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Mysterious Art Nouveau-ish Pendant Necklace

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    Posted 5 years ago

    critchpics
    (3 items)

    My step-mother just gave me this necklace, but she couldn't remember anything about it's provenance. It has some design components that are reminiscent of Art Nouveau, but a couple of things have me wondering if it's contemporary. The tiny toggle clasp seems odd, as does the fact that the back of the pendant has decorative components. Remember that these are the musings of a novice. :-) I would be very appreciative for your expert opinions.

    I've driven myself crazy looking for a mark, and haven't found one. I tested it and got a result of 14k, although I'm new at metal testing so take that into consideration.

    The pendant has a vine theme that is continued to the chain. The opals in the central part of the pendant are oval cabochons except for the top one which is pear-shaped and mirrors the larger shaped opal that dangles from the bottom. Sadly, they're in terrible shape.

    Approx Dimensions:

    Entire pendant - 3x2 inches
    Length of chain - 16.5 inches

    Mystery Solved
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    Comments

    1. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 5 years ago
      It's really lovely!
    2. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Thanks catherine'scollections! Hard to believe someone not remembering how it got in their jewelry box :-)
    3. BelleEpoque BelleEpoque, 5 years ago
      I do believe you have a beautiful antique piece, from around 1900. The quality of the work and the opals are great. Nice gift!
    4. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 5 years ago
      BelleEpoque, does it matter a lot if the opals are dinged a bit? Can opals be repaired?
    5. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      Oooh... Beautiful Arts and Crafts necklace!
      Wait for Jewels1900 and Kiwipaul expert opinion!
      Sadly, nothing to do to fix the opals... Only changing them... For me I would leave it in original state.
    6. Moonstonelover21 Moonstonelover21, 5 years ago
      This looks Victorian lavalier necklace. Stunning piece. Great opals. !!
      Lee
    7. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Wow! Soooo exciting to think that it's the real mccoy! Thank you BelleEpoque, kyratango, and Moostonelover21 for looking and lending your expertise. And to everyone who took the trouble to look and love, my deep appreciation. I'm stunned.
    8. Jewels1900 Jewels1900, 5 years ago
      Lovely, lovely Arts & Crafts pendant. Defiantly old. Could be American or English. There's nothing that indicates a maker, it's very distinctive work. If you are in the US, let me know, I'll have a look in my American Arts & Crafts book to see if I can identify it. If you are in the UK, don't know, sorry.

      So much of this great hand made work is unmarked so it's hard to identify who made it. Google Arts & Crafts movement jewellery and you'll get an idea about how it fits into history.
    9. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Jewels1900, now I understand why kyratango was hoping you'd weigh in. Yes, the amazing hand work fits for the Arts and Crafts movement. Thank you for your very generous offer to do some research. I'm in the US, and given the timeframe, I'm guessing that this piece belonged to my stepmother's grandmother. She moved from Indiana to Massachusetts, if that's any help at all. Now that I understand that it's a lineage piece, I feel that it must go back to my stepmother for her granddaughter. I'll enjoy it while I can, and will also do some more digging. I love learning about all this. Thank you so much!!
    10. BelleEpoque BelleEpoque, 5 years ago
      You cannot repair the opals but you can prevent them from cacking further by submerging them in water for one night. Opals are mostly water and they crack when they dry out. They will also recover their sparkle.
    11. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 5 years ago
      Thanks to kyratango and BelleEpoque both for sharing their expertise on opals. I am particularly interested as I just acquired a large "opal", which seems to have been chipped on the back (concave) side. BelleEpoque, I will soak my stone this very minute and see what happens to it, thanks for that information! :)
    12. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      For opals, I heard too about a resin coating, but I have no further infos...
      For crazing, water prevent it to happen, but when already there....
    13. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      Also, for newly appeared on the market Ethiopian opals, water will extinct their fire until they dry thoroughly... Be aware of that if you buy jewellery with Ethiopian Welo opals!
    14. critchpics, 5 years ago
      BelleEpoque thank you for your expert suggestion! katherine'scollections and kyratango the opals are looking so much more alive and iridescent in the water. I was just reading that you can store them in a sealable plastic bag with a wet cloth or papertowel to keep them moist. I didn't know this of course, but it seems that they will crack when exposed to sudden extreme temperature shifts.
      kyratango, was just reading about Welo opals. Thank you for the warning. Now I must go find one to look at...
    15. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 5 years ago
      kyratango, do you mean a resin coating to repair or fill gaps and cracks? That's interesting!
    16. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      http://www.secretsofthegemtrade.com/articles_10_2.htm
    17. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 5 years ago
      This is an amazing necklace. It is fabulous that the integral matching chain has survived with the pendant. The style of leaves and berries is quite similar to Australia's great Arts & Crafts jeweler Rhoda Wager.

      However Rhoda would've used a wire framework. Your piece looks like it is built on a lost wax cast frame, which is an equally skillful technique, and certainly a "one-off" in this example.

      It is likely to be American, and could be made by Edward Everett Oakes, or his son Gilbert Oakes. You should definitely do further research. Gilbert's daughter, Susan Oakes Peabody is also a jeweler and is the authority on family pieces. If you can get in touch with her, she may be able to help with identification. Another source of info on American Arts & Crafts jewelry to try corresponding with would be the people at http://chicagosilver.com/

      If you wanted to restore the piece to the best possible state, and are prepared to put in the effort, it is possible to have the opals re-polished, and match and replace any that are too badly damaged.

      In my opinion the best people in the world to do this are the Nick and Tom King from Opal Pacific in New Zealand. They travel to the Tuscon Gem Show each year and it would be possible to meet them there and show them the piece and get a quote. The cost may be quite reasonable.
    18. Jewels1900 Jewels1900, 5 years ago
      Sorry, I've checked a few books but no likely maker. Most of these pieces remain a mystery.

      Paul's suggestions that you check out Chicago Silver is a good one. They are authoritative on American Arts & Crafts metal & jewellery.

      There's also an exhibition on 1900 jewellery on in Chicago at the moment.
    19. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Kiwipaul, I see exactly what you mean about Rhoda Wager's designs! Her leaves are more realistic though. I'm increasingly noticing as I look at all the leaf motifs, and thanks to your recommendation, I went through the entire Chicago Silver website, that my piece has leaves that are more fluid and abstracted. Could this difference be attributed to the lost wax technique? There is also something about Oakes and son, but there designs seem a little "chunky" in comparison.
      Jewels1900, thank you so much for checking your references! I did contact Chicago Silver and got a perplexed response from a kind man named Paul. I'm copying his reply verbatim.

      " It’s hard to tell exactly when this was made, but the 1900s estimate is probably a good guess. The branches and leaves and overall form are somewhat typical of that period. The only thing that might change this is that the chain almost looks as if if had been done by a modernist maker."

      I've requested some older books from the library, and also plan a visit and to the Cleveland Museum of Art library. If I'm lucky, I'll finagle a consultation with one of their curators.

      Thanks to all of you, I'm learning so much which is always my idea of great fun.


    20. critchpics, 5 years ago
      I've just learned that Grace Hazen lived very close to my stepmother's uncle in Gloucester (Rocky Neck), Massachusetts. There are very few examples of her work on the Internet, but a ring that I found at Bonham's made me wonder. She often work in gold and opals. Any thoughts?
    21. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 5 years ago
      Hi critchpics, from the few examples thrown up by Google it seems quite possible the piece could be by Grace Hazen, there are stylisitic similarities - great research!
    22. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Thanks kiwipaul! Coming from you that's quite a complement!
    23. MayanM MayanM, 5 years ago
      Real opals are notorious for cracking , they are very brittle. For the age they are in great condition. I like the idea of storing it in a plastic bag with a wet cloth. When you take it out to wear it, put some lubricant on them.
    24. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      So beautiful I had to love it again! :-)
    25. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Thank kyratango! I've established a certain connection between the necklace and Grace Hazen. Been doing a ton of research about her--very interesting and accomplished woman and artist--and hope to write something in the not too distant future.
    26. Bluboi Bluboi, 5 years ago
      It is always interesting to me to watch the progression of knowledge being gathered by a combined group of experts. Such fun! I am not very knowledgeable about A&C either so all of this is wonderful information.

      I love opals and have had a number of conversations with those in the gem industry. They have told me they can crack at any time and there is no predicting when it can happen. Sad, because I really want a harlequin opal with lots of red!

      I have a wonderful opal necklace which wasn't clasped properly and by the time I found it, it had fallen to the ground on concrete and 8 of the opals were badly damaged. I spent two years looking for a) stones which would match and b) someone who could repair the necklace. I wish I had had Paul's information, though I finally found some rough opal which was then cut for the necklace.
    27. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      Critchpics, I'm impatient to read about her!

      Bluboi, would love to see your opals :-)

    28. Bluboi Bluboi, 5 years ago
      Sorry for highjacking the thread, but Kyra asked so nicely....

      OK, here is the sad necklace. I suspect these opals were purchased as a set and then mounted. The hard thing about matching these opals was that they are blue tones with purple, no green at all. The gold was also damaged -- it is possible that the necklace was nicked by a car ...

      This is the necklace after retrieval from the pavement. The clasp opal was shattered and, if I remember correctly 8 other stones had cracks:

      http://photos.imageevent.com/bluboi/misc/Opal%20necklace1.jpg

      This is the repaired version. Not perfect and some of the stones are lighter than I wanted, but far better than before:

      http://photos.imageevent.com/bluboi/misc/websize/Opal%20necklace6-fixed.jpg

      I actually love this necklace so much, that if I could find someone who could redo (again) some of the stones, I would send it to them....
    29. critchpics, 5 years ago
      Hijack away Bluboi! That necklace is stunning.

      Not sure if this is an option, but KiwiPaul mentioned the following earlier in this thread:

      In my opinion the best people in the world to do this are the Nick and Tom King from Opal Pacific in New Zealand. They travel to the Tuscon Gem Show each year and it would be possible to meet them there and show them the piece and get a quote. The cost may be quite reasonable.

      I was advised by someone at an auction house to leave my necklace just the way it is. Now that I've formed an attachment to Grace Hazen :-), I'm more inclined to do that.
    30. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      Thanks Bluboi! Your necklace is amazing. You may try with Kiwipaul's opal men :-)

      Critchpics, I would prefer too leave original opals, as they are part of it's history :-)
    31. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 5 years ago
      Hi Bluboi, you necklace looks great and hard to pick up the replacement stones in the pics, but opals are notoriously hard to photograph.

      Nick and Tom King from http://www.opalpacific.co.nz/ are wonderful guys who've been in the opal industry for 40 years. They have stocks of many types of old opal material no longer obtainable and are experts in cutting opal to match vintage and antique pieces.

      They are quite large wholesalers of opal to the jewellery trade and travel to all the major gem fairs, with details on their website. If I was you I'd try and catch them at Tuscon next year, however if you phone or email them there will be several options to transport your necklace to them as they are shipping stuff around the world all the time.

      Good luck with that.

      ps I will try get round to posting some of our opals on CW.
    32. Bluboi Bluboi, 5 years ago
      Thanks Paul. I was out on their website, so may email them. I agree -- opals are horrible to photo! Can't wait to see some of yours.

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