17th July – 28th Sept 2008

Antique meets Contemporary

Turquoise enamel, gold, pearl and diamond ring with 'Forget-Me-Not' engraved, c1880 - £950.
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About Us



Romantic gesture: Greek stories linked every flower to a love, tragedy or triumph.
Interest in flowers really started at the end of the C16th with the opening in Paris of a garden by Jean Robin. Plants were really intended to act as designs for embroidery designs.
Henry IV then bought the garden and renamed it “Jardin du Roi”
Early C17th flowers engraved on plaques
Mid C17th backgrounds pierced so that flowers were enhanced.
Around 1634 the Tulip dominated amongst sunflowers, roses, hyacinths, lilies. Arranged in garlands or festoons.
Reminiscent of garlands by the wood carver Grinling Gibbons.

C18th saw flowers being represented in diamonds as the cutting of diamonds progressed.
Sprays of flowers were particularly popular.
Very stylised

Bourbon Monarchy in France restored in 1814 and was important to the popularity of floral jewellery. Made use of the development of diamonds cuts to produce very elaborate designs.
By middle of century spray brooch perfected and extremely popular.
1851 Great Exhibition in London – spray brooch very popular.

1866 “LV” published the “Language of and Sentiment of Flowers”
1869 “Young Ladies Journal “ published their own book on the subject of flowers and what they mean.

Animals in Jewellery
Snake – guardian spirit or symbol of eternity
Coiled with tail in mouth – reminder of eternity
Queen Victoria chose an emerald set Serpent for a betrothal ring
Rings would have single or double heads
Often gem set
Bracelets and Necklaces would coil just like a serpents/snakes tail
Often pave set with turquoise – another symbol of snakes due to the poison and the fact that turquoise returns to its natural state of matrix – ie veined

King Charles Spaniel used a lot in Roman times – pampered and aristocratic dog.

Many Interpretations were made from the Renaissance onwards about what stones represented.
Emerald ensured hope
Ruby – passion
Diamond - Love
Sapphire was seen as cooling, a coolness for worldly pleasures
Turquoise indicated the presence of poison or illness by changing colour. (in its natural state it is green with various black and brown veining. When polished veining disappears and the stone turns to turquoise blue)

Napoleon and Josephine as well as Queen Victorian were obsessed with the language of stones. The initials of stones would form devices ie expressing a message, word or name. For example REGARD was made up of ruby, emerald, garnet. Amethyst, ruby and diamond. The French were particularly obsessed with the play on words particularly in the 1820s and 30s and again in the 1880s.


For Art Nouveau jewellery, the use of the female form expressed two different aspects of womanhood. Woman and the female body corresponded with the theme of nature bursting with new life. Whereas, images of struggling winged females reflected the hard won emancipation of woman and her changing role in society. By 1900 there was a recurrence of a passionate and sensual woman, which was in contrast to the corseted and very prim figure of the C19th. The pre-Raphaelite woman was mysterious and dreamy yet strong and heroic. They had a classical look about them through long flowing hair and floating gowns. Expressions were distant and yearning with an underlying sexuality and sensuality. This became a popular look in jewellery. Also the female form, clothed or nude clearly expressed the freedom of the new movement.

Now & Then runs from 17th July to 28th September 2008. Salts Mill is open weekdays from 10am – 5.30pm and weekends 10am – 6pm. For further information call 01274 599790.

Artists taking part in Artists taking part in Sentiment & Sex are: Kelvin Birk; Georg Dobler; Adam Paxon.
Sentiment & Sex Antique pieces. Other themes: Memento Mori ; Power & Politics; The Lighter Side.