Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jet parure, probably mourning jewelry, circa 1860

More fabulously unaffordable goodies from last weekend's antiques show. This is probably the nicest complete parure of jet jewelry that I've ever seen. If I'd had $4500 to spare, it would have come home with me, but alas, we had to give it back to the dealer after he was kind enough to let me take a pic. J loves this sort of set, too, as much for the case (original & bearing the name of the Regent Street shop at which it was originally purchased) as for the contents. Every single piece in this group was in amazing condition, no mean feat given its age & the fact that many women wore mourning clothes & accessories for four years or more after the death of a spouse or child.

The aesthetic beauty of antiques is only part of their appeal, at least for me. I'm not interested in collecting for reasons of status, either. I love the social & cultural significance behind the objects, even when, as here, they were most likely purchased during less-than-happy times. I wonder how I would have dealt with wearing mourning? The nonconformist in me would have been appalled at being expected to wear only certain styles & colors due to societal expectations lest I be accused of not grieving sufficiently or having loose morals. Both men & women wore mourning attire during the Victorian era, but standards were stricter for women. The feminist in me bristles at that, as at many things, but I must admit I'm glad beautiful objects like these were created & that some have survived for us look at & ponder.

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