23 November 2015

Christmas at Kew Gardens!

It's that time of year again and Christmas is can already be seen across London, with its spectacular illuminations and festive atmosphere. Everyone is spreading their own Christmas magic and Kew Gardens is no exception. By Wednesday 27th 2015 up until 2nd January 2016, this magnificent garden will have a beautiful seasonal transformation!

Decorated Christmas trees at Kew Gardens

But with or without the splendor of Christmas, Kew Gardens is truly one of London's most beautiful places. Situated in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, it holds the world's largest collection of living plants. The Collection includes more than 30,000 different kinds of plants together with an impressive herbarium containing over seven million preserved plant specimens. It also hosts a library which includes more than 750,000 volumes and over 175,000 illustrations. In addition, in 2003 Kew Gardens was added to the list of world heritage sites by UNESCO. The gardens even has its own police force, Kew Constabulary, which has been in operation since 1847.

The gardens as we know them today were founded in 1840, created from the exotic garden at Kew Park, but their origins can be traced all the way back to the merging of the Royal estates of Richmond and Kew in 1772.  Ever since then it has been structured, built and changed by many, although some of its earlier creations still remain today, such as the lofty Chinese pagoda built in 1761 by William Chambers, and the adjoining ‘Dutch House’. This was purchased by George III in 1781 as a nursery for the royal children, and is today better known as Kew Palace.

Other popular features are Palm House, the Nash and the Princess of Wales Conservatories and Queen Charlotte's Cottage, just to mention a few. 

Though nothing can really compare to the glorious greens and colourful shades of nature, the seasonal illuminations that light up the buildings, trails and plantings do create a special kind of warmth and delight. With the mile-long trail that will lead visitors past dancing lit-up fountains, a scented fire garden and many decorated Christmas trees, Kew Gardens will most definitely plant a wonderful seasonal mood in both mind and heart. 

At least it has done so here at Grays and while we count down the days ‘til Christmas, we have collected some of our own splendid examples of nature.  
18ct gold, jade and diamond leaf earrings. Offered by Spectrum

20th century, white paste, leaf shaped, double clip brooch. Offered by Gillian Horsup.

Edwardian platinum cluster ring, c1910. Offered by John Joseph.
18ct gold, diamond & ruby enamel bee necklace. Offered by Spectrum.
20th century, vintage, gold tone mesh snake brooch. Offered by Gillian Horsup.

1890s, large bronze jay bird signed by Bergmann. Offered by Mariad Antiques.

18 November 2015

International Men's Day 2015

International Men's Day (IMD) is a yearly global event celebrated in more than 80 nations - including the UK - on the Thursday, 19 November. IMD is a worldwide grassroots movement that welcomes everyone on the planet to come together and celebrate men in all their diversity.

Each year the event has grown in popularity, and is consequently celebrated by an assortment of organisations, plus public and charitable sectors in the UK, which use the event to highlight the need to provide more support to men and boys across the globe.

The current year's theme is 'keeping men and boys safe' and is designed to help more people consider what action we can all take to make a difference by addressing some of the issues that affect men and boys all over the world.To find out about International Men's Day and the events they are running throughout the event you can follow the www.ukmensday.org.uk 

Below we have selected a few of our favourite 'mantiques' from Grays which you can spoil a man with this year on IMD.

Art Deco gold filled pocket watch from Nayabelle

Balloon cased clock 2hour, 8 day clock with a French movement
housed in a solid mahogany case. 1905 from Old As Time Antiques

Edwardian Carved Intaglio Rock Crystal Dog Cufflinks from The Antique Jewellery Company

Half pint pewter tankard with curving handle. English, c.1820 from Jane Stewart

Skeleton clock single fusee 1900-1915 from Old As time Antiques

5 November 2015

ASIAN ART IN LONDON: 5 November - 14 November 2015

It's the eighteenth year of Asian Art in London, bringing together over 60 of the world’s top dealers, major auction houses and museums, and highlighting a wide range of antique and contemporary Asian art. This event will comprise of exhibitions, lectures, gallery talks, collectors talks, auctions, study days and performances. 

Following the UK-China Summit in London last June, the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange showcases the very best of British culture in China and vice versa. This year the Asian Art in London Gala Party celebrates this cultural exchange with support from the Chinese Embassy. 

The winner of the Asian Art in London Award 2015, will also be announced on night of the Gala. 10 works of art are drawn from across the region, showcasing a wide range of materials and techniques. The prize will be judged by a committee including curators from the Ashmolean Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Below are a few examples of the shortlisted objects: 

Imperial gilt-bronze ‘dragon’ ritual bell, 1716, Chinese (Kangxi period) Christie’s London

Bidri hookah base, 1650–75, Indian (Deccan, Bidar) Simon Ray Indian and Islamic Works of Art

White marble Ganesh, mid 9th century, Afghanistan (Hindu Shahi/post-Gupta Period) Joost van den Bergh

During this ten-day festival we are putting Grays on the map (and all year round!). Our dealers stock an incredible selection of Asian ceramics, silver, sculpture and art. 

Below is just a small example of items our dealers have on offer..

Chinese porcelain snuff bottle, Liu Hai, offered by David Bowden

Blue & white Chinese jar, c1622-1722, offered by Wheatley Antiques

Garuda 18th/19th century, bronze, solid casting, two parts, offered by Matthew Wood
Safavid tile, Persian, 17th Century, offered by Antique Choices

Rare Chinese helmet-shaped famille verte ewer, Kangxi (1662-1722), offered by A Guest & Gray

19th Century Chinese export Tu Mao Xing, solid silver, seven piece tea set, c.1880, offered by Pushkin Antiques Ltd

30 October 2015

The Fabric of India

Running from 3 October 2015 – 10 January 2016, 'The Fabric of India' is an exhibition at the V&A which forms a part of their India Festival. It is the first major exhibition to explore the dynamic and multifaceted world of handmade textiles from India from the 3rd to the 21st century.

The exhibition will showcase the best of the Victoria and Albert Museum's world-renowned collection, as well as masterpieces from international partners and leading designers, incorporating in total over 200 objects. A lot of these items will be on display for the first time and will take in a range of historic dress, heirloom fabrics, and cutting-edge fashion.

Indian fabrics have forever been symbolic, whether that be of wealth, status or religion. Courtly splendour was shown by wearing sumptuous fabrics, while religious worship is still represented by sacred cloths. 

Today, young designers are adapting traditional making techniques to create exciting new fashion, art and design, and one of those designers is Geeta Handa of C-Atomic, a dealer, designer and artist, who is based within Vintage Modes at Grays. 

A British Asian designer and artist, Geeta has created a stunning collection of modern, vintage style pieces, using classic Indian fabrics. She has been Influenced by both her Indian and British heritage and each unique garment has been designed to be a combination of timeless ethnic fabrics and iconic western vintage silhouettes.

A vibrant mix of royal Benares handloom silks, Zardosi artisan embroidery work, Jhodpuri blue Jute, Buta (Paisley) Jacquards, Rajasthani Shisha (mirror) work and handcrafted embroidery is incorporated into both garments and accessories.

Black velour Indian fabric waistcoat, with gold and silver embroidery and gold piping.
Indian Benares silk pussy-bow blouse with woolen skirt

Chiffon Mix 'Bardot' Dress

C-Atomic, based within Vintage Modes
Grays Mews, lower-ground floor

All pieces available to view online: www.graysantiques.com/dealerDetail.php?dealer=547

07961 506 777 / geetahanda.c@gmail.com

23 October 2015


Halloween is a yearly festival on the 31st of October, the eve of All Hallows' Day. It starts a three-day recognition of all hallow tide, the time in the liturgical year devoted to remembering the dead.

The customs and significance of Halloween vary in every culture. In Scotland and Ireland, customary customs include children dressing up in costumes going "guising", as well as holding gatherings, while different practices in Ireland incorporate lighting bonfires and having firework shows.

From the nineteenth century Halloween has been a major holiday in North America, and largely celebrated in the United States and Canada. This large North American impact, especially in iconic and commercial elements, has reached out around the globe and had a significant effect on how the occasion is seen in different nations.

There are various relics and symbols connected with Halloween. Amongst the most well known is the Jack-o'-lights. These are traditionally carried by guisers on Halloween evening with the purpose of frightening evil spirits. There is a popular Irish Christian folktale connected with the jack-o'-lantern, which, in legend, is said to speak to a "spirit who has been denied passage into both heaven and hell".

Here is a round up of our favourite ghoulish jewellery and spooky objects at Grays:

Bourjois Evening in Paris Owl, available from Gillian Horsup

Diamond & Ruby Spider Brooch, 1940s. Avaliable from Minoo and Andre

1930s Cat, available from Linda Bee

Vintage Spider necklace, available from Linda Bee

Lea Stein Cat brooch, available from Marie Niemis

Vintage Lea Stein Cat Brooch, 1960s. Available from Linda Bee

16 October 2015

Green, White and Purple - Join the Sensation!

Suffragette jewellery is back! This week the film "Suffragette” was released, portraying the suffragette movement's fight for women's right to vote and for steps towards equality in the early 20th century.


However, the true reason behind why these three colours were chosen is still not entirely clear. One thing we do know is that the style of jewellery at the beginning of the 1900s was moving towards softer and more feminine colours and shapes, of which the rise of Art Nouveau is a perfect example. Gems such as tourmaline, amethyst, pearl, peridot, diamond and emerald, set in gold or silver, were very popular and this could have possibly influenced the choice in colour. Wearing these gems would allow women who wanted to demonstrate their support and commitment to do so discreetly.

Another suggestion is that Mrs Pethick-Lawrence, an activist and editor of the "Votes for Women" magazine, connected the colours to the cause by writing: "Purple [...] stands for the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette, the instinct of freedom and dignity; white stands for purity in private and public life; green is the colour of hope and the emblem of spring."
Another well know explanation is that Emmeline and Chris­ta­bel Pankhurst, also famous activists within the movement, adopted the three colours as: Green = Give, White = Woman and Violet = Vote; which was the slogan of the movement. 

Whatever the reason or reasons behind it, suffragette jewellery is a very beautiful visual expression of historic courage and aesthetic delight and here at Grays we have some wonderful examples to offer.

9ct Yellow gold amethyst, peridot & pearl bangle, c1920s. Offered by Westminster Group at Grays.
A Victorian 15ct gold cabochon amethyst heart pendant surrounded by a border of double row split pearls. Offered by Spectrum.

Edwardian Double Heart Brooch set with Peridots & Natural Split Pearls, offered by The Antique Jewellery Company at Grays.

Fine gold enamelled asymmetric amethyst diamond and natural pearl pendant. 1890 - 1910. Offered by Rowan & Rowan at Grays.

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