Steel Cut jewelry is so cool and has such a great look. If you have never seen a piece in person it has a look of polished Hematite (metallic and shiny). Our chain is just beautiful with superb deep gray metallic color and a lot of shimmer from all of those facets on every bead. On the top of the chain you see a latch that would have attached to your watch. The watch was usually tucked into your pocket for a man or flipped over a sash on a lady. This lovely chain hung down as a flamboyant jewelry accessory as well as functioning as a form of handle for your watch. At the bottom of the chain you can see two more latches between the decorative tassels. You could use these to carry things like your vinaigrette, perfume bottle, wax seal and of course your watch key. Please note the large number of unusual pieces of steel cuts, an indication of early manufacture. According to a book called "Chatelaines" by Cummins & Taunton this is a Macaroni Chatelaine which style began as early as 1772. In the book, colour plate #27 shows a chain most like ours and states it as late 18th. Century.
The watch chain is in excellent condition and has no rust present. This amazing piece was evidently carefully taken care of during it's use, storage and later during it's life in a collection. I found nothing that looks to be a replacement and none of the patterns are missing any rings or beads. I only found what appears to be a minor repair. The decorative tassels at the base of the chain are comprised of 3 loops on each tassel. The loops have some flexibility as they were strung with just a bare hint of space to allow for movement. I can only guess that one end on one loop broke loose from it's tassel cap and when reattached it had glue or epoxy applied (see insert photo # 5). This one loop does not have the same flexibility and is in a more stiff oval formation. This minor repair and slight stiffness did not bother us. We prefer this to missing beads or the entire loop being gone! I have checked all three latches and they function properly. It you look in the photos you will see at the top of each latch a ribbed ring. You must unscrew the ring for the latch to be pushed open. You can then screw it closed to insure your fob item is secure. All three of the screws work smoothly.
The chain measures 12 1/8 inches long by approximately 1 1/2 inches wide through the tassels with that somewhat ladder pattern measuring 3/4 inches wide. A fabulous piece for an antique jewelry, watch chain or chatelaine collection in outstanding condition!
Steel cut (also called Cut-steel) jewelry is known to have been manufactured as far back as England's Elizabethan period but became a very popular item in the 1700s as it's demand increased. In approximately 1760 it became very desirable in France as a substitute for "donated" and hidden jewelry when Louis XV "requested" his subjects donations for funding a war. France and Switzerland even had laws regulating who could wear diamonds and precious metals. Steel cut jewelry became a very popular and stylish item that could be worn by all classes of society. Josiah Wedgwood (Wedgwood-England) was even approached to manufacture jasperware to use as focal points in steel cut jewelry. This combination resulted in a beautiful and unique style of jewelry that even the Victoria Albert Museum considers a part of jewelry history. I have seen a photo of a circa 1810 Wedgwood/steel cut buckle in their collection. Steel cut jewelry remained popular until the late nineteenth century. But due to new forms of machinery & mass manufacturing techniques changes occurred that were not better for the industry. The original fifteen facets per stud was reduced to only five facets and whole strips were stamped out by machine instead of individually faceted. The look changed, quality deteriorated and demand began to decrease with the late Victorian pieces having nowhere near the quality or beauty of the earlier pieces. Regretfully due to its high corrosion factor steel cut jewelry has not survived the hands of time as well as it's precious metal cousins. So we are very pleased to be able to offer this lovely example for sale.
Item ID: 134
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