Hunting for Treasure in Sydney, 2010

September 28, 2010

As mentioned last week, I spent an all-too-brief weekend in Sydney, where I got to meet a lot of lovely people who all opened their ears to my unstoppable rambling about old jewellery. I’d like to thank the wonderful people at the Victoria & Albert Antiques store at the Strand Arcade for their hospitality and the lovely conversation! If you’re ever in the city, do pop in and have a look, they have some magnificent things. I’d also like to thank all the lovely people who wrote in and gave me some superb advice on where to go treasure hunting in New South Wales, your help was not only brilliant, but invaluable.

But enough of the preamble, you’re wondering what did a lucky lad like myself find? Was there any form of treasure that I couldn’t pass by? Well, I’m an impulsive chap by nature, so I can’t restrain myself sometimes and couldn’t resist the allure of the following brooch and ring:

Garnet Ring, c.1830

(excuse the impromptu phone-photography)

1830s Embellished 3rd Stage Mourning Ring

Similar Style

The ring is 9ct and the beautiful garnet (which is a rather pale/ruby colour, I’ll see if I can get better pictures soon) is a later replacement for the original hair memento. Surrounding the ring and following over the bezel is the magnificent 1830s floral embellishments, which show the evolution of the style from the previous cleaner lines of the Regency period.

Note the similarities to the following piece and see how the design became ubiquitous. Another lovely feature of the ring that is now sitting proudly in the collection is that it shows very little wear at all, for a ring that has design built into the band, there’s very little wear.

Early 19th century brooch with hair and pearlsAs for this brooch, I can’t say enough superlatives to describe how wonderful it is. It has the rectangular shape that was quite common from around 1800-1820 and would date to the earlier side of this. Surrounding, the pearls are in remarkable condition, but it’s also inside where this brooch is the business. Here, we have a border in gold, with triangular patterns etched in (which when magnified look almost Masonic, but one would assume it’s simply the design) and then the dual over-crossed hairwork underneath. What makes the hair so lovely is that the contrast of the brown/blonde hair is so striking, that you can’t ignore it. Furthermore, what is rather unconventional is that rather than using slim glass, there is a heavy, domed piece of crystal covering the hair and magnifying it as well. With so much at play here, the piece is actually physically weighty to hold.

Is that all, you’re wondering? Well, I did see a lovely blue enamel mid-19th century ring with pearls in the daisy configuration and hair compartment underneath that was in stunning condition, but my wallet can only take so much. Yet, there may be a couple more pieces that I’ve seen which may take the flight down to Melbourne in the next few days, but that remains to be seen.

Right now, I’m very happy with the new additions to the family and to everyone who I met and who helped me along the way, my undying thanks!

2 Responses to “Hunting for Treasure in Sydney, 2010”

  1. Laura Masselos Says:

    What lovely pieces! I particularly like the ring; it reminds me of Tudor England 🙂 And the brooch, well it’s beautiful with the pearl surround. Did you end up venturing up to Blackheath? Nothing take your fancy? I’d feel terribly guilty sending you all that way to have been a huge disappointment (ok apart from the fact that your wallet already took quite a beating)?


    • Oh Laura, I was all geared up to go, but with all that horror at the airports, I spent about 5hrs of my Sunday swanning about in a terminal and trying to reason on ways to get home, so that took all the life out of my plans (perhaps I should commission a jewel to remember the occasion by).

      However, I’ve got all your brilliant notes and I hope to be going back in the next few months to spread some magic and some money!


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