Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers

Posted on July 09, 2020 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

While we tend to associate spring with flowers, blooms tend to be beloved all year round —even if we’re just remembering the spring’s bounty. There are some blossoms we can experience no matter what the season, however: flowers that appear in art, and in this case, the wearable art that is jewelry. The following pieces of jewelry feature floral designs and some even include real flowers! Wearing any of these lovely blooms, you’ll feel the fresh romance of Spring and new beginnings.   

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

This nature-inspired ring is a lovely reminder of Spring’s beauty and innocence. The friendly daisy bloom sits atop a twig band cast in recycled gold from a real Central Park twig. This ring is the definition of comfortable luxury.

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blossoming Branch Necklace in Sterling Silver

This delicate and graceful sterling silver necklace was cast from a blossoming branch with fresh buds using the ancient lost wax casting method. This pretty piece can add a touch of polish to everyday outfits as well as more formal wear.

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Barbara Michelle Jacobs Organic Tulip Design Post Earrings

Elegant and understated, these gold earrings inspired by tulips feature a small sparkling diamond in the center. These timeless earrings can be paired with almost anything. What you wear them with is up to you, but one thing is for certain—these little blooms will certainly elevate your look!

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Livin Lovin’ Bracelet Made with Real Flowers and Eco-Friendly Resin

The creative designer behind Livin Lovin’ places real flowers in eco-friendly resin for a fresh take on floral jewelry. Some of her pieces include flakes of real gold leaf for a glamorous touch. These delightfully affordable pieces make nice gifts for flower lovers.

Antique Late Victorian Natural Pearl Diamond Silver Gold Brooch

This Late Victorian-era brooch features a bouquet of diamond-set flowers and leaves tied tightly with a diamond-set bow. The large, natural baroque pearl lends the piece a sophisticated touch.

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Anat Basanta Tulip Earrings

For those who love minimalist jewelry, these tulip earrings by contemporary designer Anat Basanta are a hybrid of stud and dangle earring—the gold stem freely moves, giving the earrings a fun, whimsical quality.

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Passion Flower Made Live Succulent Ring

Succulent jewelry designer Susan McLeary trims succulent roots and secures them to jewelry using a plant-safe floral glue. All of the succulents are locally sourced from a family-owned greenhouse, and the jewelry bases are sourced from other small businesses. The jewelry is intended for special occasion wear—perfect for a botanical-themed wedding!—but if treated gently, the pieces can be enjoyed for a few weeks.

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Antique Diamond and Sapphire Brooch circa 1930s

This stunning brooch was likely created towards the end of the Art Nouveau era during which flowers and the natural world inspired fluid, languid lines in various art forms. The bright diamonds and the dark blue sapphires create an elegant contrast.

Beautiful Jewelry Inspired by Flowers | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry

Shiffers Oxidized Silver Tulip Ring

Sometimes jewelry really does look like wearable art. This oxidized silver ring featuring a copper tulip is indeed a statement piece. The avant-garde design should be allowed to take center stage in any outfit.

Are you enchanted by these flower-inspired pieces?

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Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs, Livin Lovin’ via Etsy, 1stDibs, Anat Basanta Jewelry, Passion Flower Made via Etsy, Shiffers

Posted in antique jewelry, art nouveau, brooch, brooches, nature, nature inspired jewelry, necklaces, oxidized silver

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings

Posted on June 18, 2019 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

These beautiful Jewish wedding rings featuring a “house” motif are steeped in centuries-old tradition, and although that tradition is poignantly shadowed by mass tragedy, these unique pieces ultimately symbolize love, union, and community.

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

The “houses” adorning these rings are actually miniature palaces or castles (and sometimes even temples symbolizing Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem) that represent a couple’s home. Often, the rings are inscribed with Hebrew, and on some, the house may open via a clasp to reveal the phrase “Mazal Tov,” which means “good luck” in Hebrew.

Sometime in the 10th century, these wedding rings were first documented as a part of the traditional wedding ceremony. Their existence may date back earlier, however. In the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, the groom symbolically acquires the bride, and the ring serves as a representation of money. The exchange wasn’t necessarily akin to the groom buying property, however. Rather, the bride’s acceptance of the ring symbolized her acceptance of the groom. The significance of the ritual explains why the rings were so ornate.

The ring’s ownership was likely determined by the relative wealth of the family. In some communities, a single ring may have been used during the wedding ceremony of every bride and groom and returned afterward. (A simple wedding band may have served as the everyday symbol of the couple’s union.) Wealthier families may have actually owned one of these rings, passing it down through the generations, thereby keeping the ring in the family. 

The first traditional Jewish wedding rings to be discovered date back to the 14th century. Beginning in the 1340s, the Black Death swept through Europe, killing up to 200 million people. Sadly, local communities sometimes blamed their Jewish residents for poisoning the wells and cursing Christians. Thousands of Jewish people were massacred while many others fled to avoid persecution. Those who fled often buried their valuables, hoping to return to them at a later date. Many families did not return to their former homes, however, and some of the most ornate wedding rings were discovered among the valuables unearthed centuries later.

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

Jewish wedding ring discovered at Erfurt, ca. 14th century. 

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

Jewish wedding ring discovered at Colmar, ca. 14th century. 

Fortunately, the sad events surrounding the Black Death didn’t permanently halt the production of these beautiful pieces. During a period between the 16th and 19th centuries, more advanced craftsmanship ushered in incredibly ornately designed rings, many of which included filigree and enamel. Gemstones were absent, however—likely due to religious reasons.

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

Ornate Jewish wedding ring, ca. 16-19th century.

After a period during which these style of rings were mostly absent from wedding rituals, an interest in their history (and owning contemporary versions!) has emerged. Jeweler Chloe Lee Carson has created a line of Jewish wedding rings suited to a contemporary aesthetic. But just like the wedding rings of yore, these are intended to serve as a “universal symbol of love, harmony, and holiness.” Check them out here!

The Fascinating History of Antique Jewish “House” Wedding Rings | Barbara Michelle Jacobs

Chloe Lee Carson 18 kt Gold Hoyz Sanctuary Ring

You may also be interested in: How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry
Photos: Chloe Lee Carson

Posted in antique jewelry, jewelry history, jewelry lore, jewelry traditions

A Brief History of Antique Miniature Portrait Jewelry

Posted on September 06, 2018 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Although mourning jewelry is typically associated with Victorian fashion, mourning jewelry dates back to at least the 15th century when miniature portraits (which were often worn as jewelry) gained popularity among European monarchy. In fact, the miniature portraits famously featured in Victorian mourning and sentimental jewelry is the product of centuries of development.
A Brief History of Antique Portrait Jewelry | BMJ Blog

Miniature portraits on display at the National Museum in Warsaw.

The Origin of Miniature Portrait Jewelry

Mourning jewelry expert Hayden Peters argues that miniature portraits have their roots in the introduction of the printing press. “Miniature” stems from the Latin miniare, or “to color with red lead.” During the 15th century (and for some time before), hand-printed books often featured red capital letters (these books are also known as illuminated manuscripts).

By the 1460s, however, these handmade books faced competition from books created with the printing press. Although there continued to be hand-illustrated books, some illustrators turned their attention to creating miniature portraits.

By the 1520s, miniature portraits were popular items in French and English courts. Jean Clouet in France and Lucas Horenbout in England were two early notable miniaturists, creating miniature portraits for jewelry that could be worn around the neck or simply held in the palm of one’s hand. At a certain point, miniature portraits were used to adorn snuff boxes as well.

A Brief History of Miniature Portrait Jewelry | BMJ Blog

Portrait of a man against a background of flames by Nicholas Hollard, c. 1600.

Miniature Portrait Symbolism

From roughly 1580 to 1635, miniature portraits were fashionable gifts among society’s elite. They could be given unframed to a loved one, allowing the recipient to select their desired frame. In some areas, they were even the subject of public ceremonies. In addition to serving as memorial pieces, miniatures were of special important to those whose loved ones were required to travel or live far away. For example, a wife may have kept a miniature portrait of her husband while he was away.

Peters points out that the Humanist movement during the Renaissance may have played a role in the popularity of miniatures. Given the renewed focus on the individual (rather than the divine), it’s no wonder that people would want to carry around images of the people they held dear.

A Brief History of Miniature Portrait Jewelry | BMJ Blog

Miniature portrait of Charles I.

Miniature portraits also served as an outlet for individuals’ political loyalties. During the reign of Oliver Cromwell, some people carried around mourning portraits of Charles I to show their solidarity with the Crown.

Miniature Portrait Materials and Innovations

Miniature portraits were sometimes as small as 40mm x 30mm. Initially, they involved watercolor painted on stretched vellum. By the second half of the 17th century, most miniatures were created by painting vitreous enamel on copper, a method that was particularly popular in France. By the late 18th century, this method was mostly replaced by watercolor on ivory (ivory had become fairly affordable by this point).

A Brief History of Miniature Portrait Jewelry | BMJ Blog

Miniature mourning portrait of a young girl.

The quality of miniature portraits varied, of course, with some featuring exquisite details while others were created from classic templates and adjusted to more closely represent an individual’s features—with varying degrees of accuracy.

With the development of the daguerreotype in the mid-19th century, the popularity of miniature portraits eventually diminished in favor of photographic technology.


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Photos: Wikimedia Commons, The Art of Mourning


Posted in antique jewelry, art, memorial jewelry, mourning

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Antique, vintage, and heirloom jewelry is undeniably special. Some antique pieces inspire joy simply because they have a rich history or belonged to a loved one. Other pieces may still be fashionable and are a staple in your wardrobe. Either way, it’s important to store and a care for your antique jewelry properly, so each special piece will last for generations to come. Although most jewelry care is common sense (don’t store your valuables right by the bathroom sink!), it never hurts to review proper care and cleaning tips.

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry


At the very least, antique jewelry should be stored in a cotton-lined box in a moderate temperature (an un-air-conditioned storage unit probably isn’t your best bet.) To avoid scratches, no jewelry piece should be in contact with another.

The following are a few tools you can take to protect your jewelry and extend time between cleanings.

Anti-tarnish paper tabs. These tabs are designed to protect sterling silver, nickel, copper, bronze, base metals, brass, tin, and gold. They will last up to six months in a regular container and up to one year in a sealed, air-tight environment.

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Anti-corrosion, anti-tarnish zip-lock bags. An affordable long-term jewelry storage solution, these zip-lock bags are designed to protect sterling silver, gold, copper, bronze, tin, brass, magnesium, and ferrous metals (iron and steel) from tarnish and corrosion. These bags are non-toxic and will not leave deposits on stored items. 

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog


Avoid spraying hairspray or perfume over jewelry. Apply these and any other body products prior to putting on your jewelry. Also, remove your jewelry before bathing, swimming, exercising, gardening, and doing housework—or any activity where you may exert yourself or be exposed to water or chemicals.


Antique jewelry should never be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner (jewelry bath). Although these cleaners are quite effective, the pulsation action may damage antique enamel or worsen a loose setting. Vibrations may also ruin delicate filigree work. Additionally, steer clear of store-bought dip solutions. These often contain harsh chemicals that can weaken enamel and otherwise damage an antique piece. Various metals and gemstones may require different methods and solutions for safe cleaning. For a breakdown of how to clean a particular kind of metal or stone, please consult the antique jewelry cleaning guidelines outlined by Past Era. 

General Care

Be mindful of the settings on your jewelry. If you notice that a stone is loose, place the piece in a ziplock back and take it to your jeweler for repair.  If possible, find a jeweler who specializing in antiques.

How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

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Photos: DWilson Antique, Deviant Art, Amazon

Posted in antique jewelry, informative, jewelry care, jewelry solutions, jewelry tips, vintage jewelry

Best Places to Buy Ancient Coin Jewelry Online

Posted on August 18, 2016 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Are you a fan of treasure but not keen on going hunting for it yourself? Do you love ancient coins but don’t believe they should be hidden away only to be viewed once in a blue moon? Jewelry made from ancient coins presents a way to indulge your love for history, treasure, and the exotic—and the best part is that you can select pieces from several independent vendors who do the jewelry making for you. The following are just a few online retailers specializing in ancient coin jewelry.

Lost Galleon Authentic Treasure Coin Jewelry

 Best Places to Buy Ancient Coin Jewelry Online 

Lost Galleon El Cazador Shipwreck

For over 20 years, Lost Galleon has specialized in rare, high-grade pieces from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Authentic coins are custom framed and crafted into a variety of pieces—from money clips to rings to necklaces. You can also shop by country of origin or shipwrecks (like Spanish shipwrecks). The cool thing about Lost Galleon is that the company actually dives for the coins themselves!

Ancient Creations

 Best Places to Buy Ancient Coin Jewelry Online 

Ancient Creations Portrait of Christ Pendant (Byzantine)

Ancient Creations sources rare coins from auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies, but all custom designs and mounting are done in-house. Ancient Creations’ jewelry features coins from ancient Greek, Roman, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, European/Medieval, Asian, and Byzantine collections.  The site also provides a detailed historical account of the development and usage of coins across ancient nation-states. History buffs, don’t miss Ancient Creations’ glossary of terms!

Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry

 Best Places to Buy Ancient Coin Jewelry Online

Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry Silver Drachma Bracelet (Greek)

Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry sources coins for jewelry mostly from Israel and the Middle East. Each product description includes brief historical context for the coin featured in the jewelry piece. If you have your own coin that you’d like set in a piece of jewelry, Erez welcomes custom orders. All pieces and designs are handmade in the United States.

Ferbers Unique Fine Jewelry

 Best Places to Buy Ancient Coin Jewelry Online

Ferbers Unique Fine Jewelry “A Perfect Sixpence” (England, 1916)

Among Ferbers’ collection of luxury pieces, the vendor features jewelry made from ancient and vintage coins.  The family-owned jewelry store is a member of Jewelers of America and has the highest rating for creditworthiness granted to any jewelry store in its trade area by the Jeweler’s Board of Trade. In addition to ancient coin jewelry, they also create pieces with ancient Roman glass and pieces of meteorite.

Ancient Resource

 Best Places to Buy Ancient Coin Jewelry Online 

Ancient Resource Ephesus Bezel

Specializing in ancient artifacts from Greece, Rome, and Egypt, Ancient Resource works with museums, universities, institutions, auction houses, galleries, and collectors in 40 different countries across the globe to procure its impressive collection of ancient goods—including jewelry featuring ancient coins. Each piece is all authenticated and legally acquired.

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Photos: Lost Galleon, Ancient Creations, Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry, Ferbers Unique Fine Jewelry, Ancient Resource

Posted in ancient coin jewelry, antique jewelry, coin jewelry, jewelry designers, jewelry history, vintage jewelry

How to Begin Your Own Antique Jewelry Collection

Posted on August 11, 2016 by Mary Hood | 2 Comments

How to Begin Your Own Antique Jewelry Collection | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

The ladies of Downton Abbey surely have the best jewelry on television!

Antique jewelry draws us in for many reasons. Often, there’s an interesting story accompanying an older piece (and it’s not very difficult to imagine a fascinating back story, either!). Moreover, some antique jewelry may be of better value and quality than similar jewelry made or reproduced in the current retail market.  And then there are those of us who simply like the look of older pieces (especially after a few episodes of Downton Abbey). From wherever your love of antique jewelry comes, with the right resources, you can start your own special collection.

Edwardian 14K White Gold Filigree Ring
Pro Tips for Starting an Antique Jewelry Collection

Shopping for and collecting antique jewelry can be more complicated than it may initially seem. Peter Shemonksy, an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow recommends jewelry collection amateurs begin with “a passion for learning, an inquisitive mind, knowing how to ask the right questions, a good visual memory, patience, and some money.” If you’ve got that thirst for knowledge, the first step is to consult the best resources.

Know Your Stuff

Shemonsky recommends familiarizing yourself with Understanding Jewelry by David Bennett and Danielle Mascetti and Warman’s Jewelry: Identification and Price Guide by Christie Romero. Full of beautiful illustrations, both books will help you learn about important style eras and jewelry designers. Warman’s Jewelry includes a price guide, which likely will not perfectly match current market prices, but it may give you a general pricing guideline. After learning about trends in jewelry, you may find that there’s a particular time period you’d like to focus on in your jewelry collection.

Understanding Jewelry

Warman’s Jewelry

The next thing to look for is a professional-quality 10x triplet magnifying loupe. This small tool that fits in your pocket will help you see detail like you’ve never seen it before. A magnifying loupe can help you decipher tiny engraved text and possibly even distinguish a counterfeit from the real thing.

How to Begin Your Own Antique Jewelry Collection | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Triplet Magnifying Loupe

Get Social

Once you’re ready to put your knowledge to use, get some hands-on experience with actual jewelry. Shemonsky recommends “getting friendly with one of the jewelry specialists and inquir[ing] about the pieces you are interested in, even if you may not be at the point where you’re ready to buy.” Both jewelry specialists and antique vendors are seeking to build relationships with possible clients, he explains. If anyone doesn’t seem interested in answering your questions (within reason, of course!), move on to a vendor who’s eager to talk about their offerings. Local jewelers, especially those who specialize in antiques or estate items, are another good resource. If you do find a piece that you’d like to purchase, Shemonsky advises to always ask this question: “Is it authentic and is it in original condition?”

Inspect Pieces Carefully

Before buying, handle a piece yourself and closely inspect the back (magnifying glass in hand!). Is there a jeweler’s signature? A stamp indicating the karat of metal? Pay special attention to the craftsmanship or any repair work. Does the quality of work on the back match the quality of that on the front? Shemonsky explains that there are several lower-quality reproductions of antiques on the market, so be wary: “it is easy to copy style, but copying craftsmanship is very expensive and not cost-effective in today’s market. So think with your eyes and compare with your brain.”

How to Begin Your Own Antique Jewelry Collection | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Antique Pearl Bracelet, Dated 1862, Natural Saltwater Pearl

Stay True to the Reason You Started the Collection

In any artistic realm (music, visual art, fashion, jewelry), there is an endless amount of pieces in the world coupled with all of the information about those pieces. It’s enough to overwhelm anyone. Collecting antique jewelry will remain a fun hobby, however, if you keep your original goals in mind. Along the way, a vendor may attempt to persuade you to purchase something that simply doesn’t suit your aesthetic, or a blog may put down your favorite era of jewelry—but just remember that this is your collection, and your taste reigns supreme.

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Photos: Downton Abbey, Perfect Jewels via Flickr, Amazon, Justin Celticfinds via Flickr

Posted in antique jewelry, Informational, jewelry tips, vintage jewelry

What is Filigree?

Posted on November 16, 2015 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Filigree is an ancient metal working technique that spans millennia and world cultures..... created by twisting, curling or plaiting fine and pliable precious metal wires into an intricate design.

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Posted in Ancient jewelry, antique jewelry, filigree, jewelry history, precious metal