lead (the maximum amount) has the most sparkle. So crystal glass is in fact the same as lead glass, but rhinestones do not per se have to be made from lead glass, but can also be made from polymers, such as acrylic. In fact, crystal rhinestones are predominantly produced by Swarovski in Austria, by Preciosa in the Czech Republic and a few other glass cutters in northern Bohemia. All other produced rhinestones in all other countries are mainly manufactured with acrylic. However, all of these so called rhinestones, whether crystal rhinestones or other diamante or paste, can be used as imitations of real diamonds or as an alternative to sequin, when used on clothing.

The earliest known examples of glass with lead oxide date back to Mesopotamia of 1400BC and a recipe for lead glaze appears even in a Babylonian tablet of 1700BC! Lead glass also was around during the Han period in ancient China, from 206BC-220AD, where it was used to imitate jade for both ritual objects and jewellery and for a limited range of vessels. Because of its later appearance in China, it is thought that the technology was brought to the Asian continent along the Silk Route by glass workers from the Middle East. In medieval and modern Europe lead glass was used as a base in coloured glass, specifically in mosaic tesserae, enamels, stained-glass painting and bijouterie, where it was used to imitate precious stones. In the late 11th to early 12th century the author known as “Theophilus Presbyter” described the use of lead glass as an imitation gemstone in his “Schedula Diversarum Artium” (List of Sundry Crafts).

In the European Union glass products have to contain at least 24% of lead oxide for them to be considered “lead crystal”. This is regulated by the Council Directive 69/493/EEC. Products with less lead oxide or glass products with other metal oxides instead of lead oxide must be labelled “crystalline” or “crystal glass”.

GSG Steampunk GemDuring the starting phase of Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems, Gwendolyne still used glass rhinestones in the earliest handmade jewellery products, but soon realised that crystal rhinestones are a much better way of giving that extra sparkle and beauty to her Steampunk jewellery. Since then she has decided to mainly work with Swarovski crystal rhinestones in her Steampunk designs or genuine gemstones, when possible.

Gwendolyne Blaney – GSG

References

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/Wiki/Rhinestone  – “Rhinestone”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhine – “Rhine”

jewellery as a symbol by Gwendolyne's Steampunk Gems

Jewellery as a Symbol In Society

Cultured Seawater PearlPeople have been wearing jewellery for many different purposes during thousands of years. Of course, jewellery can be used for functional reasons, like a clasp, a buckle or a brooch to keep clothes together and hair pins to keep your hair in place. However, there are many more reasons why people wear jewellery and some of these reasons might not always be so obvious in the first place, unless you know more about the cultural backgrounds or intentions of certain civilizations or groups of people or about a specific person in particular.

Besides a functional use of wearing jewellery, on lots of occasions people wear a jewellery item just to look pretty and adorn oneself with it, especially in these modern times. In this blog I want to focus more on all the other forms and reasons why people would wear jewellery.

My Wedding RingA very specific reason can be that someone wears jewellery as a marker of social or personal status. A good example of this is the wedding or engagement ring. A wedding ring shows that the wearer has a certain connection with someone special in his or her life. It is a visual display of the social status of marriage or bonding with one person in particular, with whom the wearer forms a couple. In many civilizations wedding bands are worn on the ring finger of the left hand. People used to believe that the left hand had a connection closest to the heart (which you can feel beating best on the left side of your bosom), which made the ring finger the one to wear a ring of such importance. A ring was chosen to show this special bond, because the round shape of a ring shows ongoing eternal love.
Pendant worn by Mayor
In Western societies the so-called “first citizen” of a town, the mayor, shows his or her status sometimes visually by wearing a certain jewellery chain on special occasions. Although these necklaces are most often definitely not practical to wear, especially not on an everyday basis because of their massive size and weight, they do show the importance of the mayor as head of a city council during the times they wear these chains. The mayor’s chain can be compared to, for example, the impressive headdress and other distinctive jewellery which the native Indians wore when they met with western people who invaded their lands during colonial times in the Americas. It is a clear display of their social status within the group they belong to.

Another example of jewellery items that show social and personal status, are the crown jewels of royal families. These pieces are most often only worn during specific occasions or special celebrations. They point out the importance of the royal members as well as their hierarchical status within these families. The crown of a king or queen will be larger and more decorated that the tiara of a princess or other member of the family. It shows that the first ones mentioned are more important within the hierarchy of the family. Although crown jewels are often quite imposing and beautifully decorated with expensive materials, they are also heavy and probably not as comfortable to wear. Fortunately, kings and queens do not have to wear these precious jewels often and for less important events than for example a coronation, they might choose smaller and more practical crowns and tiaras to show their obviously special status.

Jewellery with a religious meaningSometimes the meaning or purpose of certain jewellery items might be an overlapping one. For instance, people can wear a crucifix or small cross to show their faith and their connection to a certain group of religious believers. The crucifix or cross worn by the Pope shows this too, but his chain will probably be much larger, decorated in a unique way and only meant to be worn by the Pope himself, which shows his status within this specific group of people as their religious leader. The Pope’s crucifix or cross is therefore both a display as a status symbol as well as a form of affiliation to the group he belongs to. His jewellery might be more for display than that it is worn for its aesthetic purpose. A note on the side: the difference between a crucifix and a cross is, that on a crucifix a small image of Jesus Christ is attached to the cross, while a cross is a simple form without any symbolic figure on it.

Jewellery can also be worn for reasons which are very personal and foremost specifically important for the wearer, other than just being pretty or decorative. In Victorian times so-called “Mourning Jewellery” became a new trend, after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert died. Queen Victoria was often seen wearing jet jewellery after her husband’s death. This sort of jewellery made it possible for her to wear jewellery, while at the same time expressing a state of mourning at the death of her husband. Her “new” style of jewellery became a real fashion and jet stones from Whitby, England, as well as other black materials were used to craft mourning adornments. Often these pieces of jewellery also contained a lock of hair of the deceased person, that was plaited, braided or twisted tightly and crafted in the design of the item. Although those styles of jewellery are no longer common, a comparison with this style is the bespoke jewellery that is created nowadays in which people insert some of the ashes of loved ones who have passed away. It could be viewed as a modern way of mourning jewellery, although these pieces are meant more as a remembrance of a deceased person than to show a state of mourning of the wearer.

'Nazar' - Little Glass Eye BeadOther forms of jewellery that is worn for very personal reasons other than adornment, are talismans. Talismans can be worn for good luck, good travels, health, protection or to stave off evil. Talismans have been crafted and worn for many thousands of years, although in ancient times they might have been especially used as protection against “The Evil Eye”. Archaeologists have found talismans in all corners of the world were humans have lived. They are still crafted today, although in modern times these jewellery items are often worn as novelties in many Western societies. However, there are still plenty of people who and places where proper meaning and importance is placed to talisman protection and maybe some Western people might still do so too. I know I do myself, as I like to give dear friends and loved ones who go away on long time travels a Saint Christopher medal to keep them save on their ways or jewellery for faith and good health to loved ones who are very ill, to comfort them and let them know they are in my thoughts. I also own a talisman necklace that I bought many years ago. It has ancient Viking style runes in Elder Futhark on it, which are meant to keep the wearer safe from sudden death. I wear it when I am on a journey for a long time and it gives me kind of mental reassurance I will be fine.

Bracelet with Tiger EyesA special purpose for wearing jewellery in great parts of the world, that has been going on since ancient times, is as dowry. Although nowadays the payment of dowry is prohibited in most countries, e.g. in India by the specific Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, dowries are still being asked in some places around the world, such as with the Madhesi people in Nepal and in some rural areas in e.g. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey et cetera. Even in India itself, despite the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 that criminalises dowry by law, taking or giving dowry is still a significant part of marriage. Dowry is most common in places where inheritance laws are quite inadequately male-based and where women are expected to live with or close by their husband’s family. Dowry exists of more than just jewellery, but jewellery is practically always part of dowry. During my time as a graduating sociology researcher Leisure Studies at the Tilburg University, I spent some time in Ecuador in 1997. Here I met with native Indians in Otavalo, a famous indigenous market town in the Andes mountains with a long cultural history, dating back from even before the Inca empire. Many of the native women in Otavalo and surroundings wore their traditional costume, which was finished with a large amount of beaded necklaces in mainly gold and sometimes also some red and other beads and gemstones. Nowadays these necklaces are perhaps made with inferior quality materials than in ancient times, but their intentional purpose in old times was meant as dowry. The more necklaces a woman was wearing, the higher her dowry for her new future husband and his family. These habits might no longer be applied, but the jewellery is still an important part of the indigenous outfit of the Otavaleños.

Culured Pearl NecklaceJewellery can be used as a means of value when all other possessions are lost. There are stories that in modern times refugees, e.g. people fleeing from countries in warzones, sometimes use jewellery as a means to pay for passage to safer places. Jewellery can be worn on your body, so it is easier to take these valuables with you than furniture or bags with money. Jewellery cannot be taxed like actual money in the bank can be and some jewellery can be a real asset, since the value of some precious and unique jewellery will increase over time. It can be used as a way to secure money and sometimes even increase your investments over time. Hence, the purpose of jewellery in these cases are not for adornment, but as an investment or safekeeping of assets, equal to when it was used as dowry. A tax free hoard.

During medieval times there were some exquisitely crafted examples of jewellery with a hidden, sometimes very dark functionality. These jewellery pieces were predominantly worn by the elite classes. Throughout the Middle Ages diseases such as the Plague (commonly known as the “Black Death”), dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever, chicken pox and measles ravaged Europe. People often caught diseases due to lack of proper diet and poor hygiene. Many lived in small houses and had to sleep in rooms with livestock, such as sheep, cows and horses. These animals were a common source of fleas and bugs, which were (and are) a great source of transferring diseases. Cities and streets were covered in litter, excrements and animal corpses, resulting in the air to smell quite putrid. During this period the common idea was that the cause of the spread of disease was bad air, which they (medical doctors in medieval times) called night air or miasma, the Ancient Greek word for pollution. Instead of eliminating the source of the foul stench, people tried to cover it with sweet smelling herbs. The idea was that the pleasant scents would protect them from the terrible diseases that “lingered in the air”. The nobility and elite protected themselves by wearing so-called pomanders; small crafted jewellery balls with perfumes made of herbs, such as ambergris, lavender, rosemary, musk, civet et cetera. Perfumed pomanders were usually made of gold or silver and worn as a pendant on a chain or attached to a belt or girdle. During the Renaissance perfumed jewellery was also worn by the upper classes to hide their own bodily smells, besides the idea of protection against pestilence. The word “pomander” stems from the French word “pomme d’ambre”, which means apple of amber. Perfumers often used ambergris (or grey amber) – a waxy, solid and flammable substance with a grey colour that is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales – in creating perfumes. The substance has been highly valued by perfumers as a fixative that allows the scent to endure much longer. These pomanders were kind of an early form of aromatherapy and they were worn by both men and women. Nowadays jewellery that can contain perfume is still being made, but obviously with the better medical knowledge these items are now really meant for adornment and to spread a lovely smell.

Perfume PendantIn some rare cases the reason to wear certain jewellery was a lot darker. They could, for instance, be used for political murders. An example of jewellery that was crafted for evil and murderous acts, are poison rings or pendants that could contain deadly substances, which could be added to a drink without anyone noticing. These types of jewellery were probably worn by murderous people amongst nobility and aristocrats. In 2013 archaeologists found a 600 year old bronze poison ring at the ruins of Cape Kailakra in current Bulgaria. The ring was beautifully crafted and deliberately hollowed out. Archaeologists think it was possibly imported from Italy or Spain and meant to be worn on a man’s little finger. The wearer could sneakily pour poison in a glass by just flicking his finger. Archaeologists who were working in the area where the ring was found, think that jewellery like this might explain a number of unexplained noble deaths that occurred during the specific period of time to which the excavated ring dates back to. It shows that jewellery can be used for very hidden reasons too.

Fortunately, the jewellery made by Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems clearly has a lighter purpose than to being used as murderous and evil weapons. Although most of my jewellery is mainly worn for beauty and to show the love for the steampunk and fantasy genre, some of it also has a functional character. Besides necklaces, bracelets and earrings, I also design brooches, hairclips, cuff links and key rings. So far I have not yet been addressing the possibilities of crafting perfume jewellery in steampunk style, but who knows what the future might bring. For now my main goal is to create unique and beautiful jewellery in steampunk style, that will fit everyone who likes it and that can be worn at practically any occasion and for an affordable price.

Gwendolyne Blaney – GSG

References

References:

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewellery – “Jewellery”

Fashion Era – https://www.fashion-era.com/jewellery.htm – “Fine and Fake Jewellery”

Cooksongold – http://www.cooksongold.com/blog/trends-and-inspiration/a-history-of-jewellery – “A History of Jewellery”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/art/ring-jewelry – “Ring; Jewelry”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talisman – “Talisman”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowry – “Dowry”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowry_system_in_India – “Dowry system in India”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/event/Dowry-Prohibition-Act – “Dowry Prohibition Act; India (1961)”

Swarovski Crystal Featured Image

The Beauty of Swarovski

GSG Steampunk GemWhile I was in the process of finding my own personal style of creating steampunk art jewellery, a friend asked me if I had any intention of using genuine precious gemstones in my designs. So far I had been using some ordinary glass rhinestones in a few of my creations, but not really given this any further thought. I am a self-educated artisan jeweller and I thought that the use of genuine stones might be a (costly) step too far for me. However, my friend did not let go of the idea and every time I saw her, she asked me the same question. That encouraged me to look deeper into the possibilities. I gathered a lot of information on the various types of precious stones and crystals, as well as how they could be used and how I could possibly finance this. I discovered that there were indeed gems and crystals that would definitely make a positive difference when added to my jewellery and also, that you do not always have to start with real expensive diamonds.

Swarovski CrystalsI started using Swarovski crystal rhinestones instead of the cheaper glass stones; a fine decision! I love how Swarovski crystals give an extra dimension to the beauty of my handmade jewellery items. Daniel Swarovski’s vision was to make “a diamond for everyone” by making crystals affordable for a much wider audience than ever before. It is my personal vision to make unique steampunk jewellery that is affordable and can be worn by anyone at any time. I think these two vision go hand in hand in the designs of Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems.

Daniel Swarovski was born in Georgenthal bei Goblenz (Jiřetín pod Bukovou) on 24 October 1862. His place of birth was situated in northern Bohemia, which is nowadays in the Czech Republic, but at that time was part of the Austrian Empire and situated about 20km from the Polish border. Swarovski was the son of a glass-cutter, who owned a small glass factory. He served an apprenticeship with his father, where he learned the art of glass-cutting. Later he went to both Paris and Vienna for further education and at the 1883 Electricity Exhibition in Vienna he got interested in the possibilities and phenomenon of electricity. In 1892 he patented an electric cutting machine, that facilitated the production of lead crystal glass. In 1895 he immigrated to Wattens, in Austria, and founded a crystal cutting factory together with his friends Armand Kosmann and Franz Weis: “A. Kosmann, D. Swarovski & Co.”, shortened to KS&Co. The three men decided for the factory to be situated in Wattens, in Tyrol, because this location would give them the advantage of local hydro-electricity for the energy-intensive grinding processes that Swarovski had patented.

Swarovski OptikIn 1887 Daniel Swarovski married Franz Weis’ sister Marie Weis. They had three sons together: Fritz, Alfred and Wilhelm. The youngest one became very important for the start of Swarovski Optik KG later in life. Daniel Swarovski died on 23 January 1956, aged 93, in Wattens. That was also the year that the Swarovski company introduced and started mass-producing their famous “Aurora Borealis” glass. There is still a sculpture of Daniel Swarovski in the town of Wattens today as a memorial to him as a person and regarding how important he was for the town itself.

Swarovski 1899 EdelweisThe original Swarovski logo, that was first introduced in 1895, was that of an edelweiss flower. This was also the time when the company expanded to France, where it was known as Pierres Taillées du Tyrol (“Cut Stones from Tyrol”). In 1919 Swarovski brought the grinding and polishing tools into a different market by founding the company Tyrolit. Tyrolit was and still is a manufacturer of grinding, sawing, drilling and dressing tools, as well as a supplier of tools and machinery. In 1935 Daniel Swarovski’s youngest son Wilhelm created a custom pair of binoculars, which led to the start of Swarovski Optik KG in Absam, Tyrol (Austria) in 1949. This company produces optical instruments, such as binoculars, telescopes and telescopic sights for rifles. Hence, the Swarovski company grew and is now split into three major industry areas of which the Swarovski Crystal Business is the one that primarily produces lead glass jewellery (or crystal jewellery) and crystal accessories.

Swarovski Logo 1895The Swarovski Group includes Tyrolit; Swareflex (reflective and luminous road markings); Signity (synthetic and natural gemstones) and Swarovski Optik. It is one of the highest grossing business units in the world with a global reach in around 170 countries worldwide. The company even has a crystal-themed museum in Wattens (near Innsbruck, Austria), called Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds). This museum is the second most visited tourist attraction in Austria. It was built in 1995 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the company.

Whilst the company logo started in 1895 with the logo of an edelweiss flower, this was later replaced by an S.A.L. logo (Block SC 1976-1988), which was replaced again in 1988 with their current logo of a swan. The latest logo represents the exquisite beauty, style and elegance of Swarovski crystal products.

In 2004 the Swarovski company released Xilion, a copyrighted cut designed to optimise the brilliance of Roses (components with flat back) and Chatons (round diamond cut view-side stones with no holes). The Xilion crystal glass was later replaced by Xirius, Swarovski’s most brilliant and advanced patented cutting technology, X-Cut, combined with the latest lead and conflict-free crystal glass material, Advanced Crystal, and their enhanced foiling technique, Silver Mirror Finish. Xirius stones are sparkling crystals with exceptional durability and radiance. Crystal glass is produced by melting a mixture of quartz sand, minium (a mineral), potash and soda at a very high temperature. To create crystal glass that lets light refract in a rainbow spectrum, Swarovski coats its products with special metallic chemical coating and cuts it with special techniques. The Xilion crystal glass components are ideal for making professional-looking fine jewellery. The stunning stones contain extremely precision-cut facets and produce a brilliant finish, which resembles a brilliant diamond more closely than ever before.

Nadja Swarovski, the great-great granddaughter of Daniel Swarovski, is a member of the Swarovski executive board and leads the global brand strategy and communications of the Swarovski business. She also heads up the company’s sustainability strategy, the Swarovski Waterschool community investment program and she is the Chairperson of the Swarovski Foundation. Hence, Swarovski is still a family-owned business since it was founded by Daniel Swarovski in 1895. A sparkling company in many ways.

Gwendolyne Blaney – Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems

References

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Swarovski – “Daniel Swarovski”

GAS Filigree Featured Image

Steampunk Filigree

FiligreeSilver EarringsFiligree is a delicate and lacelike kind of jewellery metalwork. Fine, pliable metal threads are curled, twisted or plaited in ornamental and intertwined patterns, soldered together at points of contact or with the metal groundwork. Usually metals such as gold and silver are used in the filigree techniques, although other materials are sometimes used, such as copper wire or wood. Tiny beads or twisted threads or a combination of both are soldered together or on to the surface of an object of the same metal. They are arranged in beautiful and artistic motifs and patterns. When you look for the definition of the word “filigree“, the noun is explained in www.dictionary.com as: 1. Delicate ornamental work of fine silver, gold or other metal wires, especially lacy jewellers’ work of scrolls and arabesques; 2. anything very delicate or fanciful (“a filigree of frost”).

Ecuadorian Silver BraceletFiligree is not the same as ajouré jewellery work, in which style of jewellery the techniques consists of drilling or cutting holes in objects made of sheet metal, thus leaving open spaces in the worked metal. The result of ajouré jewellery making is reminiscent of the style of lace that is known as “ajour”, but with a different used technique than in filigree. Filigree, however, does have a connection to granulated metalwork. Granulation is a jewellery manufacturing technique in which a metal surface is covered in many little spherules or granules of precious metals, which are soldered to form patterns. Archaeologists belief that it has its origin in Sumer about 5000 years ago and it was used often by Mesopotamian craftsmen.

Celtic FiligreeThe word “filigree” used to be written as “filigrain” or “filigrene“. Today sometimes it is also spelled as “filagree“. Filigree is the shortened version of an earlier form of “filigreen” (1660s), which derives from the Latin words “filum”, meaning thread, and “granum”, meaning grain as of a small bead. The Latin word became “filigrana” in Italy during medieval times and transformed in seventeenth century France to “filigrane“. Though filigree has become a special branch of jewellery crafting in modern times, it was historically part of the ordinary work of a jeweller.

Filigree metalwork has been found from Africa to Asia and archaeologists have excavated jewellery with incorporated filigree dating back to ancient Mesopotamia of 3000 BC. Patterns of gold ground have been derived in ornaments from Phoenician sites, such as in Cyprus and Sardinia, but the filigree artwork became really advanced to a very high perfection by the Greeks and Etruscans during the 6th-3rd centuries BC. These civilizations made all their jewellery by soldering gold together rather than by chiselling or engraving materials.

Silver Earrings FiligreeIt is not known whether Asiatic jewellers were influenced by the Greeks who settled on the Asian continent or if they trained under common traditions, but it is certain that Indian filigree workers retained the same patterns as the ancient Greek filigree workers had and that they worked them in the same way. Filigree has been and still is quite popular in Indian and other Asian designs of metalwork, both jewellery and otherwise. It has been worked for a very long time without any change in the designs.

Silver Filigree Hair ClipMuch of the medieval metalwork all over Europe dating back to the 15th century, not just jewellery but also reliquaries, crosses and other goldsmith’s work, is set off with bosses and borders of filigree. Many of these pieces were made either in Constantinople (from the 6th-12th century AD) or in European monasteries, which studied and imitated Byzantine goldsmiths’ art and craftwork. Also the Saxons, the Britons and the Celts in the north of Europe were very skilful in several kinds of filigree goldsmiths’ work from an early period. The Insular Period was a time of close cultural interaction between Britain and Ireland from around 550-900AD. Irish filigree metalwork dating back to this time shows increasingly complicated designs and more extremely varied patterns with curious and interesting knots. Its highest perfection in thoughtful designs is found in filigree work from the 10th and 11th centuries. Their remarkable and beautiful fine patterns are well known and have been copied and imitated for centuries after, even today, such as the famous Tara brooch, a Celtic brooch that is dated between 650 and 750AD and was found in Ireland in 1850.

GSG Steampunk FiligreeThe oldest filigree items that have been discovered on the Iberian peninsula date back to 2000-2500BC, although archaeologists have doubts whether these jewellery pieces were really created here or that they have their origin in the Middle East and were brought here by travellers from those areas. With the arrival of Arab migrants in the 8th century in Portugal, filigree really started to be produced in these areas. The new Arab migrants brought new filigree patterns with them, but while in Spain the filigree jewellery making became less relevant, in Portugal it was perfected with different patterns. After the 18th century Portuguese filigree had its own particular and distinctive imagery, motifs and shapes. Portuguese filigree from the 17th and 18th centuries became even famous for its extraordinary and distinctive complexity.

Gwendolyne's Steampunk Gems FiligreeModern filigree jewellery is often surrounded and subdivided by bands of square or flat metal, which gives consistency to the filling up, that would otherwise lose its proper shape. Although the designs of Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems are not proper filigree metalwork when sticking to the definition of how filigree is created normally, the jewellery pieces of Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems appear to have that sort of style. The shapes of the cogs and gears and the way how they are forged together in mesmerizing and twisted patterns, give the impression of historical filigree motifs. The synchronism of the way how the cogs and gears are placed and linked up in certain shapes reminds of filigree art, with its curling, twisting and plaiting threads of metalwork. That is what I personally like to refer to as “Steampunk Filigree”.

Gwendolyne Blaney – GSG

References

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filigree – “Filigree”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajour – “Ajoure”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/art – “Filigree; Decorative Art”

Wikisource – https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica/Filigree – “1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Filigree”

Etymonline – http://www.etymonline.com/word/filigree – “Filigree (n.)”

Dictionary.com – http://www.dictionary.com/browse/filigree – “Filigree”

Etymology Featured Image

The Etymology Of The Word ‘Jewellery’

The word “jewellery“, or “jewelry” in American English, was invented many thousands of years later than the actual first pieces of decorative items worn for personal adornment were created by men. It derived from the word “jewel”, which is the Anglicised form of the Old French word “jouel“. In late Middle English, around the 17th and 18th century, it was spelled “juelrye“, which later became “jewellery“.

Bag Bijou brigitte BagThe Old French word “jouel“, meaning “ornament; present; gem; jewel”, was first used during the 12th century and by the late 13th century the word “jewel” started being used in England, meaning “an article of value used for adornment”. The French word “jouel” derived from the medieval Latin word “jocale“, which comes again from the Latin word “iocus“, meaning “game; playing; joke”, or in Vulgar Latin “that which causes joy”. There are also historians who adhere to the theory that it traces back to the Latin word “gaudium“, with a notion of “rejoice”. The French word “gaudie” means “joy; pleasure; playfulness; a piece of showy finery; a flashy trinket”. The restricted sense of the word to “precious stone; gem” stems from England in the early 14th century.

Goldsmith JewellerJewellers who worked with expensive materials were called “joalliers“, but during the Renaissance period a new term was invented to differentiate jewellers who worked with cheaper materials, by calling them “bijoutiers“. The origin of the French word “bijouterie” lies in 1735 and comes from the Breton word “bijou“. In Breton French “biz” means “finger” and “bizou” means “finger-ring”. The words to differentiate between the uses of art materials by jewellery makers is still in practice to this day, which can be seen for instance at the different sort of shops that sell jewellery items. One can see a clear difference between fine jewellery shops with pieces made by educated goldsmiths and silversmiths versus mass produced, machinery made cheaper products as sold by e.g. Bijou Brigitte or Claire’s. The latter two are examples of proper bijouteries.

My Wedding RingIf Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems would be categorized in the way one would differentiate a fine jeweller from a bijoutier, than GSG would probably fit the term bijoutier best, since practically all my jewellery pieces contain less precious metals than gold and silver. However, although my jewellery is handcrafted with mostly inferior metals than silver and gold, it certainly is not suited to be mass-produced or machinery made. Thus Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems cannot completely be put in either category. In another blog I wrote about Art Jewellery and the Arts & Crafts Movement, that started in the late 1800s. That blog article gives a better view on the ideas I have myself regarding my sort of jewellery handcraft and perhaps it also shows, why Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems definitely fits with the descriptions of both a fine jeweller and bijoutier.

Gwendolyne Blaney – GSG

Reference

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewellery – “Jewellery”

Google.co.uk – “Jewel”

Lexico – https://www.lexico.com/definition/jewellery – “Jewellery”

Online Etymology Dictionary – https://www.etymonline.com/word/jewelry – “Jewelry”

Merriam Webster – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bijouterie – “Bijouterie”

Online Etymology Dictionary – https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=Bijou – “Bijou (n.)”

Word Histories – https://wordhistories.net/?s=Origin+of+%27Jewel&submit= – “Origin of ‘Jewel’, little plaything, of ‘Bijou’, finger-ring”

Inca Jewellery

Jewellery throughout time – Medieval jewellery making

Europe became more important for the innovation of the jewellery industry after the fall of the ancient civilizations in Egypt, the Middle-East and the Roman Empire, although it took quite some time before European civilizations really established that important role and position. Nearly a thousand years passed by before new knowledge and ideas were enabled and applied to jewellery making in Europe.

More contact and interactions with distant civilizations became possible due to, for instance, the Crusades. The expansion of trade and commerce and the flowing of wealth from royalty, the church and nobility to a larger middle class made it possible for more people to afford jewellery. However, this also created a situation in which the nobility and upper classes were determined to distinguish themselves from the masses by putting up Sumptuary Laws in the 13th century. These Sumptuary Laws were an attempt to regulate consumption and to restrict personal expenditures with regards to extravagance and luxury. Through these laws social hierarchies and morals could be regulated and reinforced through the restrictions that were put in place, which often depended upon a person’s social rank. This basically meant that they capped luxury in for example items such as dress and jewellery for middle and lower class people. The Sumptuary Laws forbade yeomen and artisans from wearing gold and silver, hence making sumptuous clothing and jewellery styles a privilege to just the higher ranks of society. While precious gems, gold and silver were exclusively worn by royalty, nobility and people from the church, the people of lower status, the so-called commoners, usually wore base metals, such as copper and bronze.

During the Renaissance a vast expansion of technology, exploration and knowledge had a significant effect on the development of jewellery manufacturing in Europe. There was an increased availability of fine gems and precious metals, as well as a greater exposure to the designs of jewellery from other, distant cultures. Besides, the skills to make excellent fake jewellery with imitation gems became better and more sophisticated. While people weren’t able to jewel-cut in early Modern Era, the jewel cutting abilities improved during the Renaissance and more elaborate designs were created. Also, the ancient art of engraving gems revived and religion was more imbedded into the designs. This period showed an increasing dominance of the use of gemstones. For instance, during the 17th century is was very fashionable to wear pearls in abundance. A Parisian bead maker of the 17th century, called Jaquin, is believed to have invented and patented the first faux pearl technique by coating the inside of blown glass spheres with a mixture of varnish and iridescent ground fish scales and then filling them with wax to strengthen them. Actually, just about any kind of fake gem could be produced during this time.

Poison rings came into fashion during the 16th century, taken from Ancient Greek origin, and also lockets and rings containing perfume, locks of hair or pictures were popular items. The 17th century was an important moment in the history of jewellery manufacturing, since for the first time it saw fashion go together with accessories. Dark clothing styles were associated with gold jewellery, whereas pastels and white clothing styles were combined with silver, pearls and gemstones. When Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor of France in 1804, he brought the grandeur of fashion and jewellery back to court. Jewellers introduced so-called “parures” under his rule; matching sets of jewellery. Napoleon was a great lover of diamonds and also resurrected the trend of wearing cameos, engraved jewellery pieces featuring a raised relief image, which were already made in Greece during the 3rd century BC, which soon became popular jewellery items. A division started existing between the different sorts of fine metal workers: so-called “joailliers” worked only fine jewellery pieces with precious metals and expensive gemstones, such as gold, silver, real pearls and diamonds, whereas “bijoutiers” crafted jewellery with less precious materials and gems. These new terms were used to differentiate the arts of jewellery making and this practice continues to this day, although the distinction is not as strict anymore as during those times.

The Romanticism of the late 18th century had a profound impact on how jewellery manufacture developed in the West. The start of modern archaeology and the public’s fascination with the discovered treasures of the past combined with a growing interest with medieval and Renaissance arts became significant influences in the development of jewellery designs. Also, changing social conditions and the start of the Industrial Revolution resulted in a growing middle class. This group of middle class people had both the desire and the means to buy jewellery for themselves. This period showed the appearance and disappearance of many styles, some new and original, others based on ancient designs which were found in the ruins of long gone civilizations, such as the Egyptians, the Greek and the Romans. A very unique sort of jewellery that came into fashion during the Romanticism, originating in England, was the so-called “Mourning Jewellery”. When Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, she was often seen wearing mourning jewellery. These pieces allowed the wearer to continue wearing jewellery while at the same time expressing their mourning over the death of a beloved person. This type of jewellery also highlights how sentimental the Victorian Age was. Mourning Jewellery was mostly crafted with jet gemstones from Whitby, a type of lignite and precursor to coal, although other types of black materials were also used, and often these items contained a lock of hair of the deceased person.

The period of the Romanticism also entailed the first major collaboration between the East and the West regarding jewellery manufacturing, e.g. between artists from German and Japan, who made shakudō plaques set into filigree frames for the Stoeffler firm in 1885. Shakudō is an alloy of copper and a small amount of gold (between 2% and 7%) and is also known as “red copper”. Modern production studios arose with the founding of jewellery companies such as Tiffany & Co. (USA, 1837), Cartier SA (France, 1847) and Bulgari (Italy, 1884), which were completely new developments in comparison with the dominance of individual craftsmen up to these times.

During the 18th century many whimsical fashions were introduced and at the end of the century a new design philosophy emerged as a reaction to the mass produced goods and inferior products made by machines. Leaders of the aesthetic Arts and Crafts Movement, which started in England around 1860 and was inspired by the ideas of architect Augustus Pugin, writer John Ruskin and designer William Morris, wanted handcrafted jewellery to be brought back into fashion as opposed to using machinery for creating jewellery. The followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement promoted simple arts and crafts, based on floral, primitive and Celtic designs and forms and with the use of less precious metals and expensive stones. Instead, silver, copper and brass were used to create jewellery. Polished stones, which were used in Arts and Crafts craftsmanship, gave a more gentle, medieval and handmade look of an individual nature to the handcrafted designs. The focus was aimed on the artistic elements and the beauty of the design. By the 1900s the movement was kind of replaced by a more ostentatious version, which started in France: Art Nouveau (≈ 1890-1910), although its ideas of reacting against machine production were still visible throughout these new characteristics of jewellery making.

Art Nouveau jewellery encompassed the curving, organic lines of romantic, female forms, flowers, animals, birds and colourful imaginary dreaminess. It defined a notable and stylistic revolution to the jewellery industry and was closely related to the German Jugendstil. Art Nouveau jewellery makers, such as the famous René Jules Lalique, tried to create a memorable effect or design. They focussed on symbolic work, including eroticism and death. Twentieth century jewellery was still a status symbol, but at a much more affordable price for the middle class market. Materials such as glass, enamel and horn, as well as metal alloy and imitation stones were used to replace the more expensive gold and silver to create beautiful and artistic jewellery pieces, that at the same time emphasized the previously neglected visual and tactile qualities of these new materials.

The end of World War I ushered a change into a more sober style of jewellery manufacture. Growing political tensions and the after-effects of the war incited a more modest style as a reaction against the perceived decadence of the turn of the century. It led to simpler forms of designs, combined with more effective mass-production of high-quality jewellery. During these years French designer René Lalique, for instance, became a leading example of good mass-produced glass jewellery. This style, in between 1920-1930, is popularly known as Art Deco. The German Bauhaus movement, that fits in this style category, had the following philosophy about this period: “No barriers between artists and craftsmen.” It led to some interesting and stylish simple forms and shapes and the jewellery created during these years is sometimes also referred to as “cocktail jewellery”. Cocktail jewellery was greatly influenced by famous designers, such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, who both used costume jewellery and mixed it with genuine gems and expensive fine jewellery.

Gwendolyne's Latest Steampunk GemsThe production of fine jewellery stagnated during World War II because of the rationing of metals. Fine precious metals and gem jewellery were practically not available, but quality costume jewellery from America became a great alternative. During the 1940s and 1950s the influence of the (North) American culture was quite dominant in Europe and costume jewellery was a visible example of this fact. Since the 1960s there has been a fairly constant redefining of contemporary jewellery design and innovations on jewellery making. Non-metals have been introduced to more modern jewellery creations and the concept of wearable art has widened. There is a clear increase of variety in the different styles of jewellery manufacture development. These developments have made it possible for a much larger segment of the population to buy jewellery and also for a growing number of creative people to craft jewellery, sometimes with unique and personalized designs. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and when looking at all the jewellery innovations, you can definitely see this put to practice throughout time. Nowadays artisan jewellery grows both as a hobby and as a profession. Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems is a great example of an artisan jeweller, who incorporates traditional workmanship and techniques with both modern and precious materials to handcraft classy and beautiful adornments in Steampunk style.

One thing can be stated for sure: jewels and jewellery will forever remain an integral part of humanity and a lovely part in my opinion.

Gwendolyne Blaney – GSG

References

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewellery – “Jewellery”

History of Jewelry – http://www.historyofjewelry.net/ – “History of Jewelry – All about Jewellery”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/art/jewelry/The-history-of-jewelry-design – “The History of Jewelry Design”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumptuary_law – “Sumptuary law”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/topic/sumptuary-law – “Sumptuary law”

Antique Jewelry Investor – http://www.antique-jewelry-investor.com/identifying-cultured-pearls.html – “Identifying Cultured Pearls”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameo_(carving) – “Cameo (carving)”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_%28lignite%29 – “Jet (lignite)”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arts_and_Crafts_movement – “Arts and Crafts Movement”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/art/Arts-and-Crafts-movement – “Arts and Crafts Movement – British and International Movement”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Nouveau – “Art Nouveau”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/art/Jugendstil – “Jugenstil – Artistic Style”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/art/Art-Nouveau – “Art Nouveau – Artistic Style”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rene-Lalique – “Rene Lalique”

Encyclopædia Britannica – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alphonse-Mucha – “Alphonse Mucha”

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_jewelry – “Art jewelry”

Pauline Weston Thomas – https://www.fashion-era.com/jewellery.htm – “Fine and Fake Jewellery”

Cooksongold/The Bench – https://www.cooksongold.com/blog/trends-and-inspiration/a-history-of-jewellery – “A History of Jewellery”

GSG Jewellery throughout time - Ancient and early jewellery making

Jewellery throughout time – Ancient and early jewellery making

Clay Jewellery made at the Historic Open Air Museum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

The attachments of small, decorative items to body or clothes, worn for personal adornment or otherwise, happened a long time before there was even a word for these pretty decorations. Ever since humans first started to wear clothes and use tools, more than 100,000 years ago, jewels have been made and worn by people. One of the oldest types of archeological artifacts that have been proof of this, are some 100,000-year old beads made from Nassarius shells. These are thought to be the oldest forms of jewellery and were found in a cave on the southeast coast of Spain, the Cueva de los Aviones. The beads, made from small sea shells, date back to about 115,000 years ago. They were not created by Homo Sapiens, but by Neanderthal people. In Kenya beads made from perforated ostrich eggs were found, that have been dated to over 40,000 years old and in Russia archeologists excavated a stone bracelet and a marble ring of a similar old age. This shows, that jewellery has been part of human cultures all over the world for an incredibly long time.

Jewellery was worn for various reasons throughout history. Reasons that sometimes overlap each other, up to present day time. Jewellery items can be worn for a functional reasons, e.g. for fixing clothes or keeping hair in place. It can be worn to show social or personal status, of which a fine example is a wedding ring. It can also be worn to show some form of affiliation (ethnic, social, religious), to provide protection (as a talisman, such as an amulet), as an artistic display or as a symbol of personal meaning (e.g. love, luck or mourning). Jewellery has even been, and sometimes still is, used as a currency or as an item of trade. Jewellery has definitely become timeless and has been constantly developed and refined over time.

In the earliest times of jewellery making humans used any type of material that was available, from items such as plants, berries, wood and stones to animal parts (skin, bones, teeth, feathers and fur), shells and even natural made semi-precious materials such as obsidian and marble. The jewels of early humans were still in crude forms, hung on pieces of string or animal sinew, but always developing and refining over time. Around 7,000 years ago there were already signs of copper being used by fine metal workers and the first signs of established jewellery making date back to Ancient Egypt, around 3,000-5,000 years ago. Although many archeologists for a long time were of the opinion that fine metal art and jewellery making used to be carried out by male humans in ancient times, those ideas needed to be reconsidered when in October 2012 the Museum of Ancient History in Austria declared, that they had found the grave of a female fine metal worker originating from the Bronze Age, approximately 3,200-5,000 years ago.

GSG's Bead Jewellery purchased from Ecuador

Focusing on the development of how jewellery was created in early history, this process can be roughly divided across three ancient civilizations: Egypt & Mesopotamia, India and China.

In Egypt and Mesopotamia jewellery makers preferred working with gold over other metals. Gold had been mined and worked in Egypt since Predynastic times, especially in the Eastern Desert and Nubia (“nub” is the ancient word for gold). Gold is very malleable and it does not corrode or tarnish, so it is a fine material to work with by metal workers. Besides, the Egyptians linked gold to the divinity of the Gods and therefore thought it to be very fitting to be worn by the pharaohs. Gold jewellery was mainly worn by the royalty and important nobility. It was also often used for trade, as a diplomatic tool or as a reward to e.g. courtiers and military leaders. Goldsmiths in Ancient Egypt developed several techniques, such as beating gold into fine leaves and utilising the lost-wax technique to make intricate statues. They also knew techniques to mix gold with other metals to create alloys, such as Electrum, a blend of gold, silver and copper, that was used to plate the exterior of monuments such as obelisks and the tops of the pyramids. These metal workers were also very skilled glass manufacturers and they used semi-precious gems in their designs. In Predynastic Egypt jewellery soon was used to symbolize political and religious status. Jewellery was also put in people’s graves. Archeologists excavated hundreds of burial sites on the Royal Cemetery of Ur dating back to 2,900-2,300BC, which contained numerous of artifacts in gold, silver and semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli crowns, collar necklaces, jewel-headed pins, ankle bracelets and amulets. The long tradition of jewellery production and trade between the Middle East and Europe provided a good foundation for all European civilizations that came after them.

India was the first place where diamonds were mined for the use in jewellery making. They were also the first ones who managed the art of gold gathering and processing. The Kolar and Hatti gold mines have been in operation for thousands of years and are still used today. This made them one of the most visited destination for trade, which especially became important for the expansion of European civilizations during the Age of Discovery, between the 15th and mid-17th century. The jewellery history of India goes back 5,000-8,000 years. India prospered financially through exports and exchange with other countries and had a continuous development of art forms for some 5,000 years. Some of their diamond mines date back to 296BC and diamonds were not only used in jewellery making, but also to finance wars, used as security means to finance loans which were needed to help regimes in political and economic ways or even to murder potentates! According to Hindu belief, gold and silver are considered as sacred metals and both are typical metals of Indian jewellery. Pure gold does not oxidise or corrode with time and is symbolic of the warm sun. Hindu tradition associates gold with immortality (as also the Egyptians made the association with gold and eternal life). Silver on the other hand suggests the cold moon.

Jade_Gemstone

Early jewellery making started around the same period in China as it did in India, but it became more widespread with the spread of Buddhism, around 2,000 years ago. It had its own unique style, focusing on natural scenes, animals and dragons. In China the dragon is a symbol of power, strength and good luck and Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, in particular over the elements of water (water, rainfall, hurricanes and floods), hence making it a beloved subject for jewellery makers. The Chinese metal workers used more silver than gold in their designs and, for instance, feathers of blue kingfishers were attached to early Chinese jewellery. Later they started using predominantly blue gems and glass to their jewellery, although jade was preferred over other stones. Archeologists have established that several tribes were already digging up deposits of jade from the Yangtze River Delta and Henan around 3,400BC. It was valued for its hardness, its durability and beauty. Jade rings from between the 4th and 7th centuries BC show evidence that Chinese jewellery makers worked with a sort of milling machine to create complex designs, hundreds of years before such equipment was known or used in the West. Like the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians, the Chinese people often buried their deceased with their jewellery. Most excavated Chinese graves found by archeologists contained beautiful jewellery pieces.

The three ancient civilizations mentioned above created a basic foundation on how jewellery making developed in later times. Thousands of years of advancement enabled the process and art of jewellery manufacture to spread and refine. It definitely has been one of the pivotal driving forces of expressing culture, fashion and individuality as its constant presence throughout the history of mankind shows. In practically all cultures jewellery has been used to show status, wealth, religious beliefs or to give the wearer luck or protection from evil or harm.

Little glass eye bead from Turkey. Used against the 'Evil Eye'

In ancient Greece jewellery made with beads shaped as shells and animals was widely produced in earlier times. They started using gold and gems later, from about 1,600BC. In the Mycenaean period, however, they had developed sophisticated skills on working gold and their main techniques included making wire, twisting bars and casting. Unfortunately these techniques were lost at the end of the Bronze Age, probably due to the Persian Wars, causing that jewels dating from 600-475BC are not well represented in the records of archeologists. Jewellery was mostly worn by Greek women and often meant for protection against evil or as religious symbolism. Greek jewellery started to show more influence of outer origin designs after Alexander the Great conquered part of Asia and also European influences can be spotted in some earlier Greek jewellery creations. A very diverse amount of styles and techniques were developed over these early centuries until the conquest of Greece by the Roman empire. However, the Roman culture’s influence on jewellery making appeared after quite some time when Roman rule came to Greece. The Roman influence became visible when the Greek metal workers started using more gems, such as topaz, amethyst, aquamarine and Syrian garnet in their designs.

GSG's Clay Jewellery from Ephesus, Turkey

Jewellery work was very diverse in earlier times, especially since there were so many barbarian tribes that each had their own styles and techniques. When the Romans conquered most of Europe, jewellery crafting changed as smaller groups developed or integrated the Roman designs within their own designs and vice versa. The most common artifact of early Rome was the brooch, that was used as a clasp to keep clothes together. Roman jewellery was made with a whole range of materials, varying from gold to bronze, bone, wood, precious stones, glass beads and pearls. The Romans used materials from all over the continent as well as far outside from it. As early as 2,000 years ago they already imported sapphires from Sri Lanka, diamonds from India and they used materials as emerald and amber in their jewellery.

After the fall of Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, Europe continued to develop jewellery manufacture and their jewellery absorbed some of the earlier designs. The Celts and the Merovingians in particular are known for their beautiful jewellery. The quality of their work matched or even exceeded that of the Byzantine Empire. The most common artifacts of these civilizations are probably their amulets, brooches and signet rings. By the 8th century wealthier men started wearing jewelled weaponry and signet rings, while other jewels were mainly worn by women. While the Celts were specialised in complicated and continuous patterns in their designs, such as the famous Celtic knots, the Merovingian jewellery was well-known for their animal figures. The Visigoths were also skilled jewellery makers, who had obvious Byzantine and western Mediterranean influences in their designs. Archeological excavations of Visigoth jewellery pieces are often brooches, buckles and some combs.

During the Byzantine Empire, jewellery makers used many of the Roman methods, but during this period religious themes predominated and their metal workers preferred light-weight gold leaf over solid gold materials. They also put more emphasis on the use of stones and gems. Like in many other civilizations during those times, they too commonly buried the jewellery items with its owner.

The basic forms and designs of jewellery might vary between cultures and over time, but they still are often extremely long-lived. In European civilizations and cultures the most common forms of jewellery, such as brooches, buckles, necklaces, pendants, rings, bracelets, earrings, cuff-links and hair combs, have persisted since ancient times and will most likely be a constant presence for many years yet to come.

Gwendolyne Blaney – GSG

14th Century Amulet for protection against sudden death

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References

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewellery – “Jewellery”
History of Jewelry – http://www.historyofjewelry.net/ – “History of Jewelry – All about jewellery”
Cooksongold – https://www.cooksongold.com/blog/trends-and-inspiration/a-history-of-jewellery – “A History on Jewellery”
Pauline Weston Thomas – Fashion-Era – https://www.fashion-era.com/jewellery.htm – “Jewellery History – Fine and Fake Jewellery”
HypnoGirl – https://atensequence.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-importance-of-gold-to-ancient.html – “The importance of Gold to the Ancient Egyptians”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier – “Courtier”
Quora – https://www.quora.com/How-did-Ancient-India-have-so-much-gold-as-there-were-no-gold-or-diamond-mines-in-India-and-the-history-does-not-suggest-any-trade-between-Africa-and-Asia
Johnson Hur – https://bebusinessed.com/history/the-history-of-gold/ – “The History of Gold”
Mark Cartwright – https://www.ancient.eu/gold/ – “Gold in Antiquity”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Discovery – “Age of Discovery”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_dragon – “Chinese dragon”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon – “Dragon”
Jonathan Hopfner – South China Morning Post – https://www.scmp.com/article/634397/fyi-why-jade-so-important-chinese – “FYI: Why is jade so important to the Chinese?”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_jade – “Chinese jade”
Juan Gamero – The Ancient Home – https://theancienthome.com/blogs/blog-and-news/greek-jewelry-history-facts – “Greek Jewellery History & Facts – Distinct Styles over Time”
Guyot Brothers – http://www.guyotbrothers.com/jewelry-history/jewelry-history-page7.htm – “Greek Jewelry”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire – “Byzantine Empire”
Sacredartofadornment.com – http://sacredartofadornment.com/?page_id=218 – “History of Byzantine and Chainmaille Jewelry”
Antiquitiesgiftshop.com – http://antiquitiesgiftshop.com/byzantine-jewelry.html – “Ancient Byzantine Jewelry – Authentic Antique Byzantine Jewellery – History Byzantine Jewelry”
Lang Antiques – Antique Jewelry University – https://www.langantiques.com/university/byzantine-jewelry/ – “Byzantine Jewelry”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_eye – “Evil Eye”
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazar_(amulet) – “Nazar (amulet)”

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What is Steampunk?

What is Steampunk?

The Time Machine

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy. When looking for a definition of Steampunk, it is described as:

A genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.

A style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.

The term “Steampunk” originates from the late 80s, although there were many works of Steampunk fiction created much earlier than the 1980s. It was coined in 1987 by science fiction author K.W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986), and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 & Infernal Devices, 1987)—all of which took place in a 19th-century (mostly Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of such actual Victorian speculative fiction as H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

The Steampunk genre incorporates technology and aesthetic designs, inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Technology like the fictional machines as found in the works of H.G. Wells, Jules Verne and modern authors as Philip Pullman, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville, and other alternative history-style technology examples, e.g. steam cannons, lighter-than-air-airships, analogue computers, and machines working on clockworks, wind and waterpower, are characteristic features of Steampunk. It is often recognized by anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people during the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style and art.

Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or the American Wild West, in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power, although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre. It may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of Fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history or other branches of speculative fiction, thus making it kind of a hybrid genre. Besides, Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of Steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Aspects of Steampunk design emphasize a balance between form and function, although Steampunk fashion has no set guidelines but tends to synthesize modern styles with influences from the Victorian era. Steampunk outfits often have accents with several technological and “period” accessories, such as timepieces, flying/driving goggles, ray guns, et cetera. One of the most significant contributions in Steampunk is the way it mixes digital media with traditional handmade art forms.

Various modern utilitarian objects have been modified by individual artisans into pseudo-Victorian mechanical Steampunk style and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as
Steampunk. Steampunk fashion designer Kate Lambert, known as “Kato”, launched the first steampunk clothing company in 2005, mixing Victorian and post-apocalyptic influences. She certainly stirred up the fashion industry with this, for in 2013 IBM predicted that ” …’steampunk,’ a subgenre inspired by the clothing, technology and social mores of Victorian society, will be a major trend to bubble up and take hold of the retail industry.”, based on analysis of more than half a million public posts on message boards, blogs, social media sites and news sources. (Dahncke, Pasha Ray. “IBM Social Sentiment Index Predicts New Retail Trend in the Making” (Press release). IBM. Retrieved 18 February 2013.) They were right: well-known fashion lines such as Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and others had already been introducing Steampunk styles on the fashion runways.

In 2006 the first neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention took place, which was covered by MTV and The New York Times. Since that first “SalonCon” a number of popular Steampunk conventions and events arose around the world. Some festivals have organised events or a “Steampunk Day”, while others just support an open environment for wearing Steampunk attire.

In recentSteampunk Gems Gallery image for Steampunk Necklaces years Steampunk is increasing in its popularity and there is a growing movement of people who would like to establish Steampunk as a culture and lifestyle. That is one of the reasons, why I decided to make my Steampunk jewellery more accessible for all people. In my opinion it is fantastic to be able to wear certain accessories with a Steampunk character on your daily attire, whether that is a complete “authentic” Steampunk outfit or on ordinary clothes as you go to work, to school or do whatever it is you do during the day. Thus I decided to design accessories as bracelets, necklaces, earrings, brooches and hair clips that are just that little bit different with a special Steampunk hint, and making use of cogs, gears and other clock parts and sticking to colours that fit with the Steampunk genre, like ancient copper, ancient bronze, ancient silver, golden and rose tints.

For more information about Steampunk I would like to refer you to e.g.:

(English) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

(Dutch) https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk

http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com/what-is-steampunk/

http://www.rebelsmarket.com/blog/posts/what-is-steampunk

Gwendolyne Blaney – November 2017

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Gwendolyne of Gwendolyne's Steampunk Gems for unique gifts

Steampunk Jewellery and me . . . .

Steampunk jewellery and me. . . . .  where do I begin, oh yes, since my earliest childhood, I (Gwendolyne Blaney) have had a great love for Fantasy, Goth and Steampunk.

This showed throughh the books I love to read, the clothes I love to wear and the sort jewellery I love to collect. For instance, when I was a teenager, I only had the 4 posters of Alfons Mucha’s “The Times of Day” on my bedroom wall instead of the popular actors and singers most teenagers probably decorated their rooms with.

Some time ago, while I was using some clock parts designing some necklaces, one of my favourite pastimes, I discovered how much I liked creating jewellery with a Steampunk character. I got so passionate about making these Steampunk Gems, that within no time I had designed and created over a 100 pendants, earrings, hair clips, and bracelets, using among others little cogs and wheels, tiny screws and other clock parts. What an awesome hobby!

Friends, acquaintances, but also strangers in the street, were interested in my unique handcrafted Steampunk necklaces that I was wearing and asked if I had any that were for sale. All of those people, who genuinely loved my work, had no specific interest in Steampunk or even knew what it was! Thus the thought of making my hobby into my work by creating my own little web shop arose, so I could make more people happy with the Steampunk jewellery I make. With the technical knowledge, skills and help of my dear husband, John Blaney, this web shop was created.

I am of the opinion, that Steampunk does not only fit the role playing games industry, Fantasy and Steampunk events or Carnival, but that elegant Steampunk jewellery can be worn by anyone at any time. All the jewellery I make are my own designs and creations. Besides, all products are handcrafted and unique. Although some products may look alike, for instance because of variations in colour, most of them are still one of a kind. Therefore I decided to give the Steampunk gems their own name and number. If there are more of a certain item then this will be mentioned with the product on the site.

The Steampunk accessories are made with vulnerable small parts and have to be handled with care. As with most jewellery, my jewellery is not suitable for young children because of its small parts. It may happen that (part of) the jewellery shows some discoloration because of the reaction of the PH value of the human skin with the materials of the jewellery parts used. This is different for every person and unfortunately, I cannot do anything about that.

Besides the categories with Steampunk products, there is also a non-Steampunk category. Here you will find some stylish products that I handcrafted myself and that is for sale, but that does not have a distinguished Steampunk character.

My products can only be ordered online. Your order will be sent to you once your payment has been received on the account. Prices on the web shop are excluding VAT and exclusive of postal charges. The VAT will be shown before you pay on the check-out page as well as the delivery charges. Special offers are being made visible on the website and are of a temporary nature.

For questions or specific requests concerning my Steampunk jewellery you can send an email to: info@steampunkgems.net. I will try to contact you as soon as possible with an answer. Or you can give us a ring at this mobile number from Monday to Friday in between 10:00-17:00 hrs CET: 0031 6192 04491. Obviously, during my holidays I cannot answer emails or phone calls, but I will try to get back to you as soon as possible when work starts again.

There is also a Facebook page, an Instagram account and a Twitter page for Steampunk Gems. Feel free to take a look. I hope you will appreciate my little Steampunk gems. I will try to add some new jewellery to the shop every other month.

For more detailed information about GSG Steampunk Gems, products and prices, delivery and postal services, privacy policy, et cetera, you can read the Terms & Conditions.

Gwendolyne Blaney – ©2017-2020

Gwendolyne’s Steampunk Gems (GSG) is registered at the Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands with registration number: 70080992.

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