JOURNAL — Jewelry RSS



Serious Charm

Tangible items accrue even more relevance during times of drama, uncertainty or an encounter with life-and-death anxiety.  A simple token can become an emotional lifeline when one's beloved is in peril—and may never return alive. Such was the case for hundreds of millions of people—spouses, children, parents and friends—who sent a loved one (usually a young man) off to fight in World War One.  70 million soldiers fought.  10 million soldiers died (alongside another 10 million civilians killed).  20 million people sustained serious physical injury.  And we are still coming to terms with the extent of the emotional trauma the war inflicted. This French "Sweetheart Bracelet" might have been given by a young soldier to his girlfriend or wife.  It is a collection...

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Vive la France

Today is Bastille Day—called Fête nationale in French—the annual celebration commemorating the Storming of the Bastille in 1789.  The Bastille was a fortress in Paris in which political enemies were sometimes held—often unjustly and simply at the whim of the King.  The Storming of the Bastille, during which some of the King's political prisoners were liberated, is a major landmark in the French Revolution, a struggle which ended the country's monarchy.  14 July is still celebrated today as one of France's most important "historic" holidays, perhaps comparable to 4 July in the States.  There are parties, parades, a great deal of pageantry and showy displays of military power.  And lots of Red, White and Blue. Another treasured symbol of those who fought for Liberté, egalité...

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Perfect with a Tan

If you must dress-up during the summer, why not take advantage of the season?  Imagine this handsome pair of English Art Deco cufflinks, fastening a crisp, light-blue shirt, against a perfectly summer-tanned wrist.  The mother-of-pearl irises will certainly "pop" while the blue tone of the surrounding color will be pulled forward.  And the golden settings will certainly add its own measure of summer warmth.

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More Stately Charm

Here's another handsome brooch, this time Scottish.  It features a polished banded agate cabochon in multiple shades of browns and whites.  It is set into a silver mount, lapel pin attached.  It has almost an "abstract expressionist" sensibility—remarkable considering that the stone itself may be a million years old.

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Creamy, Dreamy

I don't really go-out on the hunt for women's jewelry very often.  But, while I'm searching for cufflinks, I sometimes come across a handsome piece of women's jewelry (often Victorian or Edwardian) that really speaks to me.  No one would accuse me of selecting "girly" pieces.  In fact, there is often a "stately handsomeness" to the pieces of women's jewelry I collect.  This usually means serious (perhaps solemn) stonework and metalwork that revives the Gothic.  Queen Victoria spent almost 40 years of her reign as a widow, and she wore dark and heavy mourning wear from her husband's passing in 1861 until her death in 1901.  She set the fashion trends for her fellow countrywomen, especially the aristocracy.  Thus, luckily for...

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Welcome, June!

The birthstone for the month of June is not a "stone" at all.  It is the pearl—the mysterious and exotic and (at one time) ultra-rare treasure from the seas. Pearls, which represent purity, innocence and humility, were once the most precious of all the jewels.  Egyptian aristocrats would be buried with their pearls.  The Ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the tears of the gods. The Bible tells of the wise merchant who would sell all his stock in order to acquire one perfect pearl.  And "pearls before swine" is a classic metaphor for wasting something on a person who cannot understand or appreciate it.  Even the Gates of Heaven are encrusted with pearls—"The Pearly Gates."  The famous American gemologist...

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Accessories for the Natural Man - XVIII

An understated white-speckled brown enamel inhabits one corner of these English Art Deco cufflinks from the 1930's.  Directly across the face, the chromed metal is broken into two fields: one is textured while the other is smooth.  In the center, running diagonally between the fields is a cream enameled bar.  Lots of activity and lots of motion make for a dynamic design, quite unlike any other cufflinks.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - XVII

Here's another handsome pair of English Art Deco cufflinks.  This time, the face of the cufflink is bisected with a deep furrow, slashing-though the color blocks of brown and white enameling.  And while the coloration of the enamel is understated, the visual effect is nonetheless bold.  Made in the Thirties in England.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - XV

Art Deco was vastly popular—and it lived a good long life.  After World War One, Americans (and others) felt that they were now living in a new, modern world.  They embraced the streamlined, forward-looking aesthetics of the Art Deco movement.  And, luckily, Art Deco was perfectly suited for the kind of mass production that was necessary to make a lot of new stuff to satisfy a growing, post-war middle class. These English Art Deco cufflinks are chromed and then punctuated with chocolate and cappuccino enameling.  If you want, you can imagine that the graphic symbolizes "V for Victory"—though, in truth, these cufflinks were made a few years before the war touched-down in England.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - XIV

The crisp, bold graphic on these cufflinks—presented in unusual rootbeer and taupe enameling—makes me think of the "V" in "Victory."  It's easy to see victory everywhere, especially in hindsight, when looking at something English from the Thirties or Forties.  But British victory in the war was never a certainty.  World War Two was fought hard and long—and the British paid dearly for their win. As for these cufflink graphics, they were probably made well before England entered the war (or even before there was a war).  So I guess I'm just being a romantic, or, perhaps, fanciful.  What is true is that these cufflinks are quite unique, especially regarding their coloration, and they do enjoy a strong and handsome graphic design....

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Accessories for the Natural Man - XII

Though I purchased these cufflinks in London, I have never been convinced that they were made in England. Something about the "large stone" slightly fascist design hinted at an Eastern European (or Soviet Bloc) origin.  They are set in Art Deco mounts—indicating that they are from the Thirties—a period when such "Brutalist" stonework was not really en vogue in the British Isles.  In this regard, they are just slightly ahead of their time.  (Big-stone cufflinks became popular after World War II, even more so in the Sixties and Seventies). Regardless of the time or place of creation, one must admit that the banded agate is simply beautiful.  Caramels, whites and rootbeer colors form spontaneous streaks of stone—which was then cut, bevelled, polished...

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Accessories for the Natural Man - XI

The Scots love their stones!  From the rusticated architectural building-blocks in Edinburgh to the inlaid agates in their "Penannular" shawl-fasteners.  And what seems to be important isn't whether the gemstone itself is valuable in the eyes of the world but, rather, is the stone colorful, beautiful, and Scottish in origin.  Like so many things Scottish, the best things come from the land.  My favorite things in Scotland are hard, durable and weather-beaten.  After all, this is a country represented by the thistle—a wiry, spiky and tenacious plant which clings to life in the rocky, cold and windswept mountain terrain. These cufflinks, made in the 1920's, are fashioned from oval cabochons of polished "hardstone"—mostly oxblood, with a dose of brown, and...

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Accessories for the Natural Man - X

We're spending a few days showcasing some accessories "for the Natural Man"—cufflinks in the subtle, low-key shades of brown, rust, cream, black and white.  You'll find them (and many others) for sale on the LEO Design website. These black mother-of-pearl cufflinks are ultra-iridescent—the "highlight colors" are lush and varied.  They are set into gold-plated mounts and you can learn more about them by clicking on the photo above.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - IX

In the 1930's, functional graphics in England took on a particular look—clear, soft, round—and one can see great examples of this in vintage enameled railway signage from the period.  Sometimes the signage was in brown, sky blue or green, giving the signage a "softer" more natural appearance.  This contrasts with American signage of the period which was often red, yellow, orange, black or white—meant to "pop" not "complement" the surroundings.  Furthermore, many of the signs were produced with rounded corners which served to soften the sign's appearance even more.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - VIII

Tracery is most often associated with Gothic architecture—for example the lacey, carved-stone windows in a church (usually filled with stained glass) or pierced woodwork (including trefoils and quatrefoils) that decorates the interior. These Art Deco cufflinks, while they make no pretense to Gothic style, have metallic tracery overlays which are derivative of the Medieval style.  The gilt metalwork lies upon mother-of-pearl faces and are set into gilt (that is, lightly gold-plated) mountings.  Click upon the photo above to learn more about them.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - VII

This pair of goldstone cufflinks is as "flashy" as we will get this week.  In truth, "goldstone" is not a stone at all; it is a glass carrying suspended copper crystals which create a sparkling, metallic optical effect. For centuries, goldstone was believed to have been invented in Venice by the Miotti family of glassmakers. In the 1600's, the Venetian Doge granted the family an exclusive license to produce goldstone. More recently, a Persian amulet (dating from the 12th or 13th century) has been discovered, showing that goldstone had been produced elsewhere and earlier.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - VI

At first glance, these cufflinks seem to have very little decoration to them. But, upon closer inspection, there is quite a bit of subtle detail work which adorns them. First, they are crafted in an interesting, modernist "lozenge" shape—essentially a soft rectangle. Then the centers are etched with very fine diagonal lines. The end quarters are etched with a contrasting crosshatch effect. Finally, two of the corners are "dipped" into brown enameling, giving the piece an interesting "twisting energy." But all of this is only appreciated by someone who takes the time to study and understand the cufflinks.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - V

Toledo is an ancient city in Central Spain, about 45 miles south of Madrid. In Medieval times, it was known as a place where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together (for better or worse), with each group contributing art, architecture and cuisine to create a rich, blended culture.  But long before this, Toledo made its mark as the place where the finest forged-steel swords were made.  Metalsmiths in Toledo invented a technique of forging hard and soft steels together, creating swords that were strong and flexible.  From 500 BC, the Romans discovered that they wanted their weapons from Toledo.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - IV

Every now and then, a customer will want to buy a pair of cufflinks for a young man. Sometimes he's about to graduate from high school or university.  Or, perhaps, he's been invited to his first dressy function.  This will be the young man's first pair of cufflinks—and the shopper asks for a little advice. White mother-of-pearl cufflinks are the most neutral and one can never go wrong wearing them with black tie or a dinner jacket.  But white (dressy) mother-of-pearl cufflinks always exude a formal disposition—and a man with his first (and only) pair of cufflinks may want to be able to wear them with other shirts, on other occasions.  In this case, I always recommend black mother-or-pearl.

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Accessories for the Natural Man - III

Many people assume that the "repp" in "Repp Stripe" refers to the repeating pattern of distinctive, colored stripes often shown in ties or foulards. In truth, "repp" refers to the repeating tiny ribs woven into the silk fabric from which the ties are made (regardless of the color pattern). In the Medieval age, groups of knights would enter battle wearing distinctive heraldic colors or carrying flags which indicated the fighting team to which they belonged.  Repp stripes are an evolution of this idea, adopted by (originally male) groups to distinguish themselves from other groups: schools, military regiments, social clubs, sports teams. Customized striped patterns and colors would be adopted as the "modern heraldry" of a specific group, usually woven into...

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Accessories for the Natural Man - II

These understated Soviet cufflinks (hallmarked 1921 to 1958) are made of jasper—the opaque, highly polishable stone that comes in shades of brown, red, yellow or green.  Jasper has been used as a coveted gemstone for millennia. Official seals made of carved jasper (used for authorizing or sealing documents), dating from 1800 BC, have been unearthed in the Minoan Palace of Knossos in Crete. Large pieces of jasper have also been crafted into boxes, urns, sculpture and architectural elements like the balustrades on a grand staircase. The metal mountings on these Soviet cufflinks are silver which has been plated in a gold "vermeil." 

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Accessories for the Natural Man - I

Some men like to keep things understated.  No flash.  No bling.  For them, we present a collection of "natural accessories"—cufflinks in decidedly "earthy" shades: brown, rust, black, cream and white (plus silver and gold). Call it an "Homage to the Seventies" or a solution for the modest mate.  Find these cufflinks for the Natural Man on our website at LEO Design. Art Deco was a large and widely popular design movement.  It conveyed "a modern feel," in keeping with the modern times after World War I.  It was well-suited to mass production methods, necessary to satisfy a growing middle class with new-found leisure time and increasing disposable income (in contrast to earlier movements which required much more labor-intensive "handcraft").  And the Art Deco...

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Cuffed

I am an avid shopper for cufflinks—traveling around the world, perusing the collections of private collectors and vintage jewelry merchants.  I do not go out of my way to seek-out women's jewelry, though, in truth, I stumble across a lot of it while inspecting cufflinks.  When I see a piece I like, I will often pick it up. This English Arts & Crafts hand-hammered pewter cuff is punctuated with three jade glass cabochons.  This type of craftwork was popular in the British Arts & Crafts period, mostly creating pin-on brooches.  I have never seen another wrist cuff such as this.  Please click on the photo above to learn more about it.

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A Celtic Beauty

Celtic design—though extremely broad and highly varied—usually refers to the craft-like, graphic style of interlacing patterns and unbroken "plaited" (braided) designs.  Early Celtic artworks have been recovered as early as the Iron Age (which began approximately 800 BC) and, later, was highly influenced by Roman art and craftwork (especially tilework) during their occupation of the British Isles (beginning around 55 BC).  Centuries later, the British Arts & Crafts movement sought historic aesthetic sources to tap, thus freshening-up their design and reviving regional cultural pride.  Celtic patterns and graphics (from Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and Wales) provided an ample vein for designers seeking fresh inspiration.  (British Arts & Crafts designers also mined Medieval literature and Gothic handwork.) The brooch above, made in England in the 1910's, has a silver front, embellished...

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August is Here

August has arrived—the final lap (or two) of the summer.  And with it comes the month's birthstone, Sardonyx.  Sometimes popularly called "Agate," sardonyx is created with alternating irregular bands of two stones: "sard" and "onyx." It is most commonly found with bands of white and red (or brown) and sometimes the stone is artificially colored to enhance or change the coloration of the banding.  Sardonyx has always been popular in Scottish jewelry which itself (thanks to Queen Victoria) became popular throughout the rest of Victorian Britain and the Commonwealth. Ancient Egyptians, and, later, Romans, believed that sardonyx bestowed a protective quality upon its wearers.  Medieval English midwives used sardonyx to help relieve labor pains.  New Age adherents tell us that the stone...

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Just A Wee Bit More...

From the windswept—and ethereally beautiful—West Coast of Ireland lies the region of Connemara, which the Irish writer Oscar Wilde noted for its "savage beauty." Then name "Connemara" is derived from the Irish for "Inlets for the Sea." It is also the home of Connemara Marble—perhaps the rarest marble in the world. It is mostly green in color (naturally), and sometimes includes streaks of brown or grey and flecks of black. Connemara marble is formed when limestone is heated, under pressure. Some veins are 600 million years old. Although ancient objects (like 4000 year old ax heads) were made of the stone, it was not commercially quarried until 1822. Though Saint Patrick's Day was yesterday, I wanted to squeeze-in this precious...

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Hanukkah: Night Five

Reminiscent of Native American jewelry, this brooch and earrings suite is actually English from the Forties. Polished blue marble cabochons are fixed into late Art Deco settings. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.   Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).  We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com). Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248

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Welcome, December

The icy chill is here—and with it the final month of 2019. Welcome, December, and your birthstone, the turquoise. Turquoise has been mined for over 5,000 years—in Persia, the Sinai Peninsula, Mexico and the American Southwest.  Egyptians buried their dead with carved turquoise talismans carefully inserted within the deceased's body wraps. The Book of Exodus refers to the High Priest's turquoise encrusted breastplate.  And, in the New World, archeologists have found ancient turquoise artifacts of the Zuni, Pueblo, Aztec and Mayans. To this day, Native Americans from the American Southwest use turquoise in their exquisite silver jewelry. Worldwide, turquoise has long been believed to be a holy or lucky stone. The cufflinks shown here are not turquoise, but enameled with turquoise (and white) colored...

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Countdown to Mother's Day - part III

The windswept island of Iona, off the Western coast of Scotland, has a long (and sometimes mysterious) reputation as a place of remoteness, solitude and tranquility. Saint Columba founded a religious community here after arriving from Ireland in 563. From here, Christian missionaries moved further into Scotland. The island is the home of Iona Abbey, still a locus of monasticism and spiritual retreat. And Iona is considered (by many) one of those places that just feels holy—imbued with an intangible sense of spiritual energy.  The Scottish agate brooch, shown above, was made on the island of Iona. A red and white striped agate cabochon is mounted within a scrolling botanical setting of sterling silver. Please click on the photo above to...

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Simple Beauty

While Arts & Crafts artisans did appreciate beautiful materials, fine and expensive supplies were never a prerequisite.  Part of the Arts & Crafts philosophy was to let handsomely unadorned materials shine in their own simple ways.  Wood grains, hammered metals and functional joinery often became the most important embellishments of otherwise simple pieces.  The glazed ceramic cabochon, shown here, is just such an example.  Though set into a sterling silver mount, most of this brooch's appeal lies in the lovely and mysterious glazing upon the cabochon—which is, of course, the handwork of a talented craftsman.  It was made around 1910 and would look wonderful on the heavy winter lapel of a man or woman's winter coat.  Please click on the photo...

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Welcome December!

Welcome, December, and your birthstone, the Turquoise. The sublime blue-green stone has been mined and used decoratively for thousands of years although the modern(ish) name “Turquoise” dates back only to the 1600’s—from the French word “Turques” (after the “Turks” who first brought the stone to Europe from Persia).  Some of the oldest turquoise mining occurred in Persia […]

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When Art & Commerce Collide

American sculptor James Earle Frasier (1876-1953) was known for his handsome sculpture—including Native American themes and wild animals of the West.  He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  He was hired to re-design the Nickel, part of an on-going effort to "beautify" American currency.  Despite objections from coin-operated vending machine owners (who thought the coin was too easy to imitate with "slugs"), Frasier's "Indian Head" or "Buffalo Nickel" was minted starting in 1913.  Alas, the design proved difficult to "strike" crisply—and the bas relief design was prone to excessive wear from circulation.  In 1938, after the 25 year circulation requirement was met, the coin was replaced by the Jefferson nickel. The cufflinks...

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Birth of a Hero

On this day in 1854, Irish wit, playwright, bon vivant—and hero—Oscar Wilde was born. He is best known for his brilliant (and successful) late-Victorian “society” plays which include The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windemere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, and An Ideal Husband—plays which are still performed worldwide to this day. He wrote The Picture […]

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Malachite

Malachite has been used by artists and craftsmen for millennia—fashioned into jewelry (like the pin, above), carved into decorative objects, even ground-up and added to paints.  It is found in the Russian Urals, Africa, Australia, Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. Archeologists have found evidence of the stone being mined in Israel over 3000 years ago. […]

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Pancho Villa

One day ago, in 1878, José Doroteo Arango Arámbula was born in the small village of San Juan del Rio, Mexico.  He is best known by his nickname, Pancho Villa, and was a key figure in the Mexican Revolution which began in 1910.  Pancho Villa and his fighters supported Francisco Madero, an advocate of democracy […]

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English Armor

Shields serve a purpose: to protect its bearer from harm be it arrows, lances or clubs. Functional, utilitarian shields should be strong and light, making them portable and effective.  The less embellishment they have, the more practical they become.  With decorative dress shields, however, the goal is to impress—with wealth, style or military might.  Dress […]

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Queenly Substance

Until recently, England’s Queen Victoria had been the longest-reigning monarch in British history.  Some of England’s greatest achievements (and changes) have occurred under a woman’s crown. Each of the “Big Three” (Elizabeth, Victoria and Elizabeth II) enjoyed long reigns and it’s fascinating to contemplate how much the world (and their country) changed during the course […]

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Blue Agate

I’m always hunting for cufflinks at LEO Design; they are the perfect “Handsome Gift.”  But, as much as I enjoy hunting-down cufflinks,  I don’t want to ignore the women.  On my recent buying trip to England, I bought a dozen brooches—mostly Victorian and Edwardian pieces—which I hope will please the ladies (or the men who […]

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Welcome, May!

Welcome, May, and your birthstone: the Emerald! There are only four precious gemstones—and emeralds are one of them, making them highly valuable.  And because emeralds are so susceptible to flaws, a perfect emerald is extremely rare. For this reason, emeralds traditionally are graded with the naked eye (not high magnification) which creates a little extra tolerance for the beautiful green gem.  Like other gemstones, color is paramount; great emeralds have a deep, bright color.  But clarity is also very important—more so than with most other stones. Emeralds are a variety of Beryl and its green color is due to chromium "impurities" within the stone.  They were mined in Egypt as early as 1500 BC. They've also been found in the New...

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A Day for the Wearing of the Green

Top o’ the morning and a Happy St. Paddy’s Day to all! Though made in England in the 1920’s, this oval brooch is crafted of Irish Connemara marble from the windy Western coast of The Emerald Isle.  Its sterling silver setting—edged with a sharp, rope border—adds a crisp finish to the more-unfettered, creamy randomness of […]

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Handsome Jewels - part IV

Straddling the Arts & Crafts and Mid-Century Modern aesthetics, falls this handsome brooch and earring suite, made in England in the 1940's.   Blue marble cabochons are framed with bold silver settings.  The result: jewelry that is both soft and striking.  Click on the photo above to learn more about them.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed.  While we contemplate our next shop location, please visit our on-line store which continues to operate  (www.LEOdesignNYC.com). Follow us on Instagram: "leodesignhandsomegifts" Follow us on Facebook: "LEO Design - Handsome Gifts"  

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Handsome Jewels - part III

I've bought and sold many Scottish agate brooches (and pendants and cufflinks) over the years.  Usually, the compelling feature of any piece is the color, pattern and movement in the stone.  In the piece shown above, however, the stone is actually faceted with a complex web of triangles.  Not only does the beauty of the stone shine-through, but the light dances off of the face of the stone as it refracts off the various facets.  This adds an additional dimension to a handsome piece of jewelry.  Click on the photo to learn more about this piece—and see our full collection of jewelry while you're in the on-line store. More Handsome Jewelry tomorrow.   LEO Design's Greenwich Village store is now...

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Handsome Jewels - part II

Connemara is a village in beautiful, windswept Western Ireland.  Oscar Wilde called Connemara "a savage beauty." Under the scrub brush, Connemara Marble is quarried.  It was formed undersea some 600 million years ago and is amongst the rarest of marbles, due to its limited supply.  Creamy swirls of the green and white stone have decorated the the mantlepieces of the wealthiest Irish aristocracy as well as the floor of Galway Cathedral and the walls of the Senate Chamber in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.   The pin above, hallmarked Dublin, 1966, is set in sterling silver and will take one back to the rugged coast.  To learn more about this pin, please click on the photo above. More Handsome Jewelry tomorrow.   LEO...

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Handsome Jewels - part I

Throughout the summer and autumn, I've been traveling a lot, collecting "Handsome Gifts" for my customers' Holiday giving pleasure.  Finding jewelry, it seems, requires a bit of kismet.  I seem to stumble across nice pieces of jewelry while in the pursuit of something quite different.  The piece above is no different.  While perusing a case of silver flatware, I saw this lone brooch huddled in a corner.  I didn't buy the silverware—but I did come away with the brooch!  It was made in Victorian England and is hallmarked Chester, 1887. Though Prince Albert—Queen Victoria's beloved husband—had been dead for over 25 years, the Queen (and, thus, the Empire) was still in-mourning.  While women (including the Queen) did want to wear...

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Silver Dollars

I buy and sell a lot of jewelry, though it’s mostly of the male variety—and mostly cufflinks. So when I found this sweet sterling silver sand dollar pendant—made by a sculptor whose work I already carried—I thought, “Why not?”  It comes with a silver chain and could be worn year ’round.  Of course, it will […]

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Seeking Handsome Beauty

For at least the last 100 years, the adjective “Handsome” has been reserved only for describing men or masculine objects.  Prior to that, it was a frequently-used description for a certain type of woman, a woman of  sense and substance.  A “handsome woman” meant a female who was good-looking, yes, but also healthy and strong—clearly not […]

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Danish Silver

Occasionally, while hunting for cufflinks, I come across a piece of women’s jewelry which catches my eye.  As long as it’s affordable, more “handsome” than “fussy” and doesn’t involve sizes, I’ll sometimes buy it.  The example above, Danish Modernist from the 1960’s, has cabochons of onyx, milky quartz and moonstone set into a 925 sterling […]

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New English Receipts – part XIV

Before the age of instantaneous—and ceaseless—electronic communication, a token of loving remembrance was a welcomed and cherished gesture.  The little pin, pictured above, was just such a gesture.  Made in England in the first part of the Twentieth Century, it might have been given to a woman by her beau—perhaps to mark “the next step” […]

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New English Receipts – part XII

We sell a lot of men’s cufflinks at LEO Design.  They are the perfect “Handsome Gift” for stylish men.  They’re interesting, functional, and small enough to be easily transported. Furthermore, any man who collects cufflinks will appreciate a new, different and handsome pair to add to his collection. We’re asked—occasionally—if we sell jewelry for women. […]

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New English Receipts – part X

Wrist watches were invented as early as the Elizabethan period; history tells us that Queen Elizabeth received a wrist watch from “Her Special Subject” Robert Dudley in 1571.  It took a long time for them to catch-on, however, and it was mostly women who wore them—and few at that.  Men continued to wear pocket watches […]

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New English Receipts – part III

I collect a lot of cufflinks—and continued to do so on my recent trip to England (stay tuned, photos coming!).  In the course of hunting for these cufflinks, the occasional piece of women’s jewelry catches my eye.  It’s usually more “handsome” than frivolous and it often has a strong sculptural dimension.  I’m especially fond of […]

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Welcome January! Welcome the New Year!

The birthstone for January is the garnet, shown above in a 1920’s – 30’s Bohemian gold pendant. Although garnets—which encompass a range of different chemical structures—may be found in various hues, red is the color most-associated with the gemstone.  The name “garnet” may have been derived (over the centuries) from the word “pomegranate”—and, indeed, a […]

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Tie Clips and Tie Tacks

We’ve just acquired a small collection of nice tie bars and tie tacks from the 1930’s through the 1960’s.  Some have stones, like the moss agate option shown in front, above.  $35 – $75. They join our existing collection of necktie accessories and cufflinks, always a Handsome Gift.  Please come into the shop to see […]

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Victorian Gothic Revival

In the period of the Victorian English Gothic Revival—during which time the above brooch was made—architects, masons, ceramicists, and (yes) jewelers incorporated the aesthetic vocabulary of the Middle Ages into the design of their crafts.  The Gothic, in my opinion, was the high-point of the architectural profession.  Except, perhaps, for The Gothic Revival—which may have […]

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Scottish Agate

The Scots are so proud (and rightfully!) of their stones and they use them liberally in their jewelry and decorating.  Shown above, a Scottish variegated red agate brooch made during the Edwardian period. This is but one of the newly-acquired women’s brooches now in-store at LEO Design.  Please come into the shop to see the […]

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Scandinavian Carnelian

Though not English, I did buy this from a British collector in London.  It’s a Scandinavian Art Nouveau piece, not unlike Georg Jensen, where a carnelian cabochon lies atop a bed of stylized foliage.  Handsome and feminine. This is one of several women’s brooches I collected during my most recent buying trip to England.  Please […]

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Notes From the Road – part IX

Boy, I love the Gothic.  I think that Gothic building represents the high point of the architectural craft.  And Nineteenth Century Gothic Revival is right up there as well.  And so, naturally, I am drawn to the Gothic Revival in the decorative arts. Shown above, a quick snap of a piece I just bought: a […]

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Time and Tide…

“Time and Tide wait for no man.” Whether the phrase is Geoffrey Chaucer’s or not, it happens to be true.  Also true: tonight we must turn our clocks back. The watch, pictured above, is by Ole Mathiesen, Copenhagen.  It is part of the Mathiesen range of timepieces carried at LEO Design.  Please visit the shop […]

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A New Scots Queen

On this day in 1543, nine month old Mary Stuart was crowned Queen of the Scots.  She had inherited the throne at the age of six days—being the only legitimate surviving child of her father, James V of Scotland—and began a life of tumult and heartbreak.  Most of her childhood was spent in France, where […]

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