Another Calhoun Jewelers
tradition is the buying and selling of fine estate jewelry. Cathy
Calhoun was one of the first jewelers in the country to specialize in
this area. Today, more than ever, there is an increasing demand for
estate and antique jewelry. We constantly search for new and
interesting pieces to add to our ever-changing collection, and we
often purchase items that our customers no longer wear.
ABOUT ESTATE JEWELRY
Estate jewelry is
jewelry that has been previously owned. It may be two months or two
hundred years old. It may come from individuals, estate settlements,
auctions, antique dealers or banks, just to name a few sources.
Although there is some disagreement as to whether current law
requires that antique jewelry be at least 100 years old, this is the
generally accepted criterion for determining what constitutes
antique. Period jewelry refers to the historical periods
in which the jewelry was produced (e.g. Victorian). Most jewelry
discussed today dates from the mid-19th Century.
The valuation of estate
jewelry can be extremely complicated compared to that of modern
pieces due to such factors as age, condition, materials, designers,
hallmarks, signatures, and provenancethe value of an item
increases substantially if it is signed Cartier or
Tiffany, or if it was owned by a Hollywood celebrity or a
royal prince. Whether a piece of jewelry is in original condition,
not restored or otherwise modified, is important in establishing
value as is whether a piece is accompanied by its original box and
bill of sale.
Older jewelry pieces are
especially esteemed for their unique character and detailed
workmanship. Because the costs of labor and materials have risen so
substantially over the last 100 years, many of these labor-intensive
detailed designs are no longer cost-effective to produce, making
estate jewelry a particularly good buy.
The Mid and Late
Victorian Period: 1850-1890
By the reign of Queen
Victoria, the Industrial Revolution had created a growing merchant
class eager to flaunt its new-found wealth. England and France became
major jewelry centers, taking advantage of the new technology to mine
precious metals and mass-produce precious gemstone jewelry.
The mid and late Victorian
Period was influenced by the romantic image of Queen Victoria and
Prince Albert, her beloved consort. Seed pearls, shell cameos,
strands of pearls, and small colored gemstones were fashionable.
After Prince Alberts death in 1861, jewelry styles changed
almost overnight as Victoria adopted somber jewelry to express her
grief. Jet, black onyx, tortoise shell, and horse hair, often set
into heavy goldwork, were materials typical of this period.
The Edwardian Period: 1901-1915
Queen Victoria was
succeeded by her son, Edward VII. The Edwardian Period celebrated the
joyous return to elegance that marked the reign of the new King.
Jewelry complemented the lace, silk, and feathers worn by Edwardian
ladies. Diamonds were in profusion, either alone or with colored
gems, and pearls were very popular. The use of platinum facilitated
delicate filigree work fashioned to resemble fine lace. Pieces with
hinged, moving parts were also popular.
The Art Nouveau Period: 1890-1915
By the end of the 19th
Century, Victorian popularity was fading. The Art Nouveau
period-romantic and lighthearted- burst upon Europe and America as a
reaction to both the staid Victorian era and the mass-produced,
imitative pieces resulting from the Industrial Revolution. This
reaction was apparent in all the decorative arts of the period.
The genius of the French
master jewelry Rene Lalique helped to define this period (the
same Lalique who later became famous for his glass works). His slim,
ethereal figures were of brilliant enamels with precious gems, horn,
ivory, and glass. Dragon files, with long delicate wings, and
stylized floral themes, utilizing opals and moonstones, were popular.
Another figure who strongly influenced the Art Nouveau period was the
American jewelry Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the Tiffanys
founder Charles Tiffany.
The Art Deco Period: 1920-1935
The Art Deco period
originated in France at a time when women- who had been doing
mens jobs while the men went off to war- began to express their
new found freedom. They smoked and drank in public, shortened their
skirts, and welcomed the flamboyant, geometric styles of Art Deco.
This was a brasher, more sophisticated time. The jewelry of this
period, bold geometric pieces in enamel and colored gems, enhanced
the angular look in clothing. Massive ruby and emerald brooches were
typical, as were coral and lapis lazuli or jade used in combination.
Platinum settings of exquisite workmanship are a hallmark of Deco.
The Retro Period: 1935-1949
With the beginning of war
in Europe, luxury production halted as platinum, and most gold and
silver, were requisitioned for the war effort. It was during this
period that American jewelry came into its own. The glamour of
Hollywood and its stars influenced the flamboyant pieces of Retro.
Huge gems in oversized pieces, often mounted in rose, green, or
yellow gold alloys, were typical. After Americas entry into the
war, the jewelry produced became less romantic but still oversized.
It was also during this
period that gold began to be used as the sole element in jewelry.
Gold had previously been used in mountings to accent other elements
of a jewelry piece. Now gold jewelry came into its own. Many of the
gold brooches seen today, such as circle pins and animal pins, owe
their origins to the trends of the late 1940s and 1950s.