Isadoras antique jewelry

Monthly Archives: April 2015

  • Earth Month: What is Dirty Gold & Why Should It Be Avoided?

    The issue of "Dirty Gold" has not gotten as much media attention as I think it deserves, and so I thought I would take a moment during this year's Earth Month to discuss the environmental costs of current gold mining practices.

    Eco-Friendly Gold #EcoFriendlyJewelry

    Mining for gold has never been a clean business, but the grime used to come primarily from dirt, as people used pickaxe, shovel and sifter to cull precious metal from the earth. Today it is a far more toxic endeavor.

    Today's dirty gold is produced by blasting the ground, and digging up enormous tons of ore, creating large open-pit mines. The gold is culled in a process called "cyanide heap leaching", leaving behind not only beautiful gold but also tons of contaminated rock as well as toxic mine waste or "tailings". These tailings contain dozens of hazardous materials including arsenic, lead, mercury and cyanide. If not properly taken care of, they work their way into the air, earth and water.

    The EPA stated hard rock mining generates more toxic waste than any other industry in the United States. Which is why the "No Dirty Gold" campaign says the only way to buy "clean" gold is to opt for vintage or recycled jewelry.

    This is why we continue to promote that which we have promoted for the last forty-two years--buying vintage. By opting for vintage or antique jewelry one side steps the new gold industry.

    For more information on gold and environmentalism, please visit Earthwork's No Dirty Gold Campaign.

     "No Dirty Gold." EARTHWORKS' Web. 8Apr. 20.15. <>.
  • May Flowers: Do You Speak Flower?

    Flowers, as a whole, are one of the most common motifs in jewelry adornment.  It is natural that humans want to preserve nature's ephemeral beauty in more lasting materials.  But flowers for many cultures, including and perhaps especially Victorian Britain, were much more than just pretty decoration.  Perhaps you have heard of the Language of the Fan, by which demur young ladies could signal would-be suitors of their modest desires, or their displeasure for that matter!, by an ever-so-subtle flourish of their fan.  An equally important dialect of the Victorian woman is the Language of the Flower.  Here we will explore pieces from Isadora's European collection with the ear of a translator.  What were those repoussé wind blown poppies really saying?  Let's find out.

    French Victorian Diamond Flower Ring Circa 1890. This beautiful French Victorian ring is shaped like a flower. The ring sparkles with Old European cut diamonds. It is silver topped gold. It has a French punch mark.

    Far and away the most common flower motif is the rose.  She is, afterall, queen of the garden.  The rose, in general and not surprisingly, represents Love.  But the language of flowers is thorough.

    Guilloche Enamel Art Deco Necklace This is a fun Sterling Silver Art Deco necklace with an enamel floral design.

    For example, the pink roses in this Art Deco guilloche enamel necklace (left) speak of perfect happiness, secret love, grace and sweetness.  While the white roses in this mid-Victorian antique cut diamond ring (above) say innocence, purity, humility, and the sentiment "I am Worthy of You."

    Sweet Edwardian Yellow Diamond Ring Circa 1900. This sweet Edwardian flower shaped ring is centered by a .16 carat fancy yellow Old European cut diamond with a VS1 clarity. Five Old European cut diamonds create the petals to this delicate diamond flower. They have a .72 carat diamond weight, SI2-I1 clarity and I-J color. The handmade ring has a platinum topped 18KT yellow gold mounting.

    Forget-me-not is a flower whose answer is in the question.  This white and yellow diamond forget-me-not ring (right) speaks of memories, but also true love.  A combination which made forget-me-nots the single most popular motif on wedding bands, save for the nearly ubiquitous wheat motif (meaning fidelity).

    Carved Lapis Filigree Drop Earrings Circa 1930. This striking pair of Art Deco earrings are composed of 14KT yellow gold and accented by beautiful carved blue lapis.

    These delightful filigree drop lapis lazuli earrings (above) are carved in a rich chrysanthemum motif, representing abundance, wealth, cheerfulness and the sentiment "You're a wonderful friend."

    Victorian Soufflé Pearl Grapevine Earrings Circa 1900. These lovely Victorian 14KT yellow gold earrings each dangle a beautiful seed pearl cluster in the shape of bunch of grapes from a luminescent baroque pearl.

    Grapevines, grapes and occasionally their delicate flowers are also frequently seen in antique jewelry.  While this symbol has significance in many different cultures, in general, it speaks of fertility, prosperity and salvation.

    Flowering Grapevine Amethyst Slide and Chain Circa 1900. This is a gorgeous 60" silver ladies watch chain with striking silver slide. The slide is centered by a lovely cabochon cut amethyst stone.


    In these Victorian pearl drop earrings (above), the tiny white flowers get their say.  As in this elaborate amethyst slide on an antique watch chain (left).

    This lotus signet ring is a rarity in the jewelified flower world.

    Vintage Yellow Gold Signet Ring This is a striking fine estate 18KT yellow gold signet ring.

    The lotus was not a common flower in Victorian Britain.  There it might have spoken of estranged love or a desire for someone to remember the past.  A stronger association for the lotus, however, comes from ancient Buddhist culture where the lotus, a flower who begins its life deep in the muddy bottom of the pond slowly rises and blooms above the murk to achieve enlightenment.  It is therefore often considered a strong symbol of enlightenment and understanding.

    Finally, what about those wind blown poppies?

    Silver Repoussé Poppy Bangle Circa 1900. This is a beautiful antique Swedish silver hinged bangle bracelet. This Victorian bracelet is decorated with a tangle of exotic poppy flowers.

    High-relief repoussé in heavy silver, we can take the flower meaning of the poppy in general to be Imagination. But if we imagine these poppies red, then we might be speaking of pleasure, white says consolation for a loss, and yellow represents wealth and success.

    As antique jewelers, we often lament that the treasures we come across cannot speak.  If only they could describe the balls they had been to or the long countryside walks on which they gently gleamed in the Victorian sunlight.  While I will always wish I could hear the tales of the London season directly from a pair of diamond earrings, jewelry does speak.  In its own way.  On its own terms.  Sometimes we just have to learn the language.


    The Language of Flowers by Margaret Pickston
    Compendium of Forms by George Gaskell

  • Mother’s Day Gifts, Part II: Eclectic Gifts

    Last post we covered a number of classic options for Mother’s Day gifts. But what if your mum gravitates towards the unusual and colorful, rather than the clean and simple? Fear not, dear readers. At Isadora’s we pride ourselves on carrying something for everyone, and our collection is unabashedly eclectic.

    Swinging to the boho side of our collection, we have this elegant yet earthy mixed agate cabochon necklace set in 9K yellow gold. Circa early 1900s, this can be dressed up or dressed down, perfect for any occasion.


    Shop: Victorian Agate Necklace

    A recent arrival to our collection this is a striking Arts & Crafts amber ring. Set in silver, its features a beautiful cabochon cut amber stone.


    Shop: Arts & Crafts Amber Ring

    Lastly we have this lovely vintage Zuni turquoise cuff, crafted from silver and teardrop shaped stones. Both substantial and feminine, it makes for a perfect summer accessory.


    Shop: Vintage Zuni Turquoise Cuff Bracelet

    Shop Mother's Day Gifts

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