October 24, 2013

"Collet" what you want, but I call it beautiful!

Several months ago, I read about collet necklaces in Katie Jacob's excellent post on the subject.  I was utterly smitten!  The "collet" is actually the setting for the stone and strung together they make for a bold and gorgeous statement piece.  These necklaces were popular in the 18th century, but their charm kept them fashionable well into the 19th century.   They are also known as "Riviere" necklaces, french for River, but this seems to be a term that came about in the later Victorian period.

Here's a particularly gorgeous example from 1830:

1830 Citrine Necklace, Fred Leighton

As was often fashionable, these came in lovely sets of jewelry that were called a "parure."  These would contain a necklace, bracelets, earrings (often multiple sets, depending on how turned out you needed to be) and sometimes even tiaras!   There were also smaller sets called "demi parures" that had a necklace and some other small piece, like earrings or a bracelet.
Georgian Emerald Paste Parure from the Three Graces

Doesn't that just make you weak in the knees?

I was determined to have a parure of my own, but they are hard to come by even if you do have a fortune to spend (which I don't!).  I attempted to have a necklace custom made for me, but that came to nothing.  I actually gave up for a while, but I kept my eye out for extant examples of these magnificent jewels, eventually creating quite a lovely little Pinterest board that I sighed over pretty regularly.

In my search for collet necklaces, I began taking a closer look at other jewelry from the period, particularly earrings.   They are so simple, elegant, and gorgeous!
1790s Amethyst Earrings

Georgian Topaz Earrings

1810 Topaz Earrings

I was also surprised at how wearable all of them are.  I would think nothing of wearing a pair of earrings like this to work or out to dinner!  I wouldn't call them modern, but I would call them timeless. 

I decided I needed some for myself.  While many of the extant examples are actual gemstones, there are plenty that are paste.  Paste jewelry was very common and paste jewels are faceted glass backed with colored foil to simulate gemstones.  That gorgeous emerald parure up there, those are paste!  They are basically rhinestones, except they didn't limit themselves to boring old clear, nosiree!  Those ladies back then LOVED their costume jewelry!

I started searching near and far for vintage rhinestones and paste glass, and actually found a good number.  It isn't cheap (the good stuff never is...) but it is gorgeous.  I'm happy to say I've collected enough to make myself a few shiny baubles with enough left over to sell some of them!  I'm waiting for a sunny day to take pictures, but I hope to have some posted this weekend.

Earrings are pretty easy, since there are lots of pairs of vintage paste stones available, but the larger collet necklaces are somewhat harder.  It isn't easy to find 25-30 matched vintage rhinestones, but I am on the hunt, and I hope to have more necklaces available soon!

EDIT- I've gotten some of my handmade reproduction jewelry listed in my Etsy shop.  Take a look:
18th and 19th Century Reproduction Jewelry

AND...I'm even working with a supplier to have actual amethyst, citrine, peridot and other semi-precious jewelry available soon- and it won't cost a fortune.  Hurrah!

Want more images?  Check out my pinterest board of 18th and 19th century jewelry.

Want to know the minute I have them available for sale?  Check out the Dames a la Mode Facebook page- where I am much better about posting :)

EDIT:  My obsession continues!  So much, in fact, that I have started a new blog:  Georgian Collet Necklaces!

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