23 April 2015

Georgian Jewellery

The Georgian period, 1714-1837, was defined by the four Georges from the Hanoverian Monarchs of the United Kingdom. This period of time, being most of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, was a time of rapid and intense societal change, where eccentric and fascinating individuals and events began transforming the world.

As a result of the change in society, luxuries such as jewellery were no longer just owned by aristocracy and was now becoming more widely available for members of the middle class. With a change in their attitude to life and the extreme dedication to look stunning for social events meant that a great and competitive demand for jewellery was created, but even with the huge amounts of change in fashion between now and then, many cherished examples we have today are still timeless.

In the Georgian era however, certain styles of jewellery were designated to a certain time of the day. During the day, women would wear a necklace or a pocket watch on a chain with a cameo pin and very small coloured natural stone rings that matched their bracelets and earrings not forgetting the most important piece; the Chatelaine. This was a piece of jewellery that would be hung from a belt with chains covered in all kinds of coloured stones such as garnet, emerald and ruby. Middle class women took a shine to deep sea treasures, wanting coral and pearls matched with ivory and turquoise.

The gentleman's equivalent was a superb set of status advertising shoe buckles and buttons, which were studded with diamonds and gemstones.

An example of Georgian jewellery from Spectrum at Grays Antiques

The evening was a completely separate story however, with rose cut and mine cut diamonds stealing the show. The most popular way to showcase these delights were in a diamond riviere, or a "river of light" delicately set into a line of silver which was shined until it glimmered almost as much as the diamonds.

Another staple item was Girandole earrings. These beautiful creations were designed with a bow motif at the clasp, which would hold below it another stunning shape, which had a drop that lined pearls or stones to a chosen length. The evolution of earring style changed here, as the clip-on earring was invented so that women with un-pierced ears could enjoy the delicate pieces.

Sylvie at Spectrum has two stunning sets of Georgian natural pearl tassle/bell drop earrings on gold wires. These items can be found at Grays Antiques, or you can contact Sylvie at 020 7629 3501 or sylviespectrum@hotmail.com.

16 April 2015

Dolls' House Study Day

Dolls' house enthusiasts are in for a special treat this weekend. The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green is holding an exciting event: Dolls’ House Study Day on Saturday 18th April. It promises a day of reminiscing about our childhood, filled with talks from expert speakers and a series of hands on workshops. If you can’t make it this Saturday though, there is still time to visit their exhibition: Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House, presenting stories of 12 dolls’ houses from the past 300 years, until 6th September 2015.

Inside the kitchen of a doll’s house made by Dr Killer from Manchester,
1835-38, on show at the V&A Museum of Childhood.

While in town, pop over to Grays for some more dolls’ delight. Grays dealers are well respected experts in the field and you will be well impressed by their large collection of antique dolls.  Here is s quick selection of what’s on offer:

Pretty Jumeau doll 25”, dates around 1900. Offered by Glenda Antique Dolls
Lovely Jumeau doll 18”, dates around 1907. Offered by Glenda Antique Dolls
Victorian Jumeau portrait fashion doll 19''. Offered by Sarah Sellers
19th Century papier-mâché doll with Apollo hairstyle. Offered by Marlis Tabizel

10 April 2015

Antiques for Everyone

Celebrating its 30th year in 2015, Antiques for Everyone started on 9 April and will run until 12 April. Held at the magnificent NEC in Birmingham, you can rest assured there will be a vast range of items on offer comprising antiques, interiors and collectables. All items are vetted for quality, date and condition.

This event is the perfect place to source treasured items from well established antique traders, some of whom are our very own Grays dealers - Diem, Saul Greenstein, Second Time Around and Shapiro & Co.

It's rather apt that Cherish an Antique day was also on 9 April. Items from a bygone era hold so much history, yet have timeless appeal and were built to last, we think a day in homage to antiques is well deserved. Do you have a special antique that holds significant importance to you? The following items are offered by the Grays dealers trading at the Antiques for Everyone event. Could one of these items be your future 'Cherish an Antique' and heirloom for generations to come?

Art deco, French, 18ct gold and platinum diamond pendant.
Approximately 3 carats of diamonds. c1920, offered by Saul Greenstein

Jemima Puddle-Duck brooch set in 18ct gold. London 1962, offered by Shapiro & Co

Sapphire & diamond ring, c1940s, offered by Diem

2 April 2015

Easter Eggs and Witches

This Sunday marks Easter Sunday, which is celebrated by various cultures around the world. The most common tradition of egg-giving is a tradition that arrived in the U.S. in the 18th century. Originating from Protestant Germans in the Pennsylvania Dutch area who told their children of the "Osterhase" from Northwest European folklore, which then developed into the "Easter Bunny". According to the legend, only good children received gifts of eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.

In the late 19th century Germans brought the tradition of the Easter Hare to Sweden. Due to a mistranslation of the Swedish word for the Easter Hare, Påskharen, sounding very similar to Påskkarlen, meaning the Easter Man, led to the Swedish legend of the Easter Wizard, who brings eggs to children for Easter. The result of this is that Swedish children still dress up today as witches and wizards for Easter.

According to Swedish folklore, the witches travelled on their broomsticks to Blåkulla where they would celebrate witches’ sabbath. This resulted in locals hiding their broomsticks In order to prevent usage by witches, and shooting guns into the air to try and scare them away. This developed into the modern tradition of letting off Easter firecrackers. Easter witches are now more commonly seen in the form of children dressed up as ”påskkärringar” (witch-like creatures) hunting for candy. 

A selection of original pendants By Carl Faberge, offered by  Michelle Jewellery

Limited edition Limoge silver Faberge egg box, offered by Mayfair Antiques

Van Cleef & Arpels 18c. gold coral duck dress clip, offered by Anthea AG Antiques Ltd

Vintage Daffodil plastic earings, offered by Unicorn

Vintage rabbit plastic brooch, offered by Unicorn

Royal Copenhagen porcelain easter egg, offered by Mayfair Antiques

Grays Easter Opening Hours:

 Good Friday 3rd April - CLOSED
Easter Saturday 4th April - 11am - 5pm
Easter Sunday 5th April - CLOSED
Easter Monday 6th April - CLOSED

30 March 2015

Dior and I

The Grays team were very excited about the much anticipated release of new film 'Dior and I,' a documentary about creative director Raf Simons’ first collection for the iconic fashion house. Directed by Frédéric Tcheng, it gives the viewer a rare behind the scenes glimpse into the day-to-day running of the Christian Dior brand.

Tcheng's passion is the exclusive world of big fashion houses; his past documentaries include, 'Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel' and 'Valentino: The Last Emperor'. It is clear that the filmmaker's process focuses on the toil and creativity that goes into producing the brand's designs and portraying a sense of fashion as a collaborative art form. 

Dior and I official trailer

We are lucky enough at Grays to have dealers who stock vintage Dior pieces, such as June Victor of Vintage Modes and sister centre Alfies Antique Market, and costume jewellery specialist Linda Bee

Here is a selection of what we have on offer:

1970s Christian Dior necklace, from Linda Bee.
Navy blue Diorling jacket, from June Victor.
1970s Silk Chiffon Christian Dior two-piece, from June Victor.

8 carat gold ring by Christian Dior. From M Ventura-Pauly .

Brown 1950s Christian Dior dress, from June Victor.

20 March 2015

First Day of Spring

On the day of the equinox, the Sun's centre spends a roughly equal amount of time below and above the horizon in every location on the Earth, making night and day almost the same length. At the poles, the rate of change for the length of daylight and night-time is also greatest, being the start of the transition from 24 hours of night-time to 24 hours of daylight.

This year there is a total eclipse of the Sun on the day of the equinox, this is a rare event that does not occur again until 2034. An equinox is a phenomenon that can occur on any planet, most notably on Saturn, placing its ring system facing toward the Sun. This produces a visible thin line that can be seen from Earth. The most recent exact equinox for Saturn was on 11 August 2009 occurring again on 30 April 2024.

It was due to the equinox that in 1610, Galileo became the first person to observe the rings of Saturn. They looked to him like two enormous satellites nearly touching the main body. Two years later he noticed the so-called satellites had disappeared but subsequently materialised. He wrote, "I do not know what to say in a case so surprising, so unlooked for and so novel."

In addition, on March 20 we have a second celestial event with a Supermoon in our sky turning into a "New Moon". To celebrate the start of spring and all the life and fruit that comes with it, we have selected a range of fresh and fruity pieces to bring in the new season.

Vintage plastic cherry brooch avaliable from Linda Bee

1950s murano glass necklace avaliable from Linda Bee

Strawberry brooch avaliable from Tings Jewellery Box

1930s grape hat with bow avaliable from Unicorn
1940s grape bangle avaliable from Unicorn

1960s lemon necklace avaliable from Unicorn

14 March 2015

Cocktail Rings

Big, bold and bling! These are the essential qualities of a cocktail ring. It is certainly a ring that demands attention and allows its wearer to make a bold statement.

Its fascinating history goes back to the 1920s; the start of the Art Deco period synonymous with exuberant style and dazzling jewellery. It was a time of Prohibition in America, where illegal cocktail parties became the norm among the wealthy. More fashion freedom for women, cocktails and cigarettes, as well as dancing 'til dawn at illegal parties were all part of women’s emancipation at the time. “Dare to wear” was a guiding rule for women, who would wear their grandiose cocktail rings ostentatiously.  A typical ring of the time would display at least a three carat focal stone, surrounded by small diamonds or coloured gemstones. Cocktail rings were usually worn on the right hand ring or index finger and reflected the style and personality of the modern woman.  A symbol of “Girl Power”, a cocktail ring was certainly something to be reckoned with!

Today, cocktail rings continue to be in demand and can be worn to many different occasions. While the earlier rings showcased precious stones, the 1950s saw many cocktail rings made by costume jewellery designers using faux stones and thus becoming more affordable.

Whatever your style or budget, the dealers at Grays have some really eye catching cocktail beauties to chose from:

Emerald cut amethyst & diamond cocktail ring in platinum, c.1925. Offered by Robin Haydock

1940s tourmaline cocktail ring in 18ct gold. Offered by The Pearl Gallery

1940s old cut diamond cocktail ring in 18ct gold. Offered by The Pearl Gallery

1960s lapis lazuli and diamond cocktail ring in 18ct gold. Offered by Anthea

1960s coral onyx & diamond cocktail ring in 18ct gold. Offered by Anthea 
Square ring with large brown faux stone surrounded by white paste stones, c.1960s. Offered by Linda Bee

1980s blue glass stone cocktail ring in gilt metal. Offered by Gillian Horsup

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