We love Halloween. Every year we decorate, we dress-up and we find something fun to do. Sometimes we go to parades, or costume contests, trick-or-treating, or out for dinner and a movie. Halloween is a great experience for the Pendant and Ring family; it is a holiday we cherish.
There are thousands of elegant and creepy jewelry pieces, far too many to cover in one post. Lucky for you it only takes a few of these awe-inspiring and creeptastic pieces to wake the goblin inside. This exploratory history features eight spooky jewelry pieces and one unforgettable spoon. They are sure to start your Halloween cauldron bubbling.
Tutankhamen’s Necklace: Courtesy Curses-R-Us
Before King Tut’s exhumation began in 1922 the idea of a cursed tomb was well established. Shakespeare cursed anyone who moved his bones but that was because the fledgling medical community paid for bodies so they could learn about anatomy. In truth, the Tut Curse was a way for the archeologists to ensure they were the only
grave robbers excavators on the scene. The financier did die a year later, but his death had nothing to do with Tut or Egypt. He scratched a particularly itchy mosquito bite with his razor. The subsequent infection did him in. Other deaths attributed to the curse are all explainable by typical attrition rates, old age, or cancer.
Science 1 : Curses 0
The Medieval Plague Stopper, or Spooky Cathedral Cat
Pilgrimages were an expected part of pious Christian life during medieval times. When the pilgrim arrived at the shrine, cathedral, or holy place the bedraggled traveler traded an offering for a badge. This lead pewter cat badge was a memento from Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire England. Today the badge resides at the British Museum in London. Construction started on the cathedral in 1220 only 20 years after the Black Plague moved through the area decimating the population. Notably, the cat is carrying a dead rat in its teeth. Although doctors of the time thought the plague was God’s will and transmitted by bad smells, we now know fleas are the culprit. Perhaps the mad pewter-smith deduced the plague’s true nature.
Philip the Good’s Creepy Gothic Spoon
The French Royal, Philip the Good loved his jewels and evidently his tablescapes too. This enameled spoon shows a fox preaching peace from a raised pulpit in the spoon’s bowl. There is a forest painted on the outside of the bowl and remnants of enamel on the stem. Upon close inspection one can see a small fox sneaking away from beneath the pulpit with a bird in his mouth. Being that the fox is speaking to an audience of fair-feathered foul, experts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston surmise the spoon is a critique of the clergy, and a reference to a well know French proverb: “When the fox preaches beware your geese.”
Mourning Jewelry, mementos of the dearly departed.
Commissioned mourners jewelry was a popular, acceptable, and heartfelt way to mourn for a loved one, even into the 20th century. It is not abnormal to find locks of the deceased’s hair entombed in the mourner’s jewelry.
John Wilkinson made this locket in 1826 in Leeds, England. Today this display of affection for the deceased is generally frowned upon. Lacking photography, family members chose to keep a touchstone of their beloved as a memento. Not only did the jewelry serve as a memory of the deceased, it also served to remind the living that life is short. From Erica Weiner’s Antique Jewels we have a gold mourning ring with a lock of plaited hair mounted behind curved glass.
This mourning ring is fashioned in 10k gold with a hair locket under glass. The locket is framed by an ouroboros detailed with crosshatched black enamel scales and a red enameled mouth and eyes. Snakes in general, and ouroboros in particular, are representations of eternal love and were popularly used in mourning jewelry from the late 1700s throughout the 19th century.
Art Nouveau Moth and Fairy because Halloween can be pretty too.
Lucien Gaillard made this stunning moth pendant in 1900 in Paris, France. After taking over the family jewelry business, Gaillard refocused the firm’s attention on metal-working. Luckily, a decade later he returned to jewelry. The soft looking moth pendant you see above is actually a combination of metal, bone, precious stones, and enamel. There is nothing soft about this delicate beauty.
We like this fairy woman because she is all the things Tinkerbell could have been. The green and gold beauty presented in the pendant above is somehow more complete to my eyes than the child-like visage of Disney’s Tink. If animators knew about and believed in the Women’s Liberation movement that began with the French Revolution Tink may have been a very different character. Peter Pan premiered in 1953 while France was in the midst of a second wave social revolution. If it was not for their forward thinking, the US Feminist movements of the 1960’s and 70’s and even today may not exist. Vive La France!
Vintage Owls, for a hooting good time.
On October third in 1944, A Katz submitted the design for these darling owls. Katz made two styles, one features green eyes as pictured and the other features amber eyes. Both varieties of Coro Craft Sterling “Hoots” duette brooches came with matching earrings. These vintage “Hoots” sell for $350 to $450 today, depending on their condition. Like so many vintage pieces, these owls proved a wise investment for a stylish collector.
Two additions to the Slytherin family collection.
The Gold Hellenistic ring dates back to 100 BCE, yet despite its age, the style is on point. Many ancient Greek snake pieces exist but we decided to share this one because it is home again, in the Benaki Museum in Athens, Greece. Forged, cooled and wrapped around a cylinder, this gold became a ring. The snake scales and stripes at the end of the tale are hand carved. The fold that forms the snakes first curve, and the many folds at the end are created by manipulating metal as it cools. Of course, we will never know exactly how the smith made the ring, only that Hesphaestus helped him at his craft.
Frédéric Zaavy of Fabergé designed this fantastic and fangless sea serpent. The black exterior is most likely toned sterling silver. The ring also contains white gold, yellow gold, opal eyes and beautiful inlaid sapphires in the center of the extended hood. Zaavy was inspired by the nemesis of many Russian fairy tales. As is often the case, a hero must follow the call of adventure. While he is away, the shape shifting sea serpent abducts his lover and there is nothing the hero can do. The girl-stealing sea serpent is a common enemy in may Russian fairy tales, and here, Zaavy has brought the alluring enemy to life.
We hope you enjoyed this brief trip through the magical mystical jewelry annals of history. Click subscribe in the sidebar and come back Tuesday for more Jewelry Goodness!