27 August 2015

Micro Mosaic Jewellery

While on the lookout for interesting jewellery pieces for a recent magazine photo shoot, we spotted beautiful micro mosaic jewellery and instantly fell in love with these awe-inspiring mini-masterpieces. 

The term micro mosaic, coined by British-born businessmen and collector Sir Arthur Gilbert, referred to Roman mosaics created from tiny fragments of glass called tesserae. These intricately crafted pieces depicted ancient Italian historical sites, as well as animal, bird, insect and floral motifs with incredible realism.  Mosaics were made into small oval or circular plaques cemented to a glass, stone, or metal background and incorporated into brooches, pins, pendants, necklaces, earrings, and rings. Many of these pieces were sold as souvenirs during the Grand Tour Era and the wealthiest tourists would even commission their own mosaics. Despite their popularity, micro mosaic jewellery was rarely mentioned in the jewellery design reports of their time, sadly indicating the lack of appreciation for the precision and tremendous level of workmanship required to create these magnificent pieces. The early 20th century saw the downfall of this form of art, with the higher quality micro mosaic jewellery ceasing to be made. 

Micro mosaic jewellery is a true work of art and finer quality pieces are rare to find.  We are delighted to have found some wonderful pieces at Grays. Here are our favourites: 

18ct gold Victorian micro mosaic bulla pendant set in 18ct, Etruscan style made in Italy.
Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company
Silver gilt micro mosaic Victorian pendant, made in Italy.
Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company

18ct gold Victorian micro mosaic brooch set into a blue glass surround, made in Italy.
Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company
Italian c.1810 micro mosaic plaque of a crane, in original gold surround.
Offered by Peter Szuhay

14 August 2015

International Ebola Recovery Conference

Kamba Fine Art is a gallery based in Grays devoted to the development of contemporary art in non-Western nations, and supports emerging and established African talent, giving them a platform for their work.

This year Kamba Gallery have been invited by the Sierra Leone High Commission to attend the International Ebola Recovery Conference in New York on 24th of October  2015. Kamba will be raising funds for the victims of the Ebola crisis by showing a series of unique art pieces created by 20 prominent African artists. The gallery have commissioned 40 works to be created for the auction in reaction to the Ebola crisis, after the conference they will be generously donated to areas that have been affected by the Ebola outbreak. These pieces will be placed in hospitals, schools, museums and national parks.

This will be Kamba Gallery's second visit to the UN after participating in the UN’s 70th Anniversary in July last year. In conjunction to this event in New York, the gallery is also planning to hold an auction in London to help raise money for the Sierra Leone based charities, Street Child and Excel. Before their trip to the UN, Kamba Gallery will hold an exhibition in London at Gallery 8 which will take place 23 - 30 September, 2015.

For more information on the International Ebola Recovery Conference or the auction visit the Kamba Fine Art website or see below for a selection of works that will be available at auction.

Bunmi Babatunde - Survivor’s Rhapsody 1, 1989. Cold cast.

Damilola Odusote - Protector, 2015. Acrylic on canvas.
Francis Uduh - S.O.S 1, 2012. Cold cast fiberglass.

Duke Asid - Friends, 2015. Oil on canvas.

Emeka Nwagbara - Together We Overcome, 2015. Oil on canvas.

30 July 2015

Antiques Roadshow: Balmoral Castle

Today's Antiques Roadshow will be a special one - it will be filmed at Balmoral, the Royal Family's most private residence. For over 150 years this castle has been home to royal traditions of picnics, stag hunting and kilts.

Balmoral, c.1890–1900

A large estate house in Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, it became a royal residency in the Autumn of 1852, when Prince Albert formally took possession, the price being £32,000. In her journals Queen Victoria described Balmoral as "my dear paradise in the Highlands".

Along with Sandringham House in Norfolk, ownership of Balmoral was inherited by Edward VIII on his accession in 1936.

Edward VII relaxing at Balmoral Castle, c1907-1908
The lodge has been in the news periodically since 2005, because Queen Elizabeth often spends the first few days of her summer holiday in the lodge. Will she make a guest appearance on the Antiques Roadshow?

At Grays, we came across a few antiques that wouldn't look out of place in the Scottish home of the Royal Family....

'A Water Party', Oil on canvas, John James Chalon (1778-1854). Signed and dated lower right 1836. Offered by Horton London

Solid sterling silver ornate candlesticks, offered by AMS Antiques

Red and gold bohemian centrepiece with a portrait of a lady. c1870-1880, offered by Mousa Antiques
Victorian Scottish Banded Agate Bracelet, offered by Nayabelle

Edwardian urn vases, offered by Past and Present

19th Century Scottish solid silver 3 piece decorative tea set, Glasgow c.1894, offered by Pushkin Antiques Ltd

24 July 2015

The Antiques for Everyone Summer Fair

The Antiques for Everyone Summer Fair is the largest antiques, interiors and collectables fair outside of London, it is held three times a year at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Running from the 23rd until the 26th of July the fair hosts 200 dealers selling a vast array of objects including furniture, 20th century art, jewellery, silver, ceramics and glass to name a few. All pieces are vetted by a leading team of experts like Antiques Roadshow's Judith Miller and Will Farmer, who will also be hosting a number of talks and events throughout the duration of the fair.

A few of our dealers are exhibiting at Antiques for Everyone - you will find Sheldon Shapiro, Saul Greenstein and DB Gems. So if you are unable to make it to the Birmingham fair, you can visit our dealers at Grays all year round. 

Victorian pearl locket & chain, available from Sheldon Shapiro

Large aquamarine & diamond cocktail ring, available from DB Gems

1950s Heart shape mabe pearl & diamond pendant, available from Sheldon Shapiro
Fine Art Deco Egyptian revival pyramid ruby and diamond geometric ring, available from DB Gems
Victorian snake ring, available from S.Greenstein
Ruby diamond ring, available from S.Greenstein

Meissen Encrusted Paperweight Surmounted with a Pug Dog, c.1870 available from Serhat Ahmet

1918 Silver sugar sifter by James Deakin & Sons, available from Past & Present

17 July 2015

The Magic of Perfume Bottles

Would you agree with Christian Dior that, “a woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting?” You might think that this is a rather exaggerated statement, but some believe in the magical powers of perfumes; their ability to evoke memories and to stimulate senses. Such precious liquids required special vessels to match their extraordinary effects. 

Until 1900 perfume was sold in ordinary glass vials from a chemist where you would have it refilled with your chosen fragrance.  The elaborate perfume containers desired by some had to be purchased separately at a much higher cost.  It was Francoise Coty, a Parisian perfume maker who, in the 1900s, launched the commercial perfume bottle that we have today. Inspired by Rene Lalique and his famous glass creations, Coty commissioned Lalique to design attractive labels for his perfume and later the bottles themselves.  This proved a great success in changing the face of the perfume business forever. 

The most exquisite period of perfume bottle design was the 1920s and 1930s. At that time there were 400 manufactures of glass perfume bottles in France. Today there are only three.  The early bottles had hand made stoppers which were hand-ground into the bottle. Each fit was unique, so numbers were engraved on stopper and bottle in order that they could be matched up after filling. This was a very costly process until about the 1970s when plastic stoppers were introduced. This is a viable way to date a bottle. 

Perfume bottles are an excellent choice for those looking to begin a collection. Their style, age, rarity and condition play an important part. They are small to house and are a great choice for any budget.  

Here is a hand picked selection of perfume bottles from Grays’ dealers:

Cour-joie by Nina Ricci, 1946. Glass bottle designed by Rene Lalique.
Offered by Linda Bee

Rare perfume bottle by Schiaparelli. Offered by Linda Bee 
Mitsouko by Guerlain.The bottle reflects oriental influences.
Offered by Linda Bee

Miss Balmain Paris. A miniature perfume bottle. Offered by Gillian Horsup

Red bakelite vintage  perfume container. Offered by Gillian Horsup

Art Deco celluloid perfume container. Offered by Gillian Horsup

Silver overlay glass perfume bottle, USA c.1900. Offered by Evonne Antiques

Pair of glass perfume bottles with silver tops, Birmingham 1897.
Offered by Evonne Antiques

Webb glass perfume bottle silver mounted, London 1889.
Offered by Jack Podlewski

Silver mounted perfume bottle by William Comyns, London 1894.
Offered by Jack Podlewski
Porcelain hand painted egg scent bottle by Sampson Mordan, London 1887.
Offered by AMS Antiques

Silver and pink enamel atomiser with cut crystal bottle, USA c.1920.
Offered by AMS Antiques

Green glass perfume bottle silver mounted by Edward Spencer for The Artificers' Guild, London c.1900. Offered by Van Den Bosch

Silver perfume bottle with enamel lid by Omar Ramsden & Alwyn Carr, 1905.
Offered by Van Den Bosch

2 July 2015

Masterpiece London

Masterpiece London is the leading annual international cross-collecting fair for art, antiques and design; showcasing works that span over 3,000 years of art history, from antiquity to the present day. This year the fair ran from 25th June to 1st July at its usual home; The Royal Hospital, Chelsea. The glitterati and lovers of all things refined descended on the fair to find highly covetable items, such as a rare Andy Warhol or vintage Van Cleef & Arpels to add to their collection. 

If you didn't make it to this year's Masterpiece London, do not fret. Grays has a sublime mélange of aesthetically pleasing objects you will find all year round. Here's a delightful selection of our dealers' stock:

Pair of Kuba Chairs, offered by Kamba Gallery
Amedeo Gennarelli (1891-1966), Italian school terracotta bust, offered by Patrick Boyd-Carpenter
150 gram French rank bracelet, circa 1940s, offered by Anthea AG Antiques

Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) Rock Study II, offered by Horton London
Cartier tiger eye ring offered by MOIRA
Mexican casket c1660-80, wood, mother of pearl and tortoise shell with silver mounts, offered by P & R Szuhay
South Arabian Bronze 3rd Century BC, offered by Antique Choices

Painting by Charles Sekano, Woman With Hat, offered by Kamba Gallery

26 June 2015

Vintage Summer Style

With summer already here and hot weather on the way, it's time to get your summer style sorted! Grays Mews has a fantastic range of vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories for you to mix and match to your style. Here are some items we think will work the summer look perfectly:

Selection of multicoloured bangles and flower inspired necklaces from Gillian Horsup
Turquoise-themed jewellery from Unicorn

Green-themed jewellery from Ting Jewellery Box

Selection of bracelets from Arabella Bianco

1980s glass earrings from Arabella Bianco

Bakelite banana necklace from Linda Bee

Blue-themed jewellery set from Ting Jewellery Box

Vintage sunglasses from Gillian Horsup
1980s sunglasses from Linda Bee
Art Deco beaded bag from Arabella Bianco

Silk kimono from Leonora Boutique and summer hat  from June Victor

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