Showing posts from July, 2010

The Ruby Red Edwardian Heart Brooch

Let us start as one does with cutlery: at the outside edge. Two tiers of stones - round cut diamonds then rubies - prong set in 9 carat gold with open backs to let light flood in and reveal their breathtaking scintillation, that is, twinkle.

Then of course, the centrepiece: a 45 carat, heartcut ruby. The colour of pigeon's blood, it was mined in the Valley of Rubies, Mogok, two day’s travel from Mandelay…

Is anyone still with me?

Of course, I lie. They're not diamonds. The ‘ruby’ did not come from a legendary valley. There are too few facets for a round cut and no hallmarks for gold. This is costume jewellery, created from paste and, I suspect, pinchbeck.

But it is about 100 years old.

How many times has this been a gift between young lovers? Giddy enough to want to SHOUT their love with a big sparkly heart, but having too few pennies to rub together.

Gazed at in shop windows, saved-up for, hidden in pockets, offered in shaky hands along with declarations and skipped heartbe…

The Spitalfields Silk 18th - 19th Century Dress

It started in the early 1700s with the Huguenots, French Protestants fleeing persecution in Leon and seeking asylum in London’s East End, in Spitalfields.

They brought with them what they could carry and what they could do. And what they could do was powerful enough to name the streets where it happened. Fashion Street, Silk Street, Loom Court and Shuttle Street, places where brocades, lustrings, velvets, satins, paduasoys, mantuas and ducapes were woven to a standard previously unseen outside of France.

And best of all, the silk. Hand woven with a new technique that made it so glossy and so coveted that a dress made from it, this dress, would be continually altered over 100 years to keep that precious fabric in fashion and in sight. 
From its creation in 1770 through to the 1880s, this garment has been stitched, and cut, and taken in, and let out to keep it en vogue. It greets my eyes as a Polonaise Gown with bumptious bustle; its last fandango. Perhaps there was not enough fabric t…