Every Jewelry collector knows that there is nothing better than finding a Georgian or Victorian piece of Jewelry in its original box. The fitted velvet interior and brightly colored silk-lined lid, the quality leather exterior, burnished by age, the makers mark printed inside the lid. And all the wonderful shapes! Leather boxes shaped and molded around its keepsake, sometimes into quite extra-ordinary designs like, for example, this rather phallic pipe box below...

Meerschaum Pipe. 19th Century French. Amber And Ivory Pierced Heart Design. May have been an opium pipe!

Shagreen Fitted Case for a Bilston Perfume Bottle.

Shagreen is a type of leather, historically from a horse's back, or from a shark or ray.

The word derives from the french chagrin and is related to Venetian sagrin, derived from the Turkish sağrı/çağrı - 'rump of a horse' or the prepared skin of this part. The roughness of its texture led to the French meaning of anxiety, vexation, embarrassment, or annoyance.

In the 17th and early 18th century, the term shagreen began to be applied to skin made from shark or ray. It was first popularised in Europe by Jean Claude Galluchat, a master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV of France. It quickly became a fashion amongst the French Aristocracy, and soon migrated throughout Europe by the mid-18th century.

Red Moroccan Leather Fitted Box For An Enamel Miniature Circa 1730

Another Box (for a larger portrait)

Late 18th Century Georgian Shagreen Cases For Shoe Buckles - photo from Georgian Jewellery by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings p35

See my French poissarde earrings c1780 featured in Georgian Jewellery by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings p48. you can see clearly here that the box is constructed from a wood block with fittings cut out and topped with velvet, red leather outer box with silk satin inside the lid.

Georgian Poissarde Earring Box

Handwritten clues for the detective...

French 19th Century Earrings In Original Box

Fitted Box For a sentimental pearl and hair pendant, early 19th century. By ' R..... Jeweller .... Holborn, London'

(Although hair jewelry is associated with death and mourning, this is actually not the case. Hair from children, close friends and family and even one's self was often taken and arranged into custom made pieces to be worn as keepsakes.)

Georgian Box the silk interior curved to hold wider cigar bands

Again here you can see that the box is constructed from red leather, card, velvet covered wood block and silk, with tiny brass hinges and hooks.

A Matching Pair Of Rings for brothers upon their father's death late 18th century with matching Ring Boxes

Fitted Box For an Ornamental Hair Comb. English 1833 -40. British Museum. The was made by 'Kitching & Abud, Jeweller To The Queen, 46, Conduit Street'

Above photo from the book 'Jewellery In The Age Of Queen Victoria' by Charlotte Were and Judy Rudoe.

Assorted Shapes....

A Georgian Ring Box made for a pair of rings, proudly stamped 'by appointment to the queen' Bennett Watchmaker and Goldsmith'

Horseshoe Shaped Ring Boxes And Bracelet Box Circa 1830. Note the different styles of ring display. On the left a velvet-covered wire bends to fit and hold the ring. On the right, a flap holds the ring in place.

Inside the central ring box here, the ring sits over a molded fitting that can not be adjusted, rather like the snake bracelet above.

Little Coffins... the combination of colors is always a surprise. As you can see the earlier boxes were most often red or black Moroccan leather, with a cream, or pale blue silk interior. But later, in the Victorian era, the creation of new aniline dyes made other colors possible.

Romantic Hearts

Boxes in England were made in the jewelry districts of London and Birmingham, mainly by women, and often at home, as piecework, to supplement the household income.

Antique ring box for twelve rings

Makers Branding inside the lids

Earring Boxes

Proposal box?

Will you marry me? Proposal ring box by Garrards. A nifty design which allows the gentleman to get down on one knee, open the box with a flourish and display the ring as it pops up. He is also able to display the fact that he bought it from the best place in town. Garrards! Crown Jewellers by Appointment to the Queen. Who could say no?

Cheap and cheerful, vintage cardine boxes

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Male suitors of the period were known to give these gifts of 'friendship' to women they admired. Courtship followed strict rules and it wasn't the done thing to send a token of 'love' at an early stage. Mind you even at the time of his marriage Earl Spencer gave his fiancee a ring of two turtle doves inscribed 'imitons les en amitie' translating as 'let us be friends like them'

Equally, women gifted their friends with tokens of friendship, and they developed crushes on other women. -

'Following the example of the cousins Clare and Julie in the Nouvelle Heloise, women friends, sister and relations also experienced "this tender feeling, this trust in each other" Madame de la Briche described the development of her friendship with a distant cousin Algae de Langeron "we soon his nothing from each other. Young and impressionable, our friendship became both a reward and a joy" These best friends were observed by Le Tableau de Paris, " they hide the miniature of the beloved friend within their bracelets, they can talk of nothing but the joys of friendship"

And finally - Madame de Pompadour commissioned several gems from Jaques Guay in 1753. Inscribed 'Long et Prope, more et Vita' - nothing can change friendship, to mark the transformation of her relationship with Louis XV from love to friendship. - Nice one!

Excerpts from ‘le grand frisson’ Diana Scarisbrick

#gagedamitie #tokenoffriendship #georgianjewelry #georgianlocket #georgianclasp #georgianlove #sentimentaljewelry


Are any of these even real any more?....

eye miniature from the V & A museum London

Georgian Eye Miniatures - how to spot a fake

Our Love Affair With Those Eyes...

This week’s blog post is all about Georgian eye miniatures, and how to spot a fake.

Brooch pictured is from the V & A. I’m not going to post any pics of fakes incase I make myself unpopular!!

Georgian eye miniatures are extremely desirable and as a result prone to fakery.

Georgian eyes became fashionable after George V commissioned one as a token of his love for the Widow Maria Fitzherbert. The period of this trend was from approximately 1790 to the 1820s.

So the first thing you need to look at is the style of the piece of jewellery. Is it from this period? Is the eye from this period?

Fake eyes are commonly cut from other painted miniatures. At least the eye should be Georgian!

This leads to another set of questions. Is the setting edge tampered with? Has it been pried open to add this new painting? Importantly does the painting sit seamlessly to the edge, or is it jagged and cut?

These pieces were commissioned by high society and the pieces were made by the best Jewellers - there would be no shoddy workmanship.

Next, if there is a dedication on the back does it match the eye, does it make sense? Henry ob 79 wouldn’t go with a ladies eye for example.

Importantly does the eye look like it was designed for the ring? Is the composition good? Or is there a bit of cut off nose showing? Has the watercolour been rubbed away to show the ivory , leaving one eye, destroying the remaining watercolour? In fact is it a watercolour?

Check with your loupe for pixels to make sure it isn’t printed! You should see brushstrokes. To confuse things further there were/are some very skilled portrait miniature artists working on repro versions of these too, even since Victorian times.

Price - if it's a bargain, come on, it's not real. If you want to pay £200 for a fake maybe it would be fun and not a deal breaker, but what if you pay £1500 for a fake. At the time of writing I would expect a genuine eye piece to be £6000 - £10,000.

More for a ring

Finally remember that not many of these were ever made and even fewer were rings...


#georgianeyeminiaure #eyelover #antiqueeyejewelry #georgianeye #georgianeyefakes #jewelrytips #portraitminiature