29 March 2018

Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography - Exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery


The National Portrait Gallery is currently showing, 'Victorian Giants: 'The Birth of Art Photography’,  until 20th May, 2018. This major exhibition is the first to examine the relationship between four ground-breaking Victorian artists: Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79) Lewis Carroll (1832-98) Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822-65) and Oscar Rejlander (1813-875).
Drawn from public and private collections internationally, the exhibition features some of the most outstanding images in photographic history. Influenced by historical paintings and more commonly associated with the Pre-Raphaelite era, the four formed a bridge between the art of the past and the art of the future. They revolutionised the use of photography, hence why they are referred to as ‘The Victorian Giants’.   
Showing women as they really were … Clementina Maude by Clementina Hawarden, 1863-4. Photograph: © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Image courtesy of The Guardian


Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, 1857, by Lewis Carroll Photograph: Lewis Carroll/National Portrait/PA. Image courtesy of The Guardian

 Photographic Study (Clementina and Isabella Grace Maude), 1863-64, by Clementina Hawarden
Unidentified Young Woman, 1863-9, by Oscar Rejlander

If you're feeling inspired by the past, and would like to capture elements of the exhibition, then why not come and visit us here at Grays, where you can see our gorgeous selection of pieces waiting to be discovered...



Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame with a photo of unidentified woman. Available at Tings Jewellery Box



Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame, both photographs source unknown. Available at Tings Jewellery Box
Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame with a photo of unidentified woman. Available at Tings Jewellery Box


Birmingham 1918, Photo Frame. Available at Jack Podlewski

Victorian Thumbnail Size Photo Album of Hastings. Available at Tings Jewellery Box


Solid Sterling 925 Silver, Birmingham, 1904. Available at AMS Antiques Ltd
Victorian Thumbnail Size Photo Album. Available at Tings Jewellery Box
Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame, with an unidentified photo of a child. Available at Tings Jewellery Box



Birmingham, 1901 Silver Photo Frame. The inscription on the bottom of the frame says, 'A Portrait by J.Cecil Gould Weybridge'. Available at  Jack Podlewski

22 March 2018

Swing into Spring

On March 21, the sun crossed over the equator signifying the March Equinox; the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The days are gettting longer and brighter, temperatures are starting to rise, flowers are blossoming, plants are flourishing in time for summer - it's a season of renewal and change!  It's not surprising this time of year is the period when we feel most positive. 

The origin of the term "spring cleaning" varies, some say it dates back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime festival of Passover. Some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of "khooneh tekouni," which literally means "shaking the house," just before the Persian new year.

Spring symbolism is abundant at Grays. Here are a few delightful items that will put a 'spring' in your step!


A fine and early group modelled by J.J. Kaendler, depicting the goddess Leda seated beside a swan and garlanding flowers around its neck, c1745. Available from Serhat Ahmet Antiques.

Chinese famille verte mustard pot and cover, Kangxi (1662-1722). Available from Anita Gray


Vintage cloisonné brooch, available from Arabella Bianco


Butterfly brooch with turquoise, available from Alice Gulessarian


Diamond drop earrings, available from Westleigh Antiques


Enamel compact with birds on a blossom tree scene, available from Raysil Antiques



Pear shaped pendant set with mint quartz surrounded by floral like multicoloured tourmalines, set in 18ct rose gold. By Isabel Langloise, Paris. Available from Horton London
Russian silver gild and enamel salt dish, c1890 by Vasiliy Agafonov. Available from Tabunov Antiques


15 March 2018

St Patrick's Day: A Celebration of the Symbols of Ireland at Grays

 St Patrick's Day, which falls on 17 March each year, is the annual celebration of Ireland's patron saint and the date which marks his death. St Patrick travelled to Ireland in the fifth century to convert the largely pagan country to Christianity. It is said that the use of the shamrock as the country's symbol is largely thanks to him, since he is purported to have used the three-leaved clover to describe the Holy Trinity to non-believers.

Here in London, each year a whole schedule of festivities is planned and runs for the entire weekend: over 125,000 people are expected for this year's festival, which starts Friday 16 and runs until Sunday 18 March.

At Grays, we've put together an Irish - and Irish inspired - jewellery edit. Could one of these beauties be your lucky charm?:
Early 20th century box made from Irish bog oak & carved with shamrocks and a depiction of Blarney Castle. Available from Alison Massey
Claddagh ring made in Dublin 1928. The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. Available from The Antique Jewellery Company

1960s Silver Shamrock Heart Locket Pendant. Available from Tings Jewellery Box


Silver Harp Brooch: National Emblem of Ireland, and Guinness! 1960s. Available from Tings Jewellery Box



1950s Vintage Costume Brooch. Available from Tings Jewellery Box

Shamrock Brooch, Sapphire and Diamonds. Available from Miwa Fine Jewellery

Silver Blarney Stone Ring, Irish Shamrock Design. Inscription: Genuine stone from grounds of Blarney Castle, Ireland. Available from Arabella Bianco

8 March 2018

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Still hunting for a special Mother's Day gift? We're here to help..

Two vintage costume brooches, Available at Gillian Horsup



There are just two full shopping days left before Mother’s Day , which this year falls on Sunday 11th March.

Like many festivities, Mothering Sunday began with a religious purpose.

Always held exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday, it was a originally a day to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, or ‘Mother Mary’.

Whilst the tradition evolved throughout the centuries as a general day of thanks and gratitude towards families and mothers, it did not hold a prominent a place on the UK calendar until the after the First World War.

During the war Americans and Canadians began to celebrate Mother's Day, as a way to give thanks to their mothers whilst away at war and send their thoughts back home from the trenches.

This idea was picked up by soldiers from the United Kingdom and across Europe, and the day has been widely celebrated here ever since!


If it's something unique you are looking for this year, check out our handpicked items all available now from the wonderfully eclectic dealers at Grays:


Chinese Armorial Teapot, Qianlong period. Available at Anita Gray

French Silver Plated Fruit Bowl, c1900. Available at AMS Antiques

A pair of Chinese 19th Century Teapots. Available at Parsia Antiques and Calligraphy

Chinese 19th Century Enamel Trinket Box, available at Parsia Antiques and Calligraphy

18ct Gold Ladies Chopard Timepiece, c1980. Available at World Time

Mughal Pendant Encrusted with Dimaonds, Rubies and Emeralds. c1850 Available at IQ Antiques

1 March 2018

Birthstone of March: Aquamarine

March is here! And with March the beautiful blue stone aquamarine, comes to the fore. Aquamarine is found in a myriad of blue hues: the name comes from the Latin term 'aquamarina' meaning 'water of the sea.' Like seawater, aquamarine can be pale to light-blue, dark-blue, blue-green and green-blue. The more saturated the colour, the higher the value, although almost all aquamarine is typically a lighter blue tone.

At Grays, we discovered lots of stunning pieces adorned with this March birthstone. Here are some of our favourite picks..

Art Deco Santa Maria aquamarine brooch/pendant, available from Miwa Fine Jewellery
Edwardian bar brooch, available from Miwa Fine Jewellery
Vintage aquamarine ring, available from Westleigh Antiques
Contemporary semi hoop 18ct earrings, emerald cut aquamarine, available from Michelle Payne 
18 carat gold mounted aquamarine and diamond stone set ring, c1960,
available from Shapiro & Co 

Aquamarine and diamond bracelet, available from Westleigh Antiques



Aquamarine & diamond pendant, Edwardian, available from Emmy Abe




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