The Edwardian Age was a time of handsome style, great socio-political rumblings, and the last few years of innocence before The Great War and the turbulent decades to follow. This week, we'd like to share a few offerings from the Edwardian cufflink collection at LEO Design.
The English cufflinks shown here are made of "Blue John," a rare semi-precious gemstone found in just one region of England—in the Blue John Cavern, under Treak Cliff in Castleton, Derbyshire, England. Blue John is a form of banded "fluorspar" with alternating purple/blue and yellow/white layers. It is believed that the name comes from the French term "Bleu-Jaune" (that is, "Blue-Yellow," a reference to the banded coloration). Even today, scientists have not figured-out what causes the unique and beautiful coloration.
It is uncertain when the first veins of Blue John were discovered in Derbyshire, but the first record of mining the rare stone comes from a letter in 1766 (making reference to the leasing of the mines). Initial quarrying provided enough Blue John to make a few rare fireplaces, large urns and some wall plaques. By the Nineteenth Century, Blue John was highly-treasured as a material for interior decor, sculpture and other objets d'art—though it was always known to be difficult and expensive to find, especially in large pieces. In time, mining output was reduced to a trickle. Today, very little is still mined and only small objects (like jewelry and other trinkets) can be made. A new vein was discovered in 2015 (the first in 150 years). Nevertheless, all output is kept in the village of Castleton where it is finished into small souvenirs and sold to visitors.
After mining, Blue John must be air-dried for a full year, after which it can be heated in a kiln and placed into liquefied resin (now epoxy) which fills-in the stone's pores. This "resining" treatment allows the stone to endure the cutting, grinding and polishing of the finishing process.
These English cufflinks are fashioned of four diamond-form lozenges of Blue John set into silver mounts. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
More Edwardian cufflinks tomorrow.
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