All sorts of creative materials have been used to fashion jewelry: ranging from grass to paper, from leather to fabric, encompassing glass, wood, horn, and even human hair and the skins of animals (elephant hair has been used to make jewelry in Africa and India).
Jewelry from Hair
Jewelry made from hair was once very popular in memorial lockets. It was considered stylish to cut off a lock of hair and insert it in a locket as a gift for a loved one.
Specialized books were published showing women how to create such work in this genre: sheaves of wheat finely embroidered on silk to bring happiness to a young newlywed, rings decorated with neoclassical urns, or lockets for a young mother carrying a lock of hair from each of her children. The creativity behind these items actually followed well -established codes.
Locks of hair from a departed loved one were placed in lockets, and rings were decorated with elegiac motifs set under glass. Hair was finely braided and twisted as works of art in such a way that would not be possible today. During the reign of Queen Victoria, especially after the death of Prince Albert, this "hair-work" style was very popular.
Jewelry made from hair (bracelets, chains, or rings especially) can be very irritating on bare skin.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Rings and lockets with hair glued under the glass should not get wet: water will penetrate the setting, and the hair will slowly disintegrate!
A drop of lacquer will help set and place the shorter wisps on a chain or bracelet.
You can also use a wet mascara brush as a cleaning tool.
Since antiquity, talismans have been made out of wood to protect from the evil eye and from sickness. In the wet, the crucifixion of Christ gave rise to a belief in wood as a source of protection. This is the origin of the expression "knock on wood" that makes reference to the Holy Cross; thousands of its fragments are kept in reliquaries.
The most celebrated talisman is the Talisman of Charlemagne; even the word "talisman" implies a function more secular and propitiatory than religious.
In England, the fashion for Victorian sentimental jewelry produced accessories in oak, the sacred wood of the Celts, often inlaid with silver or steel wire. The more precious woods such as dark ebony, sported snakewood, or sandalwood were often used by jewelers, who were keen to use these resources, enriching them with semiprecious stones or gold and silver studs. In India, rosary beads and bracelets have been shaped for ages from sandalwood, which is often engraved or sculpted. Upon contact with the skin, they exude a sweet odor.
To polish and perfume wooden jewelry, rub with a soft cloth moistened with several drops of sandal-wood oil.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Wood that is crafted into jewelry can become fragile. If it is placed in a dry atmosphere, it can crack. When dropped on a hard surface, it can break or split. To maintain its shiny and satiny polish, clean II with a cloth moistened with oil. Using the old-fashioned method of applying beeswax can be very effective (modern products contain silicones that can ruin some precious woods). Do not wash your hands when you are wearing wooden rings and remember to avoid contact with water; this will certainly lead to flitting and cracks!
Glass and Crystal, Extremely Fragile
The invention of glass took place over many years. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder was sure that it was discovered accidentally by Egyptian sailors who had made a fire on the beach with firewood propped up with blocks of saltpeter buried in the sand. From the effects of the heat, the saltpeter and the sand melted, producing a solid material like stone, which was brilliant and translucent. Thus glass was born. In any case, it is certain that the Egyptians used colored glass extensively to make beads and imitate precious stones. The use of glass beads has spread around the world over the centuries, but as a material, glass has been used sparingly due to its fragility.
RINGS AND BANGLES
Exceptions exit, of course, such as the "ouch" ring, sold in the nineteenth century at the fair of Beaucaire. This was a thin glass ring, decorated with streaks of color and worn sometimes on the knuckle, which young men offered to their fiancées or to the one they had promised themselves to for that day. It was because these rings easily broke from the least amount of shock and could cut the finger that they were given this name.
There are other types of glass jewelry, such as the bands worn in India by the dozen, all the way up the arm to the elbow. As surprising as this may seem, women manage to complete the mail difficult tasks without ever taking them off; in similar fashion, their saris always appear impeccable no matter what tasks they have completed. In the pall, only married women wore these bracelets, and if was said that their color told their husbands of the places they had been. Nowadays glass is rarely used for these bracelets as it has been replaced by plastic, which is lighter and unbreakable.
AN ANCIENT SKILL
In Venice, for centuries, artisans made bracelets, rings, and earrings from blown glass that bear colored inclusions or gold and silver powder.
Crystal glass should not be confused with the crystal mineral. It is, in fact, blown glass, whose name of Italian origin, evokes the transparency of ice. The technique was invented by the Romans. It was later transferred to Asia before ft came back to Venice and spread throughout Europe, especially among cutters in Bohemia and England.
Since the end of the seventeenth century, glassmakers have added lead oxide to make thicker, heavier crystal that can be cut and engraved.
In the seventeenth century, applying stonecutters' methods to cut glass, beautiful diamond imitations were created. These rhinestones were mounted on gold or silver, and the workmanship was superb.
In the nineteenth century, crystal was used to make necklaces of faceted beads, earrings that looked like drops of water fashioned into fruit or floral shapes or even large brooches inspired by the plant world. These were sometimes mounted in the same way as diamond tremblers, with elements that shook with the slightest movement of the wearer.
In the twentieth century, the famous crystal maker Lalique created a crystal ball that was so successful that it is fabricated today and sold all over the world. The house of Baccarat also creates beautiful colored parures with a transparency and fineness that resemble precious stones.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
To prevent knocking or dropping it, glass jewelry should be easy to wear. But you must be very careful with it, storing the jewelry in a silk cloth, for example, and protecting it from any kind of shock.
Although less fragile than glass, crystal does not react well to shocks. Rings in particular break easily when they are exposed to the perils of everyday life.
Bronze, Thousands of Years Old
Included among the ornaments of ancient civilization are the works of the Celts, who originally populated northern Europe.
Their jewels created in gold, silver, and bronze exhibited great creativity. The bronze was an alloy of copper and pewter, to which silver was sometimes added. It was used often since gold was .extremely expensive.
The torque a Stiff-neck ring that was twisted around the neck with the ends Spread apart was a characteristic Celtic ornament. Discovered in France, Celtic sepulchers dating from seventh century BC revealed a necropolis where men and women were buried in ceremonial garb. The women wore their jewels: torques that were sometimes adorned with coral and finely sculpted bracelets, fibulae (fasteners in the form of pins for clothes and veils), and earrings. One of these women was found wearing a Special pendant at the end of a large chainmail necklace, an amulet representing a per-son with legs in the shape of a lyre.
In other parts of the world, such as Africa and India, bronze was used extensively in the making of jewelry for beads, necklaces, and bracelets worn on the writ or ankle.
Neglected in Europe for centuries, bronze was rediscovered by jewelers at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Because bronze contains copper and is fairly sensitive to oxidation, it may become spotted with verdigris.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Easy to live with, bronze is solid and resistant to shocks. Antique bronze jewelry does not need to be kept clean in order to maintain its patina.
Bronze can be cleaned with soap and water, but do not try to make it shiny. If it becomes lackluster, a little bit of lemon juice is sufficient to give it back its shine.