25 April 2013

Pearls - The Queen of Gems

For centuries pearls have been appreciated for their lustre, beauty and rarity.   Throughout history pearls have been revered in cultures around the world from India and China to the Middle East and Egypt.  The world's oldest natural pearl was discovered quite recently in a grave in Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates. The pearl dates back to the Neolithic Period around 5500BC, making it 7500 years old!


Indian necklace with diamonds and seed pearls. Offered by Michael G Longmore.
Natural pearls, found in oysters are form naturally when an irritant such as bacteria or grit enters the pearl.  The oyster or mollusk covers the irritant in layers of nacre, the same material used to form its shell.  These naturally forming pearls are extremely rare and before the development of cultured pearls in the early 1900s, natural pearls were considered the most prized gemstone, so valuable they were only available to nobility or the very wealthy.
  
A piece of clothing used by Kuwaiti divers searching for pearls. On display in the Maritime Museum in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
 
Belle Epoque Mississippi freshwater pearl & diamond pendant. Offered by Jan Havlik.

Cultured pearls transformed the pearl market in the early 20th century.  Cultured pearls are pearls that have been produced with human intervention. Oysters can be encouraged to produce pearls by inserting a tiny foreign object into the oysters body which speeds up the natural process.  

Natural pearl and diamond ring c1920s. Offered by Saul Greenstein.

Kokichi Mikimoto in Japan was one of the first people to recognise and develop a method for creating cultured pearls. In 1916 he was granted a patent for producing round pearls and over the years he revolutionised pearling to eventually make pearls accessible and affordable to the mass market. Cultured pearls are still made using the natural process and therefore can be just as high quality as fully natural pearls.

Rare pair of South Sea pearl earrings with the same shape but differing in colour. £3500. Offered by The Gilded Lily.

The shape of the pearl is one factor that helps in determining it's value and quality. As pearls are naturally occurring they come in a diverse range of colours and shapes.  The longer the pearl is left within the oyster the more chance there is of it developing an irregular shape. 

1940s South Sea pearl and diamond earrings. Offered by Pushkin Antiques.

Round - Perfectly round pearls are incredibly rare and most desirable due to their regular shape. This combination makes them the most valuable.

Near-round- Almost perfectly round but with a slightly oval or of a flattened shape.

Button - Button pearls are generally round on one side and flatter on the other. Button pearls are often used to make earrings.

Baroque - Baroque pearls are irregular in shape and not symmetrical.

Cultured Tahitian baroque pearl necklace. Offered by The Pearl Gallery.

Pearls can vary in shape and colour depending on where they are produced.  The climate and conditions as well as they type of oyster or mollusk they are made in all play are part in the pearls final aesthetic.   For example Tahitian pearls are famous for their black colour and South Sea pearls are the same colour as their host the Pinctada maxima pearl oyster and can be white, silver, pink, gold or cream in colour.

Diamond and pearl drop earrings, c1910. Offered by John Joseph.

Here at Grays our jewellery dealers stock a wide range of pearls from different periods from Victorian seed pearls, cultured and natural pearls to baroque and vintage faux pearls. With such variety you are sure to find a special piece of pearl jewellery to suit your taste and budget.


Edwardian diamond & natural pearl cluster ring. £1500. Offered by The Antique Jewellery Company.

19 April 2013

Spring Accessories

As the first signs of spring arrive, it's the perfect time to update your wardrobe with some stylish accessories. Here at Grays you can express your personal style with chic jewellery, bags, sunglasses, hats, and much more! All unique to make you stand out from the crowd. Take your pick:

Add a splash of colour to your day with this stunning Prada handbag offered by Linda Bee


Add some elegance with this cloche hat from Vintage Modes


Feel like a star with this unique Victorian pendant/brooch from Aurum


Transform your outfit with this amazing Art Deco Neclace from Gillian Horsup


Add something special with these deep blue earrings from Charlotte Sayers

Happy Spring Shopping from everyone at Grays!

12 April 2013

Elements of Love

As the second ever dedicated men's fashion week in London ended in January we want to continue the theme of men's fashion and add some special notes to the best elements from London for men. In the shows we have seen modern tailoring, and sporty styles flourish, plus a more masculine line and the 'gentleman explorer' make an appearance with the country attire filtered through West London spirit and gender bending to opinion dividing with frills, wet look-hair, and nude skin. Accessorise and distinguish yourself with unique pieces of arts and antiques, objects of superb craftsmanship and exquisite aesthetics, discover them for yourself at Grays in the heart of Mayfair.
18th century agate cameo and gold ring depicting a couple in erotic embrace. 
Bronze pipe tamper, 18th-19th century, English.
  From Jane Stewart

Estruscan/Latium Fibula, 950-850 BC.
Ex Woodman-Higgins Museum Collection.
From Jane Stewart

Estruscan Fibula, 725-675 BC. Decorated with incised geometric designs.
Ex Woodman-Higgins Museum Collection.
From Jane Stewart

Resin Classical Torso, Museum Copy

Victorian Gold Cufflinks and Studs Set in Original Case

 Victorian 18ct Gold & Cornelian Intaglio Signet Ring


Mannerist old master drawing showing Hercules wrestling Anteus. C1620.
 
Old Master Print

4 April 2013

Georg Jensen Silver at Grays

Georg Jensen was a Danish silversmith and best known for his quality craftsmanship and timeless designs. He started his career as a goldsmith at the age of 14. After graduating at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and several apprenticeships, he opened his first workshop in Copenhagen in 1904. As his creations caught the eye of the public his success was assured. Before the end of the 1920s, Jensen opened shops in New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, and Berlin. He died in 1935 but his high standards in quality and design held firm and today Georg Jensen is one of the most successful luxury design brands in the world.

James Baldwin is one of our silver dealers at Grays who offers a wide range of Georg Jensen silver including cutlery and home products. For more information visit: www.jamesbaldwinantiques.com 



This Georg Jensen silver compote was made by Georg Jensen, and designed by Gundorph Albertus. It is a classic design, released in a number of different sizes. It is hand raised and hand hammered, the hammer marks still being in evidence. It bears the post 1945 Jensen mark. 


This set of sterling silver Georg Jensen spoons were made in Copenhagen. They are in the famous Art Deco silver Pyramid Pattern of Georg Jensen, designed by Harald Nilsen in 1926. 


This set of  sterling silver forks are Cypress Pattern, and a fine example of Georg Jensen cutlery. 
The Cypress Pattern was designed by Tias Ekhorf in 1954, and like most Georg Jensen flatware a classic design of its time.


This unusual sterling silver Art Deco dish was made by Georg Jensen in Copenhagen 1925. It is of excellent quality, heavy and beautifully made. It has a full set of Danish hallmarks, Georg Jensen marks and also English Import marks for 1925. 


These beautiful sterling silver tea spoons were made by Georg Jensen silver, and are in the Lily of the Valley pattern. They are boxed, although the box is not the original. Each tea spoon is marked.

Read more about Georg Jensen:


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