I often add a gold enamel locket on an antique snake-link chain, or a lily of the valley Essex crystal on a slightly finer snake chain.
I bought these core pieces during the time I was a jewellery dealer in London, from 1978 until 1986. It was my great adventure, and my apprenticeship years. My training college was the antique markets of London – Portobello Road, Bermondsey, Camden Passage, Christie’s South Kensington, Sunday antique fairs in grand hotels, and Hatton Garden.
And I associate many of these jewels with the people I bought them from.
A favourite pair of earrings from John Joseph, who many of you know on Instagram as @john_antique_1234, came in their original box. Interestingly, these English earrings have an unusual carat tag applied to the back: 16 – not the normal 15 or 18 from about 1870. This was a time when standards of gold were quite fluid and were still being established.
My Georgian diamond ring was bought early one Wednesday morning at Camden Passage market from Johnny Beslali. He always went buying around the shops in the lanes of Brighton on Tuesdays, so would appear in London with fresh jewels on Wednesday mornings.
I have worn it every day since then. It has been through so much that it is now a part of me. I’m not superstitious normally, but putting this ring on every day empowers me.
We are drawn to jewellery that suits both us and our lifestyles. My ring from about 1830 is beautiful in my eyes because it still has the slight heaviness and irregularity of the time, compared with similar, beautiful Edwardian or Art Deco diamond cluster rings.
As I don’t have beautiful hands I feel comfortable with the understated flash and fire of its old mine cut diamonds. I also appreciate that the open setting of the diamonds means I don’t have to take it off to wash my hands, unlike some Georgian rings which have foil-backed closed settings and will darken if exposed to water.
I’ve loved this ring so much I’ve even had to have my goldsmith replace the band a couple of times because I’ve worn it through!
In the mid-Victorian period when my earrings were made, the discoveries of ancient designs were inspiring all fashionable jewellers. Etruscan, Greek, Assyrian or, as here, Roman styles were all embraced. Italy was the great originator of these fashions, but they soon became the jewels of choice for all stylish women internationally.
I find them as timeless in their appeal as those women from the 1860s and 70s did. Their classical symmetrical simplicity and the soft colour of old gold make them jewels I feel comfortable wearing every day.
I’ll talk more about my other core pieces in a later blog.
Antique diamond & engagement rings Sydney – old antique earrings Australia