NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for January 2009
In This Issue
- 2009 Is Here!
- Collecting Doesn't Have to be Expensive - It Has To Be Enriching by Bob Minnocci of RJM Antiques
- Renovating Your Jewelry by Baya Gatter of Eternal Fine Jewels
- Jade: Stone of Heaven
- January Lane Sampler: Porcelain
2009 IS HERE!
Temperatures are especially frigid lately for many of us. January is a great month to shop online and avoid the cold weather. Click here to see a special January 2009 video message from Ruby Lane, or go to:
COLLECTING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE - IT HAS TO BE ENRICHING BY BOB MINNOCCI OF RJM ANTIQUES
People who build collections of historical documents, autographs, photographs and other paper of historic significance have a keen understanding of why they love collecting. The reasons can be specific or broad but I think it's safe to say that collecting enriches our lives, allowing us to interface with times past, sometimes worthy of embrace, other times rejection, but always leaving us more informed than before about actions that have shaped us as a nation and a world.
One major reason people like me collect is the deep sense of excitement of holding and owning a document signed by someone famous or infamous or someone who lived many years ago when America was in its early formative stages.
One major fear that prevents people from engaging in this hobby is a misconception that collecting is expensive. You, as the collector, need to decide what your budgets should be. Some letters and documents can be found for as little as $25 to $75. The next step is to decide what's meaningful, which is a personal and individual decision. I'm moved by many categories and time periods of history because I believe that they fit together like a puzzle, providing clues to how history has brought us to where we are.
Three of my favorite categories are the Colonial, Revolutionary War and Early America periods, the beginning of America. If we, as a nation, failed at this early point, America might look very differently today.
I recently located a partially-printed document signed by Lexington Minuteman William Walker (1751-1831), not expensive but fun for collectors of Minutemen, Revolutionary War, Early America and the American justice system. The document grants guardianship rights and is signed by Walker. Standing alone, the document might seem average, until one considers that Walker, an impressive and accomplished figure, signed it.
Walker came to Berkshire County, Massachusetts in 1770 when he was 20 years old. He was a merchant, a builder, a surveyor, a soldier, a judge of the county courts and judge of probate. As a Minuteman, he was in Capt. Dibble's Company in Col. John Patterson's Regiment. The men marched over the hills and across the state after the Lexington alarm. The regiment was stationed on Charlestown Neck during the Battle of Bunker Hill. A few days later, the regiment became the 26th Massachusetts and then entered the Continental Army.
He crossed the Delaware with Washington, was at the Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776, at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, and at the Battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777. And, he was a member of the convention that framed the Massachusetts Constitution in 1790. Two famous governors - John Hancock and Samuel Adams - appointed Walker to judicial posts in the latter part of his life. To say that he played a role in America's early history is an understatement.
People who lived later also played important roles in American history. Consider the Whig Party, formed to protect the two party system and offer an important balance of power. The Whig Party operated from 1833 to 1856 and opposed the policies of President Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party. Specifically, the party supported the supremacy of Congress over the Executive Branch and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism. The name of the party echoed that of American Whigs of 1776, who fought for independence and opposed autocratic rule.
The party had some important luminaries, such as Daniel Webster, William Henry Harrison, Henry Clay and four war heroes, including generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. Abraham Lincoln was a Whig leader in frontier Illinois. Harrison and Taylor were elected as president.
The party was destroyed over whether to allow the expansion of slavery, but not before it made an important contribution to the evolution of American history.
Collectors can still find many exciting and detailed letters of excellent content connecting the Whigs with people in small town America. I located a letter recently -- another inexpensive example - that illustrates how Harpswell, Maine Legislator Clement Skolfield navigated among political headwinds to nominate Paul Randall for the Maine State Senate in January of 1855.
Beautifully detailed, Skolfield writes to Randall: "The House has been this day organized by the Elections of Mr. Pecham from Woodstock...receiving 106 Votes the old Democrats had 40 Votes. I understand...that objection is made to you as counselor on the ground or supported ground that you authorized your name to be used in connection with Senator on those tickets that was sent to some from the state of Maine on the day of Election...I have stated you did not & that you [were] a candidate for Senator on the regular ticket. I have also stated that you was opposed to making a Whig nomination for governor & was willing to take Mr. Morrill for the Whig Candidate.
"...I do not recollect who was on the ticket with you for Senator excepting John Sawyer. I gave the tickets to Thomas Pennel & told him I thought he had better destroy them...
"Mr. Willis [and] Mr. Com say you are the best man that has been named for the situation & they think the strongest but can't tell much. At present I think you had better come up here as soon as you receive this. If you cannot come, write me weather [sic] you authorized your name to be...on the ticket I have named or not & weather [sic] you declined being a candidate on the regular ticket or not & weather [sic] you was in favor of a Whig nomination or not.
"I think there is a nearly a dozen candidates for the office & the more split the better for you if you can get the most votes on the #1 ballot.
"They have also got a story here that you do not want the office. I have told them it was not true that you told me that you did not care about it...But that you told me you should like the honor provided your friends thought enough of you to bring you forward."
There are many great letters and documents available and waiting to be found by beginning and avid collectors. My advice is to select a category or categories that most interests you and find the price range you're comfortable with. The search is fun and the find rewarding.
We invite you to visit RJM Antiques
RENOVATING YOUR JEWELRY BY BAYA GATTER OF ETERNAL FINE JEWELS
With soaring gold prices and economic hardships, many people are not acquiring or adding as many pieces of jewels to their collection.
So what is a girl to do when she wants to add a new little treasure to her collection, but is limited because of finances? Open your jewelry box and start exploring and getting creative - You will be surprised what you will find---a treasure of goodies that can be recreated, recombined and redesigned into something new and outstanding.
Last year, I shared several ideas in my January 2008 Ruby Lane Past Times Newsletter with regard to updating your jewelry. With more ideas to share, I hope to inspire and get the creative juices flowing.
Everyone loves earrings and whether you have pierced or non-pierced ears, you can give your earrings a whole new dimension in design. If you have a pair of pearl studs and a pair of diamond stud earrings, why not combine them as one. The diamond solitaire, depending on size, could be set at the base of the pearl. Of course, the backing has to be removed and redesigned. This can also be applied with any combination of gemstone stud earrings. You may have a unique cut or color gemstone that would look exquisite combined together. Imagine rose quartz with amethyst, black onyx and tiger-eye, blue topaz and sapphires, diamonds and everything.
Chandelier earrings are glamorous as well as "tres chic". If you have a pair of dangle earrings that are short and wide they would make a good base. Now see what you have in other longer dangle earrings. If you have 3 or 4 earrings that you do not wear, imagine what a spectacular pair can be created. The add-ons dangle at different levels.
If there are earrings you don't wish to wear any more such as a pair of gold hoops, why not have them soldered together horizontally or vertically and have the birthstones of your children or grandchildren set in the center for a one-of-a-kind pendant.
Depending on the size and shape of the earrings, you could have a shank designed and now you have a beautiful ring---perhaps one for yourself and the other one for your daughter. You could also have a pendant and ring set made.
If you have an odd half pair earring, you could have it made into a tie or hat pin or why not add a bale to it and have it soldered on to your favorite charm bracelet.
Your fine pearl necklace or gemstone bead necklace could have an exquisite clasp made from the 1/2 pair earring and a matching ring could be made from the other half.
Again with an odd half pair or several pairs, you could have the backings removed and have them added to a chain. If you have an extra chain, imagine how beautiful it would look as a jeweled neckpiece. A single earring could be added to the center simply by having the chain cut in half and soldering each half to the earring. Imagine if you have a half diamond solitaire that has been sitting in your jewelry box---you can now wear it as a beautiful diamond solitaire necklace. At the same time, if you have several earrings, they could be set between the links at various inches apart for a truly magnificent neckpiece.
Do you have rings that you no longer wear? The shank can be removed and the setting can be made into a slide for a slide bracelet. Slide bracelets are so unique and individual. Imagine creating such a unique piece from rings you no longer wear. You may not have enough rings for an entire slide bracelet, but at least it's a start and you could acquire other slides over time.
If you have several thin bands which are similar in width, they could all be connected and worn as a rolling ring. A perfect example is the classic tricolor pink, yellow and gold rolling band. Imagine how elegant it would look if one of the thin bands was an eternity band and was blended with two other two-tone bands.
A plain gold band can have a totally new look by adding small designs on the ring. For example, you could have twisted wire added along the edges or small beads soldered to the surface. If the ring is thick enough why not have a design cut-out all the way around. The words "I Love You" could be engraved all the way around your band, especially if it is wide enough.
Sentimental at heart? Your parents or grandparents weddings rings might be very dear to you and they are just sitting in your jewelry box. The smaller ring could be slightly cut, interlocked with the larger ring, a bale added and you could then wear it as a pendant.
If the gentlemen in your life no longer wears his cufflinks, the backings could be removed and two rings could be made by having a shank designed for them---father/son matching pairs. Depending on their design, you may wish to have a ring with a matching pendant made for yourself. If they are solid gold, you could even have a gem added to them for color or sparkle.
Two thin/medium width flat chains that are the same length could be intertwined as one chain---now all of a sudden two chains look like one substantial piece. Simply lay them flat beside each other and criss-cross one over the other.
Lariats are unique neckpieces and you certainly can design your own. If you have a simple necklace approximately 22-24 inches long, have the closures removed at both ends. Now if you have an extra wedding band, preferably a gentlemen's wedding band since they are larger, you would have it soldered to one end of the chain while on the other end you could have a single or other small charms or pendants soldered. If you choose a single piece, it would be soldered at the other end, while several charms or pendants could be soldered a few millimeters apart. You then put the charm/pendant through the large band and pull it to the desired length you wish to wear it at. If you have unique gem beads why not create an explosion of colors by adding them instead of the charms or pendants.
If you have a variety of pearl strands that you no longer wear, why not have them intermixed to create a unique mix i.e. pearls of assorted sizes and types. Freshwater pearl combined with baroque pearls, cream mixed with grey. Jazz up a simple pair of pearl beads by adding gold beads or gold links in between, i.e. 3 pearls, 3 links, or 3 pearls, 3 gold beads. If you have a link necklace you no longer wear then you could create this beautiful new neckpiece and if there is enough left, perhaps a matching pearl/link bracelet.
Do you have a very, very long necklace? You could have strands cut, joined together with a clasp at the end for a multi strand bracelet.
A diamond or multi gemstone tennis bracelet can have a new meaning. Imagine how many new pieces of jewelry you can have from one tennis bracelet. Chandelier earrings would be spectacular or a simple single dangle strand earring would look classic and elegant. This could compliment your matching pendant or your new eternity band.
Combine two unique metals of jewelry for a diverse look and combination. For example a simple silver link bracelet with a single gold charm or silver necklace with a gold pendant will look absolutely beautiful together. This would allow you to wear other gold/silver combined jewels together. Sometimes simplicity is the most classic.
If you have some beautiful loose gold coins, why not have a signature piece of jewelry created. Perhaps the coin is from your native country and has sentimentality to you. Instead of keeping it locked away, you could wear it with pride.
Add stones to plain gold jewelry or replace old stones. Your jewelry will look brand new with a totally different look.
You can make a single piece of jewelry functional by wearing it in two different ways. A brooch can have a bale added and voila, you now have a pendant and visa versa.
The ideas are endless, the imagination has no limitations. An experienced jeweler, especially one who specializes in jewelry remodeling, can certainly create a beautiful piece(s) for you with your existing jewelry.
In closing, I hope I have been able to inspire you with a few of my suggestions and welcome all email inquires if you have any specific questions.
Important Caveat from Ruby Lane:
We would like to make it clear that it is not necessarily a good idea to rip apart, melt, or restyle a quality antique or vintage piece on a whim. Some jewelers actually refuse to redo some pieces and tell the client they should trade the piece instead. If it is still functional, and they are redoing the pieces for style, not sentiment, they may want to think twice. A quality piece with some age should be preserved, in our opinion. If the owner doesn't like it, trade it. If the piece is worn to the point where it has lost any collectible value, that is another case, and anything is acceptable. If it has sentimental value and the customer wishes to convert it into a piece they can actually use, that is also quite acceptable. But once altered, the value as a collector's piece is gone.
Stones can also be removed and reset while leaving the original mounting relatively intact. Then the jeweler can restyle the piece for future use, or the mounting can be retained by the owner, in case of "remount remorse".
We invite you to visit Eternal Fine Jewels
JADE: STONE OF HEAVEN
Jade has an incredibly long and sometimes confusing history. It has been used for jewelry, as well as other ceremonial and decorative uses. The history of jade mining in China may go back 6000 years, and ceremonial jade items with an age in the 4000 years range exist. It was also associated with ancient cultures in Korea, New Zealand, and was also used in the Pre-Columbian Americas.
Jade is a name that may be properly applied to 2 different minerals: Nephrite and Jadeite. It was not until the 1800's that mineralogists established that two completely different materials existed, both known as Jade.
Nephrite is the commoner of the two materials. It is composed mainly of calcium and magnesium. Iron may be present, in place of the magnesium, and it also contains silicon and oxygen. This is the material most often used in ancient cultures. It is the only variety of Jade found in China. It is best known in various shades of green, but white, grey, black, and yellow to brown are also possibilities. Pieces which are white with a grey or green tint occur.
In New Zealand, Jade was important in the Maori culture. The stone was again Nephrite. Much of the material from New Zealand exhibits a grayish-green color, and it is known for a dark green Nephrite, often referred to as "spinach jade". Black also occurs here.
Guatemala is believed to be the source of jade in pre-Columbian America. While some Nephrite is found here, archeological digs have revealed that most mines produced Jadeite.
Jadeite is primarily composed of sodium and aluminum, along with silicon and oxygen. Trace elements of iron, titanium , and chromium will affect the ultimate color, and some bluish Jadeites are known, the color probably created by the presence of iron. Jadeite is rarer, with about a dozen worldwide sources. It does not seem that this material was known in China before the 19th century. Before that date, Nephrite was sometimes known as Imperial Jade. The imported Jadeite quickly found favor in China and the term Imperial Jade is now associated with a particular deep green variety. This material was mined in northern Myanmar (Burma) as early as the 14th century, but hostilities prevented trade between China and the mining regions until the late 1700's.
In addition to the green seen in Nephrite, some reddish orange and lavender colors exist in Jadeite.
Some terms are appropriately applied to particular shades of the different Jades. However, this is best left to those with years of studying the sometimes very subtle differences in Jade colors.
Imperial Jade or Emerald Jade refers to an intense green Jadeite, reminiscent of fine Emeralds. The material is normally semi-transparent.
Apple Green Jade normally refers to a particular intense yellowish green jadeite.
Yunan Jade may refer to Nephrite of Jadeite in a dark green color.
Kingfisher Jade may refer to an intense medium-green Jade.
Moss-in-snow Jade may refer to a white translucent Jade with mottled streaks or areas of green.
Mutton fat Jade may refer to a Nephrite which is translucent white to a pale yellow color.
New Zealand Greenstone, New Zealand Jade, or Spinach Jade may refer to the grayish green nephrite of New Zealand.
Again, we do not recommend that these terms be used by shop owners.
As if having two different minerals identified by the same name, and many specialized names associated with varieties of these two minerals does not confuse the issue enough, the identification of Jade is also complicated by the presence of many imitators and misrepresented materials.
Serpentine and Aventurine are often found in the same localities as Jade. These two green gems are often misrepresented as Jade. Other gems which may be mistaken for Jade or misrepresented as Jade include Idocrase, Hydrogrossular Garnet, Chalcedony, Maw-sit-sit, Soapstone, and Saussurite. Glass is also used as an imitation Jade. The names which these materials are often misrepresented with include Transvaal Jade, African Jade, Alaska Jade, Amazon Jade, California Jade, Colorado Jade, Fukien Jade, Garnet Jade, Honan Jade, Hunan Jade, Korean Jade, Mexican Jade, New Jade, Oregon Jade, Serpentine Jade, and Soochow Jade. Some of the localities used in these misnomers also do produce Jade, further confusing the issue.
These names are considered misnomers, which are inappropriate for use as identification of a material. It is not proper to use these misnomers in titles or categories. They may be used in descriptions, with quotation marks, but only when you have [properly identified the true nature of the material and are merely using the misnomer to comment on the way the material is improperly represented at times. There is more information on this for shop owners in the Quality Assurance Forum article entitled "Proper Representation of Jade."
It is alright to represent a material which you know to be Jade as Jade. It is better to identify it as Nephrite or Jadeite. Either of these terms may be followed by the term Jade.
Jade and its many imitators are also subject to a great number of enhancements. Jade is enhanced by dyeing, heating, and impregnation with waxes and other materials. Some dyeing is detectable, as is wax impregnation. Some of the newer methods of impregnation using plastics and polymers are very hard to detect. Many imitations may be identified by visual appearance, but measurements of the specific gravity, refractive index, or spectral analysis are needed for many definitive identifications.
Jade normally has a hardness of about 6-7, comparable to many quartz varieties. Jadeite is slightly harder, and will resist scratches to the surface better than Nephrite. Nephrite is tougher however, being more resistant to cracking or shattering. Nephrite is one of the toughest gem materials in existence. Standard cleaning methods are safe for Jade pieces, although steam cleaning may have a negative effect on stones impregnated or treated with waxes. Carving, seen in many Jade pieces, may create some weaker areas in a stone.
The title of this article was borrowed from a book of the same name, written by Richard Gump in the early 1960's. An author, musician, philanthropist, and businessman, Gump was associated with the San Francisco family business of the same name, which was known for its specialization in Oriental arts, and the book is the classic in the field. We pay homage to his work by using his title for this short article and recommend that anyone with an interest in Jade or oriental arts read the complete original work.
Jade is available in all the areas of jewelry available on Ruby Lane. You will find many fine antique and vintage jewelry pieces, as well as work by our contemporary Artisan Jewelers. The Jade itself is quite durable and suitable for daily wear.
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