18 May 2016

The Jade Stone

Jade has held a special attraction for mankind for thousands of years. Known in China as "yu" (the royal gem), it is typically a green stone used for ornaments and implements.

Within Chinese art and culture, jade has always had a very special significance but has also been honoured and esteemed by other cultures throughout time. Most notable are the Mayans, Aztecs and Olmecs of Central America who valued Jade higher than gold, while in ancient Egypt the stone was admired as a symbol of love, inner peace, harmony and balance.

Jade can differ in colour ranging from blues, whites, pink or varied shades of red, but is widely recognised as green. In general, the value of jade is determined according to its colour and its intensity. In the very finest jade the colour is evenly distributed.

Symbolically jade is regarded as lucky or protective and stands for energy and beauty, combining the traditional and the modern in a particularly harmonious way.

Below we've displayed a selection of some our most beautiful jade items. 

A 19th century Chinese contrasting celadon jade carving of a recumbent deer, available from  David Bowden

A fine 4.33ct lavender jadeite cabochon, simply set in 18k gold. available from Arts of Asia

A jade ring with diamond borders, available from M & A Kaae

18ct gold, coral and jade drop earrings with detachable drops, available from Horton London

Jade & diamond brooch with original case by Liberty, available from Emmy Abe

White jade with carving available from Alexandra’s Art Corner

13 May 2016


From the 12th to the 15th of May at the Dulwich Picture Gallery you can go and join in a cultural celebration of all things Scandinavian. This spring the Scandimania events include a wide variety of scandi themed activities, from live music and outdoor cinema to crochet, weaving and paint workshops.

A well celebrated Scandinavian feature is the popular designs in both interiors and jewellery. Distinctive Scandinavian jewellery has been produced at least since the time of the Vikings, with heavily embellished bracelets, rings, and pendants featuring complex knotted designs displaying symbolic animals and signs. However, the region's unique industry did not come into its own until the turn of the 20th century, when Scandinavian artisans looked to indigenous craft-oriented arts to inform their designs.

Because of the material shortages during the two world wars, Scandinavian designers were pushed  to experiment with other materials such as ceramics, glass, iron and bronze, reserving silver and gold for inlays or settings.

Norway distinguished itself in the enameled metal arts, and firms like Marius Hammer and David-Andersen adapted the basse-taille and plique-à-jour techniques for jewellery production. In Denmark, the Arts and Crafts movement, also known as skønvirke or “beautiful work”, relied heavily on a sculptural quality achieved through repoussage or chasing. Skønvirke pieces were typically made in silver and sometimes set with cabochons of precious stones.

Both of these movements took inspiration from the reigning Art Nouveau trends of bright colours and densely layered floral shapes. Examples of famous designers are Georg Jensen, Gabrielson Pederson, Sigvard Bernadotte, Nanna, Jørgen Ditzel and Kalevala Koru.

Here at Grays we are joining in the Scandimania by selecting some of our most beautiful Scandinavian designs.

A pair of silver caviar spoons. 1887 by Jacob Tostrup (Norwegian). Offered by Past and Present
Georg Jensen classic vintage hand hammered silver bowl with Danish and English hallmarks, London 1924.
Offered by Past and Present
Swedish silver & enamel casket, a magnificent piece for any collection. Superb workmanship.
Import marks for Cohen & Charles, London 1914. Offered by Decart7
Top quality silver and enamel dish. Made in Norway by Marius Hammer. 1920s. Offered by  Evonne Antiques
A sculptural brooch of a heron set with a moonstone. Denmark. Circa 1910. Jacob Thage. Offered by Van Den Bosch

A Skonvirke silver brooch set with three red amber drops. Denmark. Circa 1910. Danish Jewellery. Jacob Thage.
Offered by Van Den Bosch

5 May 2016

Artisans at Grays

London Craft Week is in full swing and will run until 7 May, showcasing exceptional craftsmanship from around the world. With more than 130 events spread across five of the capital's key artisanal areas, it will comprise of demonstrations, workshops and exhibits featuring the products of imagination, individuality, passion and skill. Watch in awe as a variety of creative makers get crafty in their chosen field.

At Grays we have our very own specialist craftsmen: Bennett & Thorogood are freehand quality engravers (since 1965), and are highly skilled in hand engraving all precious metals and a wide variety of objects from gold and silver jewellery to watches, tankards, napkins and umbrellas.

Few people understand the skill and attention to detail involved in the traditional craft of hand engraving. It is a field that requires specialist knowledge and substantial artistic and calligraphic skill. Even the simplest engraved details – some initials, a date, or just a few decorative lines – can give personality, life and sentiment to an inanimate object. Historically it has been used in both practical and decorative applications; from hunting arms to royal seals, coins and bank notes to jewellery, its influences are all around us.

Example of engraving on a tankard, by Bennett & Thorogood
Example of engraving on a wine glass, by Bennett & Thorogood

Alfred Toro repairs jewellery, specialising in restoring antique jewellery. In addition, Alfred designs and makes his own jewellery, he is skilled in the age old technique of wax carving - a fascinating way of making silver and gold jewellery by carving jewellery out of wax, then creating a mould of the wax to make a solid silver or gold version of the wax mould. 

Alfred is a 'bench jeweller' - an artisan who uses a combination of jewellery making skills to make and repair jewellery and has a larger set of skills. Bench jewellers have a great knowledge of different craft techniques such as goldsmithing and silversmithing, as well as traditional bench skills such as soldering, resizing rings and setting stones.

Wax carving of a hog by Alfred Toro

Alfred's workbench

Bennett & Thorogood | Stand 109 | Tel: 020 7408 1880
Alfred Toro | Stand 104 | Tel:  020 7495 7068

3 May 2016

The River Tyburn

The Tyburn provided water for London from the 13th Century onwards, however there are even earlier written accounts of the Tyburn, dating back to 785 A.D. Today, the tributary can still be seen within the basement of Grays, where it has become a popular tourist attraction filled with fish.

For many centuries, the name Tyburn was synonymous with capital punishment, it having been the principal place for the execution of London criminals and convicted traitors. Before Oxford Street took its present name within the 18th century, it was called Tyburn Road, which led to the Tyburn hanging gallows at the location of Marble Arch and Tyburn Lane.

The Grade II listed Edwardian building that Grays resides in was originally designed for J.Bolding and Son plumbers. When Grays owner Bennie Gray discovered the running water through the basement when he bought the building in 1977, he decided to keep it and now the basement within the Grays Mews is one of the sole places where you can view the Tyburn as running water. It also flows deep beneath the grounds Buckingham Palace.

At Grays we have a great selection of dealers with shops alongside the Tyburn. We have selected a few of our favourite pieces from these dealers below:

19th Century Red goblet with lid, c1870-1880. Available from Mousa Antiques

Vintage Turquoise Glass and Diamante Necklace 1950s available from Arabella Bianco

19th Century Tall green vases with linear gold design, c1870-1880, available from Mousa Antiques

19th Century Yellow glass depicting a stag, c1880. Available from Mousa Antiques

20th Century Dan running mask in form of an anthropomorphised hare, avaliable from Peter Sloane

21 April 2016

Happy Birthday Queenie

Today; 21, April, we celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, and with this in mind, we have decided to put the spotlight on one of Her Majesty's favourite fashion designers; Norman Hartnell (1901-1979). June Victor at Vintage Modes, Grays, has a covetous collection of Hartnell finery on offer, as she also does at sister centre Alfies

Hartnell came to prominence when he gained the Royal Warrant as dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1940 after designing the famous 'White Wardrobe' (photographed by Cecil Beaton) in the late 1930s, which changed the Queen Mother's image forever. These elegant Norman Hartnell gowns were worn on a royal visit to France, aimed at strengthening Anglo-French ties. The French press praised the demeanour and charm of the King and Queen during the successful visit, augmented by Hartnell's wardrobe.

A Hartnell gown designed for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the 1930s, part of “The White Wardrobe".

Hartnell went on to design gowns for the two most important occasions in the Queen's life: her wedding and her coronation. Six years after Hartnell designed Queen Elizabeth’s sumptuous wedding dress in 1947, he was commissioned to design the coronation gown - the iconic dress of the mid-twentieth century - and Maid of Honour gowns. It took eight months of research, design and workmanship to make the intricate embroidery of the coronation gown. The Queen was so pleased with the outcome that afterwards Hartnell began to exclusively create her entire wardrobe and produced many of her finest evening dresses. Hartnell gained the Royal Warrant as dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.

Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown. The crystal and seed pearl roses, wheat sheafs and leaves embellishment took 350 seamstresses seven weeks to complete.

The Coronation Gown: The dress was to be an historic masterpiece befitting the occasion.

The largest display of the Queen's dresses and accessories, including Hartnell's designs, will open to the public later this month to mark the monarch's 90th birthday. The exhibition - Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen's Wardrobe - is today being held at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, her Scottish home in Edinburgh.

However, if you long for a highly sought after Norman Hartnell piece of your own, then look no further than Vintage Modes, Grays.

Rose pink silk velvet matching dress jacket trimmed with beading, late 1950s early 1960s, offered by June Victor at Vintage Modes 

Stunning 1950s black silk velvet couture dress with matching jacket trimmed with lace embellish, offered by June Victor at Vintage Modes 

1960s Bugle beaded cocktail dress, offered by June Victor at Vintage Modes 

1950s silk crepe outfit, beaded trim and mink cuffs,  offered by June Victor at Vintage Modes 

Rare 1950s vintage flower and drop Norman Hartnell necklace, offered by Arabella Bianco

We have also spotted these fabulously royal items at Linda Bee's stand at Grays

Vintage crown shaped perfume bottle, from Linda Bee.

Vintage crown shaped perfume bottle, from Linda Bee.

Vintage crown shaped diamante brooch, from Linda Bee.

All items posted are for sale. If you have any queries please leave a comment or visit us at Grays in Mayfair, London Alternatively you can call us on 020 7409 0400 or email info@vintagemodes.co.uk

14 April 2016

Dealer Spotlight: Hallmark Antiques

Please tell us a bit about yourselves and what you specialise in.

We are Hallmark Antiques. We have been in business for 37 years, specialising in small silver collectables and Arts & Crafts items, including Liberty & Co silver and pewter items, with original enamels. We also stock fine jewellery.

How did you start your career in antiques?

One of the partners of Hallmark Antiques is a member of The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, which enables us to give professional advice to our customers. We enjoy what we do!

Do you have a personal favourite in your collection?

Yes, a giant copper inkwell made by the famous metal artist, Richard Rathbone. I've never seen one like it before. It's one-of-a-kind!

One-off large handmade hand beaten copper inkwell, by Rathbone. Arts & Crafts movement, c1880-1900.

Do you have an item that has an interesting story behind it?

As above.

Richard Llewellyn Rathbone (1864-1939), was one of the best metalworkers of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He was born in Lancashire, son of Richard Rathbone, a Liverpool merchant. He established his own studio in Liverpool in the 1890s and taught metalworking at the University of Liverpool. In c1903 he moved to London where he was appointed head of the Sir John Cass Institute and taught at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts. He supplied many companies like Morris and Co, Arthur Simpson and The Handicrafts, and Liberty's to name but a few.

Below is just a small example of the stock Hallmark Antiques currently have on offer.
Blue enamel & pewter jug by Liberty & Co “Tudric” –  pewter brand, c1900.
6 Liberty sterling silver spoons, boxed. Birmingham, 1929.

Liberty Tudric pewter vase, c1900, original green glass hand blown liner
Unknown maker Arts and Crafts hand-beaten copper tea box

Sterling silver & wood candlesticks by A.E. Jones, Birmingham 1922.

Duchess of Sutherland Cripples' Guild bowl in copper and silver, handmade.

Blue enamel & pewter dish by Liberty & Co “Tudric” –  pewter brand, c1900

Hallmark Antiques were recently recommended by Bonhams as a place to buy Art & Crafts antiques, in The London Magazine.

Hallmark Antiques 
Stand 319 & 356
Tel: 020 7629 8757

7 April 2016

The Watch Through Time

Timekeeping has been part of our culture for thousands of years and through time we have made use of various instruments such as large obelisks, water clocks, candle clocks, time sticks, hourglasses and sundials. The most common version is called the sexagesimal system which is a numeral system with sixty as its base. It originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BC and was passed down to the ancient Babylonians, and is still used, in a modified form, today.

The modern watch, which was created during the 16th century, was made as a mechanical device powered by winding up a mainspring. The first timepiece to be worn on the body was also developed during this period and called a "clock-watch” and was either fastened to the clothes or worn on a chain around the neck. One century later the arrival of the "pocket watch" became the latest thing for fashionable males, while the female fashion still kept to the pendant design and would do so until the early 20th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century new fashion trends migrated time to the human wrist, putting the wrist watch in the spotlight. Before this, the wrist watch had almost exclusively been worn by women, but now it was also introduced to the male wearer by military men fighting in the First World War. This was because of the need and importance of synchronizing manoeuvres without potentially revealing the plan to the enemy through signaling, making the wrist watch a perfect solution.

Here at Grays we have many wonderful watch and timepiece dealers, who have a variety of period pieces.

Below we have selected a few beautiful pieces:

A Revival period 14 hour Ting-Tang chiming walnut cased Bracket clock, c1855-60 by Lenzkirch Germany, est 1851.
Offered by Old As Time Antiques.

Beautiful pocket watch. Offered by Spectrum.

Eighteen carat gold watch by Cartier, Paris. Called the 'Panthere', 1988. Offered by Diem.

Must de Cartier quartz tank watch. Swiss made, gold plate on silver, 1980s. Offered by Past & Present.

A Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch. Offered by Timespec.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...