Posted 6 years ago
Photos, left to right:
- Victorian aluminum and gilt bracelet with drop; circa 1860, signed DV for Deville. Domes of extremely bright aluminium are overlaid with floral motifs and as with the finest quality aluminum jewelry, this bracelet is mother-of-pearl backed. The bracelet is 7 inches in length and 1 and 1/8 inches wide. The center drop section is 2 inches long.
- Victorian aluminum and gilt metal brooch circa 1860.
- Victorian long chain, circa 1880, of oval plain and textured aluminum links, interspersed with gold links and set to a large barrel aluminum clasp.
- Unusual Victorian aluminum earrings, circa 1860 - 1870, in the form of daisies, their capitulum painted yellow. The earrings have their original riveted fittings and are in their original box.
Reference: "Jewellery, the International Era 1789-1910, Volume 1" by Shirley Bury, pg 351-353
The existence of aluminum oxide was postulated by Sir Humphrey Davy in the early 19th century, but it took until 1854 for Henri Sainte Clair Deville to successfully produce a commercial grade material. He caused a sensation at the Paris Exhibition of 1857 with a few aluminum articles.
Aluminum was classed as a precious metal for several years, even though derived from clay. The first kilogram made by Deville in 1854 was priced at 3000 francs. Thereafter the cost fell dramatically -- 1500 francs in 1856, 400 francs in 1859 and by 1891 it had dropped to 20 francs.
The metal is extremely light and doesn't tarnish, could be worked by casting but was resistant to soldering. Initially pieces were riveted, but by the 1860s, aluminum was mounted in gilt metal.
It is hard to find aluminum jewelry from the 1860s-1870s when it was more popular than gold.