tirsdag den 17. februar 2015

Combining Gold and Silver Jewelry in One Outfit

Fashion trends evolve constantly and rules for combining different garments change quite often. Oddly enough, they usually involve only female fashion, while male style stays almost intact. One of the great questions in female style and fashion is matching pieces in the outfit. In the course of the twentieth century there were many periods when matching the part of the look was really important. Such rules included, for instance, matching the handbag with the footwear or matching lipstick with nail polish. Right now none of those are followed anymore, moreover, it is considered rather unstylish to match a purse and shoes.

The same goes for jewelry. For many decades wearing pieces of matching metal was not a discussable question. In some periods of time wearing set of jewelry, where earrings, necklace, bracelet and ring had the same design and decoration, was fashionable. When such trend passed, the rule for wearing pieces made of the same metal stayed intact. If you were to wear a statement piece in gold, then the rest of the jewelry garments should have been gold, too. The same would go for silver.

But the time when matching jewelry was important passed, and now wearing silver and gold pieces together is totally acceptable. Moreover, wearing pieces made of different metals is considered fashionable. So, do not hesitate and combine silver and gold jewelry in one look.

There are different ways of combining gold and silver jewelry in your outfit. The most common one is wearing pieces which complement your outfit no matter what they are made of, silver and gold. The other way is wearing the same type of jewelry in different colors. For instance, you can combine gold and silver rings on one hand, gold and silver bracelets on one wrist or multiple earrings in different metals if your ears are pierced several times. This way you will achieve a modern look with an edgy touch.

Another way of combining different metals is wearing jewelry which is made of combined metals. You can find a lot of jewelry made of combined yellow, white and rose gold; sterling silver and gold plated pieces, and so on. Such pieces will look great with any other jewelry you are wearing.

tirsdag den 10. februar 2015

How to Check If Your Silver Is Genuine

When you buy silver garments from trusted retailers, you will get a certificate of authenticity together with your purchase. The silver piece will also have a stamp saying what is the silver content in the garment. The most common stamp is 925, which indicates sterling silver (92.5% of pure silver in the garment). The pure silver garments do not exist as silver itself is a very soft metal, which can't be used for manufacturing on its own. Some garments might also have another stamp which will indicate the brand of the piece. It can be a picture, a sign or initials.

But it is not always when you buy new silver garments from official retailers. Sometimes you buy used or pieces at thrift stores, garage sails or charity shops. In this case, certificates are usually missing, unless it is a very valuable antique piece. Some old pieces might laso lack stamping, which does not necessarily mean that they are not made of real silver. It can happen because the stamping can wear of or not be there from the beginning (for example, is the piece come from the country where stamping is not obligatory).

In this case, you might want to test your silver piece to find out if it actually has any value. There are many ways of doing it, and the easiest is to bring your piece to a pawnshop or a silversmith and ask to find out the value of it. You can also do it yourself at home, and the majority of such tests are pretty reliable.

The most reliable test you can perform is a chemical analysis test. You will need a special kit for it, which you can purchase online. Follow the instructions to perform the test and get results. Bear in mind, that in this case you will have to scratch the surface of the piece, so choose a spot on the back of your garment, where it  won't be noticeable.

There are also tests which involve simple techniques. For example, you can test your silver piece by testing its' magnetic qualities. For the best results, use a strong magnet. As silver has weak magnetic qualitites, it shouldn't stick to the magnet.

You can also use bleach to test your silver garment. To perform it, simply put a small drop of bleach on your silver piece. It the spot where you applied bleach will turn dark (tarnishes), then the item is made of silver. You can also rub some chalk on your silver garment (chalk will turn dark if silver is genuine) or drop iodine, reaction will be the same as with bleach. Keep in mind that it is harder to wash off iodine, so if possible, choose other methods.


onsdag den 28. januar 2015

Sterling silver and why is it so popular in jewelry manufacturing

Sterling silver is probably the most common material for jewelry production nowadays. There are jewelry garments in all styles and price categories made of sterling silver. But what is it that makes producers to choose sterling silver as their main material for jewelry?

Firstly, let's look at what the name of sterling silver has in itself. If translated from ancient Greek, stereos (transformed into sterling) means solid. It is not true though, as sterling silver consists of only 92.5% of pure silver, and the rest is made up of different material, usually copper. It is node made to trick consumers into thinking that they are buying pure gold when they don't, it has a more important reason behind it. Pure silver itself is a very soft material, and there is no point in using in in production of any items as it will be damaged quickly. On contrary, when silver is melted together with another metal, it becomes sturdier without losing much of it's flexibility. It means that sterling silver gamrents, when made using right technologies and using high quality material, will be less prone to damages and will last their owners for decades and even generations (remember silver cutlery, holloware and flatware which was passed for many generations).

This way, sterling silver became the most popular material due to its' outstanding qualities. Sterling silver is not only used on its' own, but is also improved by plating with different metals. It is made for different reasons, one of them being that silver items are prone to tarnish, so they have to be contantly cleaned to maintain their polished finish. Instead, if silver is plated with another metal, it will never tarnish. Another reason for plating silver is achieving look of more expensive metals, such as gold and platinum, without having to make an item of solid gold, which would be too expensive. Among different types of plating the most popular ones are gold plating and rhodium plating.

Gold plating can be of different colors, like yellow, rose or white gold, and rhodium gives silver a highly polished look and makes it to remind of platinum. Plating can be of different thicknesses, which will of course affect both the price and durability of the garment. But when plating is done well, it will last you long no matter how thin it is. In any case, you can always bring your jewelry to a trusted goldsmith and have it replated again.

More about jewelry in Danish at http://smykketemp.wix.com/smykker

mandag den 26. januar 2015

Georg Jensen, a Danish silversmith which turned into world-wide known brand

Georg Jensen was born in 1866, and when his family recognized hiw interest in art and sculpture, he started working as an apprentice to a goldsmith in Copenhagen as well as attending a technical school. He spent his young years modelling from clay and sculpturing, and at some point we was granted admission into Royal Academy of Arts, from which he graduated at the age of 25.

Even thought one of his sculpture works was exhibited at Charlottenborg annual exhibition, he never became a famous sculptor. Instead, the need ogf supporting his family, which consisted of his wife and two children, made him to turn to pottery making. It didn't bring a big income, but the family could survive. Later, when Jensen's wife died, and pottery making business didn't lead to any success, Georg Jensen was encouraged to exhibit one of his pottery pieces at The Free Exhibition, which was an annual event where alternative artists were presented. Jensen's "The Maid on the Jar" got positive reviews from critics when exhibited at the World's Trade in Paris.

When he returned to Denmark, he decided to open his own workshop, where he focused of crafting silver jewelry. He wanted to create every day objects with personal touch, as he disapproved mass-production items. He chose to make silver jewelry because silver was an inexpensive material and selling jewelry would provide a bigger margin than selling household items. It also required a lot sell space for storage.

In his jewelry style he often followed Art Nouveau principles, combining natural motives, which included leaves, flowers and other organic patterns. He used natural semi-precious stones for decoration and every piece was one of its' kind. He made a lot of brooches, earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets. He concentrated on making unique pieces of exceptional quality and attention to details.

He also collaborated with other artists and sculptors, which made his success to grow even bigger. Over the years he succeded not only as a jewelry maker, but also as a producer of silver household items. He worked with many talanted designers who created plenty of unique designs, which were praised all over the world.

Contemporary design silver jewelry at http://www.spiriticons.com

torsdag den 22. januar 2015

Harald Slott-Møller, another Skonvirke fundamentalist

Harald Slott-Møller was born in 1864 and after training at Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, began his painting career. He received recognition shortly, and some time later he decided to take his ideas into decorative arts, too. He designed many ceramic items, but he was more passionate about jewelry.

He was one of the first jewelry designers who strove for a lot of decorative elements of different kinds, including precious and semi-precious stones, colored enamel, ivory and pearls. He used silver and gold for his jewelry, which together with the uniqueness of the garments (evry piece was one of it's kind) made it really expensive. In terms of themes, which his jewelry was inspired by Reneissance artists and their motives in painting and sculpture.

He designed truly unique garments, which weren't always accepted and liked by the publicity. He was critised a lot for using excessive decoration and many bright colors. Nevertheless, the fact that he made his jewelry himself, only taking silversmiths' help for difficult part of the work and fine settings was appereciated. It was inherited from Arts and Crafts movement, which originated in Britain some time before that.

Another life achievment of Harald Slott-Møller was founding of Den Frie Udstilling (The Free Exhibition) exhibition in Copenhagen. It is still open now and works of contemporary artists, who are less prone to be appreciated by the critics, are exhibited there. Every year in Autumn Den Frie Udstilling holds a exhibion, where anyone can take part in by submitting works to the comission, which consists of artists, who were exhibited there earlier.

tirsdag den 20. januar 2015

Skønvirke Jewelry, or Danish Art Nouveau

As I have mentioned before, skønvirke style appeared as a Danish interpretation of European Art Nouveau style in design and architecture. Common skønvirke features were floral patterns and design, organic shapes and natural curved lines. Skønvirke jewelry was usually made of silver and decorated with natural semi-precious stones as well as colored enamel.

The moral aspect behind skønvirke movement was the desire to go away from cheap bad quality mass produced jewelry and providing well made pieces for affordable price. This way, silversmiths tried to come up with a balance between quality and price, while providing unique jewelry garments.

Many Danish designers and artists followed the skønvirke movement, but there was one special person, who formed Danish silver style of the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Thorvald Bindesbøll (born in 1846) was an educated architect, but it never became his main occupation and source of income. We was interested in literature and translating, as well as arts. He developed passion for designing while travelling around Europe. At first he was designing ceramic pottery, as well as seldom pieces of furniture and books, but later he was influenced by Arts and Crafts movement, which originated in England in 1880's.

Thorvald Bindesbøll started designing a large amount of sketches for jewelry in skønvirke style. His jewelry had natural forms, and repeated shapes of flowers and plants. It was often decorated with colorful enamel or semi-precious stones. Because of the fact that Thorvald Bindesbøll didn't receive silversmith training himself, he had to cooperate with silvermiths to convert his designs from sketches into tangible items. The first silversmith who he worked with was Anton Michelsen, but the stongest connection was developed between Thorvald Bindesbøll and Holger Kyster, who also became artist's friend. Together they led Thorvald Bindesbøll's design ideas to success.

Thorvald Bindesbøll declined offers of mass producers and prefered for his jewelry to be hand made by trusted silversmiths. He strived for a personal touch to his garments and was insisting on the technique where traces of smithinjg were visible. His favourite motives were flower ornaments and other organic shapes such as sea shells and waves.

After Thornvald Bindesbøll's death in 1908, Holger Kyster proceeded to produce jewelry by Bindesbøll's sketches as well as jewelry, inspired by his overall style.

mandag den 19. januar 2015

Art Nouveau Jewelry in Denmark

Art Nouveau was a style in decorative arts, popular between 1890 and 1910 in Europe. In French "Art Nouveau" means "new art",  and its' typical features are ornamets with plants and flowers as well as curved, natural forms. Artists wanted to achieve harmony with nature in their creations.

Art Nouveau style was applied to every exisiting type of creative work, not only decorative items, painting and sculpture, but also to architecture, furniture and household items. Art Nouveau was especially popular in Western and Northern Europe, although it was spread all over the world.

In Denmark Art Nouveau style was localized and given name "skønvirke", which means "aesthetic work". In Denmark skønvirke style wasn't applied in architecture, but was widely applied in designing of smaller household items and especially jewelry. The majority of skønvirke style jewelry was made in sterling silver. It was a beautiful connection between cold and hard metals and  and natural, organic and floral shapes.

But it's not only sterling silver which was used in skønvirke jewelry. Enamel and semi-precious gemstones were used widely for the first time in history of Danish jewelry tradition. The main reason behind it was goldsmiths' willingness to design affordable jewelry, which anyone could buy. Another reason for using such unuasual for that time materials was the desire for bright colors, which both semi-precious stones and colored enamel could provide. This was it was possible to make very bright and naturalistic jewelry pieces in shapes of leaves, flowers, and so on.

Many skønvirke style jewelry designers were people, who were trained for arts and crafts, for instance painters. Having that kind of skills together with goldsmithing skills was important at that time, as the artists started working not only with precious metals, but also with colors, making their creations bright and outstanding.

At that time Danish Museum of Decorative Art was established, which encouraged artists to exhibit their works, which inspired other artists. The museum's collection was expanded by works of various French and English artists, and it influenced Danish designers a lot.

Even now, hundred years later, Danish jewelry garments from skønvirke period are valuable among collectors all over the world due to the sophisticated style and original taste for jewelry.

As skønvirke represent a very important period in the development of Danish design, the following posts will be dedicated to the most famous Danish goldsmiths and designers of skønvirke epoch. Stay tuned!