Behind the scenes at Adorn, there is the constant ping of a Skype alert or a Twitter mention which links me to all those that contribute to Adorn and they like me are all passionate about jewellery. When I asked each of them to send a picture of their favourite vintage jewel with its story, I was amazed at how prominently sentimental jewels featured and how, for so many of us, our grandmothers’ jewels are the ones that stand out as our favourites… We get up close with Adorn’s contributors who reveal their favourite vintage jewels.
SUZIE: WEB DESIGNER
1970s Pearl and Silver Ring
My father has exquiste taste in jewellery and has bought my mother the most beautiful, iconic pieces over the years. He bought this ring for my mom when I was born. They already had two young boys running riot at home, and so she received a very well deserved dishwasher as well. My design sensibility is drawn to the 60s and 70s, so I just love, love, love the sheer, unadulterated 70s-ishness of this ring.
1950s Silver Cuff
So it seems like Dad inherited his good taste in jewellery from my grandfather, who gave my grandmother this silver cuff on their Silver Wedding Anniversary. My gran had a great sense of style, was always well groomed and loved dressing up for any occasion. I have an old black and white pic of her having a picnic in the bundu, but wearing heels, which to me epitomises her ‘glamour at all costs’ attitude.
I love vintage pieces, but what a bonus when a piece of yours contains a bit of your own personal history!
As punctuation and paragraphs are more my bag than paste and pearls, I wasn’t sure I had any vintage jewellery, but I did recall sharing out my Nana’s jewellery with my sister and older cousins after her death. My Nana was a rather formal pillar of the local community and didn’t go in for bling, being born just after the end of the Victorian era, which this understated little number shows. It was black when I got it out of the drawer but a session in the silver dip has revealed a rather pretty little pattern surrounding the twinkly stone. I shall enjoy wearing it in her honour.
I’ve hung a pendant underneath it that similarly lightened nicely after a clean up: rose quartz – a souvenir from my father’s trip to the Scilly Isles when my other grandmother died. I don’t have any of her jewellery: superstition is rife in her family with regard to luck, both good and bad, being handed on with jewels…
LUCY ARCHIBALD: CONTRIBUTOR
Nothing beats the feeling of discovering and falling in love with a piece of vintage jewellery and bringing it back to life again! It’s fun to wear something with a story behind it, and which feels more idiosyncratic and original than the latest ‘must-have’ piece. My generous boyfriend gave me this wonderful vintage Christian Dior necklace as a gift, and I love it! It has a witty, Ab Fab quality about it, but can also look really chic and classic with a Breton top, blue blazer and jeans. I also wore it to be a pirate at a fancy dress party, with a Vivienne Westwood dress and a cavalier’s hat.
These beautiful beads were found by one of my best, and most intrepid friends – James. He is originally from South Africa and travels all over the continent sourcing wonderful, original things. The colours in these beads remind me of the palette used by the Bloomsbury group, a million miles away from Africa, in their interior decoration at Charleston House. James has plans to make his treasures available online soon, so watch this space…
KATHRYN BISHOP: CONTRIBUTOR
My own beloved vintage pieces aren’t the most sparkly or historical, in fact it’s their wearability which makes them ten times more special to me. First is my Great-Grandmother’s ring, inherited last year from my Nana. This simple band is the most gorgeous 22ct gold. Stamped inside are traditional hallmarks – nothing lasered – showing the ring was made in 1948 and hallmarked in Sheffield. But my favourite part is that the maker’s mark, which shows who the ring was made by, has the letters ‘KB’, my initials… And it fits perfectly, too!
My second favourite vintage piece was sneakily ‘borrowed’ from Mum, but luckily she let me keep it! Five or six years ago rummaging in her jewellery box, I came across two chunky silver ingots with ‘feature hallmarks’ engraved on the front. It turned out my parents bought themselves an ingot each back when they were dating. Putting one on a chunky 30" chain, I pop this necklace on and immediately feel its weight and history. The marks shows the ingots were made in 1977 – the Queen’s Silver Jubilee – the same year that the date mark was represented by the letter ‘C’, and with my mum being called Claire it completes the lovely story behind it.
ANNA MORTIMER: CONTRIBUTOR
My grandfather was a Captain in the Merchant Navy working and travelling the Baltic Seas. He was away at sea for many weeks of the year leaving my Grandmother to bring up their three children. As for many families in the 1930s and 40s, money was scarce but my Grandmother always dressed as well as she could afford. This brooch was a present to her from my Grandfather brought back from his travels. It is made of silver and marcasite. I remember as a small child that she wore it pinned to a blouse practically every day and that I loved to see it sparkle at her throat. When she died, my Mother gave it to me as a keepsake and indeed I can see her clearly in my mind’s eye whenever I wear it myself.
ELISA SETTINI: CONTRIBUTOR (NEW YORK)
This vintage Leru necklace is a very special piece in my collection because it almost wasn’t mine. I had first seen it at the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show last October and was enamored with its intricate bead work. I spent a good while pondering whether or not I should purchase it but ultimately I left it behind. I didn’t come to this decision on my own, however, I was talked out of buying it by another shopper, who purchased it the minute I walked away. I left that day feeling irritated with myself for not realizing what the woman had been up to. From then on I began diligently searching ebay for my beloved necklace until several months later I finally found it! To my delight I purchased it for half the price of what I would have paid had I made a different decision that day.