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Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

In many traditional cultures, the religious, the mystical, the magical, the royalty wore jewelry that consisted of combinations of amber and jet.     These natural fossils were believed have special qualities and powers, and when used together, even moreso.

Amber is fossilized tree sap.   Amber flowed from pine trees that flourished 50 to 60 million years ago.    Most amber comes from either the Dominican Republic, the Baltic area of Poland and Russia, and China.

Amber is one of the oldest substances used for jewelry.    In ancient times, it was prized as “solid sunlight”, and believed to have many of the sun’s properties.

Image above from Thyme2dreamwww.thyme2dream.com ),  blog: www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection (http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)
Amber comes in a wide range of colors.    The colors often are called food names.   We have cherry amber, custard, butterscotch, butter, caramel, egg-yolk, tomato, honey, cognac, orange, fatty, and cream.   There is also green amber and blue amber, tiger amber, black-and-white amber, blonde and white.

There are some simple tests to determine if your amber is genuine.   One is that you take a hot needle and touch it to the maber.    There should be a faint piney smell.   Another, rubbing amber with a soft cloth will often cause it to give off an electrical spark, and attract a very light object like a feather.   Yet another is a salt flotation test.  Place several tablespoons of salt in a glass of water, and float a piece of amber in it.   Amber floats; glass and plastic sinks.

Jet is the fossilized remains of trees.    It was often called “black amber”.    Jet comes in different softnesses, so some is less durable than others.   Jet from lignite coal is the softest, while that from anthracite coal is the hardest.   Jet became very popular during Victorian times in England for use in mourning jewelry.

Jet is easily confused with glass.  There is only one test.  First,wear safety goggles.    Take a single jet bead and suspend it from a wire, and hold it over a flame with a a pair of pliers.     Genuine jet will smoke and often turn white at the edges, while plastic will melt and glass will simply explode.

Image above from Thyme2dream ( www.thyme2dream.com ),  blog:www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection(http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)

Jet is more likely than glass to display tiny cracks and scratches, or to be irregularly faceted, and to feel lighter and warmer to the touch.    Jet is a generic term in jewelry, so buying “jet” is always something of a risk.   French Jet is glass.  Austrian jet is glass crystal.   Bakelite jet is a plastic.

The “magical union” between amber and jet dates from ancient times.   It probably represented the union between light and dark, yin and yang, female and male — dualities.

The combination of amber and jet is believed, by many magicians and witches, to be the only combination of stones that gives a full spectrum of electrical energies, from positive to negative.

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The Silver Jewelry of Oman

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

The Silver Jewelry of Oman


Oman has a very rich and distinctive jewelry tradition. Due to the nation’s long history of seafaring and trade, many influences of other cultures can be seen in Omani jewelry. Oman in particular traded with India and the Golden Triangle: trading partners whose influence is still visible in Omani jewelry today. Many Omani anklets and bracelets are reminiscent of Indian jewelry. A specific type of Omani necklace clearly derives from the jewelry of the Hmong tribes in the Golden Triangle.

 

The jewelry is characteristic of traditional, nomadic societies, but with special touches, techniques and motifs, with all the influences from the outside world.

The use of coins or ‘umla’ is widespread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Issued by an official mint long before the introduction of silver hallmarks, coins were an indication of an established and guaranteed silver content.   Two coins that both possess a high silver content and are of consistently good quality, proved to be of major importance in the nomadic societies of the Middle East, and indeed in the economical landscape of the entire world. They are the Spanish columnario or pillar dollar, and the Austrian Maria Theresia Thaler.

Originally, Bedouin and traditional jewelry did not carry hallmarks; the region’s jewelry tradition predates their use, as well as modern state boundaries. As each piece of jewelry was individually ordered from a silversmith, the amount of silver to be used was carefully discussed, weighed and paid for. To establish the correct amount of silver, the material was balanced against a known amount of silver, for example a set of coins such as the Maria Theresia Thaler.

At around the beginning of the twentieth century, most countries adopted an official hallmarking system. For a very long time, existing pieces of jewelry were marked only when they were sold; their exact value only needed to be established at the moment of sale. To illustrate its value, an item of jewelry usually displayed its silver stamp on the outside, where it would be most visible.

One of jewelry’s most important functions is to reveal the status of the wearer. If a husband gives jewelry to his wife it shows respect. Jewelry can also indicate social status, or the religious group to which the wearer belongs.

 

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Another Collectible Vintage Jewelry Artist

Posted by learntobead on September 22, 2010

Theodor Fahrner
Another Collectible Vintage Jewelry Artist

Fahrner created sterling with gemstone, crystal, or rhinestones, pieces of jewelry in the 1910’s and 1920’s in Germany.    His style varied a bit from avante garde-art nouveau-art deco to more traditional styles.

Fahrner is an example of a big enterprise jeweler.    He patented several processes for mechanically or partially-mechanically reproducing jewelry.    While he designed jewelry himself, he also worked with jewelry artists all over Germany, and reproduced their designs under the Fahrner label.

His jewelry is associated with high quality workmanship.   He tended to avoid flowery and lacey forms within his pieces, because these would be difficult to mass produce.

Fahrner died in 1919, but his “label” continued until 1945.

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Jelly Bellies

Posted by learntobead on September 22, 2010

Jelly Bellies – Vintage Jewelry

Lots of people collect vintage jewelry today.    One of the most collectible vintage piece is known as a Jelly Belly.

Jelly Bellies are an animal made out of sterling or vermeil, with a carved piece of lucite for its belly.    It is rumoured that the lucite came from old airplane windshields.

A lucite belly is more valuable than a glass belly.   A clear lucite is better than a colored belly.

You can usually find these at next to nothing.   They resell for hundreds of dollars.

The first jelly bellies made have been made as early as 1938.  Most were made between 1943 and 1945, and set in sterling or vermeil.  Sterling was rationed and very expensive during these war years, so adding a piece of Lucite to the design made it possible to produce large, eye-catching designs. After the war and into the 1950’s they were made in base metals, but all of them are delightful!

Many costume jewelry manufacturers used the Jelly Bellies which means some are marked and some are not, but most famous are the Trifari and Corocraft sterling designs, which incorporated fantastic design with breathtaking quality of materials and craftsmanship.

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