Wednesday Wonders: Shiny and (Not) New

It’s the last Wednesday in December, and that means this is the final installment of Wednesday Wonders! Today, as we say goodbye, we get to glimpse some very special pieces.

Enamel, Lapis, and Diamonds Bracelet. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

Enamel, Lapis, and Diamonds Bracelet. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

We’ve gotten some inquiries about the age of the items in our fine jewelry collection. Many of the pieces in the museum’s collection are of American origin and contemporary (from 1960 onwards), but there are a few pieces that are from the mid to late 1800s.

Lapis and Diamond Earrings. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

Lapis and Diamond Earrings. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, most of the jewelry in this collection contains precious stones, such as diamonds, tourmaline, topaz, opal and smoky quartz.

The UMFA also possesses several complete sets of jewelry that contain earrings, a necklace, a bracelet or cuff, ring and a brooch.

Quartz and Diamond Earrings. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

Quartz and Diamond Earrings. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

In fact, you may have noticed a trend in some of the images in this piece: many of these things belong together!

Diamonds and Quartz Bracelet. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

Diamonds and Quartz Bracelet. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

We’ve seen how these pieces are stored, and know a bit about their care, but our readers want to know more. Jennifer Ortiz responded, “Robyn and I used little air puffers to air clean the pieces using forced air where there was build up of dust and debris. Otherwise we did not wet clean or intervene in any way.”

Brooch/Pendant Quatrz and Diamonds. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

Brooch/Pendant Quatrz and Diamonds. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

The museum has a large collection of ancient jewelry, too. Of the significance of these pieces, curator Luke Kelly says:  “It is a chance to see a more personal side of art. These pieces were worn during the person’s lifetime and were valued enough that often they were buried with them. You also get to see that for all the evolution of style, some things remain timeless. No woman would look out of place wearing the Egyptian necklaces. Natacha had an amber necklace restrung and so I think she probably wore it herself.”

"Natacha Rambova"

Paul Joanowitch, “Natacha Rambova,” 1925, oil

Well, our Wednesday Wonders series has drawn to a close. Tell us in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter: which is your favorite piece of jewelry we highlighted during this series?

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