<![CDATA[DANIELLE OLIVIA TEFFT: JEWELRY WRITER & GIA ACCREDITED JEWELRY PROFESSIONAL - Found in the Jewelry Box Blog]]>Tue, 13 Feb 2018 23:59:54 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Mystery Marks: The Marsala Mark Looks Like CW When Upside Down]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 17:47:58 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/mystery-marks-the-marsala-mark-looks-like-cw-when-upside-down
By Danielle Olivia Tefft,  Jewelry Writer
Masala ring Treasure Box Antiques
A lovely Marsala sterling silver and marcasite ring from the 1980s.

Have you ever come across a piece of jewelry with a maker’s mark that you just can’t seem to find in any reference book or source? The mark of Marsala, a jewelry manufacturer in Ohio, might just be one of those puzzling marks.

The original Marsala Company mark looks like “C W” upside down. That’s because when properly oriented, it consists of an “M” with a backwards “C” next to it. Often, the “C” looks like a cursive writing flourish or tail on the “M” when the letters are close together. 

Marsala is a Columbus, Ohio based jewelry manufacturer that has been in business since 1987. They manufacture both costume and fine jewelry. The mark with the tail on the “M” was in use apparently until 2009. In 2009, the “M” and the “C” are clearly separated. Presumably, the mark stands for Marsala Company or Marsala Columbus.
Another pretty Marsala sterling silver and marcasite ring from the 1980s. (Courtesy Pinterest)

Before I uncovered this information, I spent countless hours searching for an elusive manufacturer with the mark of “CW”.  I am writing this article so that you don’t waste time doing the same! Below are photos of the sterling silver and marcasite ring mark that started my quest (The face of the ring is shown in the first photo of this post in a gift box.):
Marsala mark Treasure Box Antiques
Marsala ring with "MC" mark in correct orientation. Note that the "925" for sterling silver is upside down.
Marsala ring Treasure Box Antiques
The same ring with the "925" properly oriented. Now, the Marsala mark of "MC" looks just like "CW"!

Speaking of marcasite, did you know that it is really iron pyrite? You can read all about it in a past blog article here
Marsala earrings on original card from factory. (Courtesy Poshmark.com)

Also, Masala used a lot of marcasite (iron pyrite), especially in their antique style designs from the 1980s and 1990s. So don’t be fooled into thinking that you have an earlier piece from say, the 1920s or 1930s, if it has the Marsala mark.
Do you own a piece of Marsala jewelry? Vintage or new, please tell us about it in the comments section! Also, be sure to subscribe to this blog if you love jewelry like we do. You’ll get free access to my helpful jewelry reference library for subscribers!

​Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.

<![CDATA[Signature Seventies Jewelry]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 18:55:04 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/signature-seventies-jewelry
By Danielle Olivia Tefft

Author’s Note: Hi everyone! I apologize for the hiatus. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you missed it: Did the Pilgrims Wear Jewelry? Is a post I wrote a few years back you might enjoy right now.

If you rummage through as many old jewelry boxes as I have, you will undoubtedly identify with jewelry from the time period you grew up in. That’s how it is with me and jewelry from the 1970s. I can easily pick out these pieces, because my mother and my girlfriends and I all wore them!

This article is a trip down Memory Lane for me. I hope it helps you identify signature seventies jewelry the next time you come across any pieces in your treasure hunting travels.

One of the most iconic pieces of jewelry from the seventies was the mood ring. I think everyone had one at one time or another during the seventies. My friends and I had the cheaper versions that we bought with our allowance money or won at fairs. Even movie stars and other celebrities got swept up in the mood ring craze. Of course, their mood rings were genuine gold. I wrote an earlier blog article here on mood rings you might also enjoy.  

mood ring Treasure Box Antiques
A recent find, this mood ring reminds me of my beloved mood ring from the 1970s.

Anything and everything to do with daisies was huge in the seventies. Daisy brooches, pins, earrings, bracelets and necklaces were extremely popular.

Daisy jewelry Treasure Box Antiques
A leather daisy themed jewelry set from the 1970s.

The look of pure yellow gold was the rage in the 1970s. Genuine gold itself was extremely pricey. So most of us opted for the look in costume jewelry.

 Men and women were big, gold tone, plaque-like pendant necklaces like those from the 1960s but usually with less adornment. Gold Tone initial jewelry was huge, too. I have included a photo below of the gold tone “D” I wore throughout my 1970’s youthful days.

Script D Treasure Box Antiques
Costume jewelry gold tone script "D" pendant from the 1970s.
bold 1970s pendant necklace
Big, bold, gold tone pendant necklace from the 1970s.

1976 was America’s Bicentennial. So everyone wore patriotic jewelry that year to celebrate the event.  

Patriotic 1970's necklace
Patriotic big bold anchor pendant necklace from the 1970s.
Patriotic plastic beads
Patriotic plastic beads from the 1970s.

Pewter whimsical jewelry was popular. I was especially fond of pieces with a fairy theme.

Pewter Fairy Pendant
Pewter Fairy pendant from the 1970s.

Native American jewelry was a favorite in the 1970s, too. The most popular pieces were sterling silver rings featuring turquois. Also popular were Native American beaded bracelets and earrings.

Native American ring
Native American sterling silver and turquoise ring from the 1970s.
Back of same sterling silver ring from the 1970s.

Etched scrimshaw jewelry was popular during the seventies. Below is a photo of the scrimshaw ring my Dad gave to me when I was a girl.

I was and am a big animal lover. So I loved wearing this ring! I think the etching is a bobcat.

Scrimshaw ring Treasure Box Antiques
Scrimshaw (carved shell) ring my dad gave me when I was a girl.

Cloisonné was a very popular choice in the 1970s for jewelry, as well. Popular themes included butterflies and flowers.

Cloisonne butterfly Treasure Box Antiques
Cloisonne pieces were really popular in the 1970s.

Counter Culture or Hippy jewelry was also popular. Leather, wood, hemp were popular materials, especially in head bands, bracelets and belts. Popular themes of this jewelry included the peace sign and peacock feathers.

Peace ring Treasure Box Antiques
Peace ring from the 1970s.
Peacock feather earrings
Peacock feather earrings were popular in the 1970s.

Jade jewelry became very popular in the 1970s, as well. Americans loved its Oriental mystique and promise of good luck. My mother gave me a jade heart pendant necklace one year for my birthday. Inexpensive nephrite jade pieces could be found in every department store.

Jade cuff link tie tac set
This Dante cuff link and tie tac set from the 1970s features jade.

​I’m not saying some of these types of pieces weren’t popular other time periods. But if you come across an old jewelry box or rummage sale with several of these types together, the lot is most likely from the seventies. 

I hope you found this article entertaining and informative. What did I miss? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments section and subscribe to this blog if you enjoy reading about antique and vintage jewelry! 
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box AntiqueUS on Etsy. She is currently working on jewelry identification courses. When she is not working and writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to advertise on her website or blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for her media kit and more information.

<![CDATA[5 Biggest Gold Nuggets Ever Found]]>Wed, 19 Jul 2017 11:01:22 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/5-biggest-gold-nuggets-ever-found
By the editor of jewago.com/blog

The gold nugget was the first gold found by man in the ancient times. Generally, nuggets are sparkling stones of vivid yellow color. They are found in various sizes, as well.

Usually, gold nuggets have been found above ground, particularly near river banks, on the surface of desolate plains and other similar places. However, desiring to know more about gold nuggets, we will discuss the history of significant discoveries.

Historical records

Noteworthy gold nuggets are real rarity because surface stones hardly ever have considerable weight. Usually, they weigh a bit more than 100 grams. In fact, gold nuggets of significant weight were first discovered deep under the ground. Oftentimes, these buried nuggets could weigh several kilograms.

Throughout history, gold prospectors have found approximately 10,000 significant gold nuggets. The weight of every one of these significant nuggets has been at least 10 kilograms. And most of these nuggets have been melted down and used for different purposes such as:
  • Jewelry production;
  • Equipment manufacturing;
  • Other industrial purposes.
The historical discoveries of noteworthy gold nuggets are similar to that of historically noteworthy diamonds in that they are also given names and titles.

Moreover, most of these noteworthy gold nuggets are now in museums and private collections worldwide.

So, what are the most famous of them? 

Top 5 biggest nuggets

    1.   Holtermann Nugget. This great find was discovered in Australia in 1872. Strictly speaking, the Holtermann nugget wassn’t a pure gold nugget because it contained a considerable amount of quartz. Its overall weight was 286 kilograms while the amount of pure gold was 92 kg. 
      2.    Welcome Stranger. This fantastic gold nugget was discovered in Australia. Incredible fortune smiled upon two miners – John Deason and Richard Oates on 5 February 1869. They both worked in the area of the gold mining town Moliagul. John and Richard found the nugget acccidentally while pulling a stuck cart out of the mud. Their picks struck something hard. After making several pick strokes, the miners understood that this was a big block located at a depth of about three centimeters. As it turned out later, this was the giant nugget that was to be called ‘Welcome Stranger’.  It weighed about 78.4 kg.

     3.   Great Triangle. The largest Russian nugget was found in the Southern Ural region in 1842. It was a practically flat slab of 8 centimeters thick that looked like a triangle. The sides of this stone measured 39, 33 and 25.4 cm. Its weight – 36.015, and probe – 900.6. This nugget is considered to be the biggest precious gold stone in the world at the present time (larger nuggets found abroad have been melted). Today, the Great Triangle is kept in the Diamond Reserve of the Russian Federation. 

      4.   Japanese. Japan is also distinguished in the mining of precious metals. A fantastic gold nugget was found there on Honshu Island in 1901. Its weight was 71 kilogram. Later it was named ‘Japanese’.

      5.   Hand of faith. This is one more wonderful gold nugget found with the help of a metal detector in 1980. It is of Australian origin. The history of this nugget is really interesting – Kelvin Hillier decided to try out his new metal detector in the small town where he lived. Imagine how surprised he was when he found this incredible gold nugget. It weighed 27 kilograms and was estimated to be worth about $1,000,000 dollars.

Historically, the biggest gold nuggets have most often been found in Australia. Many of these with the weight of several kilograms have been discovered in Victoria State.

Author bio: The author is the editor of jewago.com/blog – the blog that opens up the fantastic jewelry world and discovers the incredible things related to it!

Danielle Olivia Tefft’s Note: I hope you enjoyed this guest post!
<![CDATA[Victorian versus Victorian Revival Brooches]]>Sat, 10 Jun 2017 15:20:58 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/victorian-versus-victorian-revival-brooches
By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
I picked the dangle brooch below as my first example of a Victorian Revival brooch for you on purpose. Doesn’t it look just like a real piece of Victorian jewelry? My heart skipped a beat when I first saw it in a pile of old jewelry from the flea market.

I thought I had found a true antique! Here was a piece of jewelry well over 100 years old! (The Victorian era was from 1837 to 1901. That means even the pieces made at the end of the era are over 115 years old! )

But then I turned the brooch over. The clasp mechanism gave a way the fact that this was a clever imposter of true Victorian jewelry. How did I know it wasn’t a true Victorian brooch?

Genuine Victorian brooches (made from 1837-1901) have trombone style or “c” clasps and pin stems that extend past the brooch bodies. Spinning safety catch pin & stem mechanisms like this brooch has were not invented until 1910 or so.

This is a vintage Victorian Revival brooch from the 1940s. It’s made of brass and finished in repousse (stamped) metalwork. It features an ornate Etruscan Revival motif with five graduated brass dangles attached. Though it isn’t Victorian, it’s still simply magnificent!  Like other Victorian Revival brooches from the period following WW II, it is a noteworthy replica of true Victorian jewelry!

I have three theories on why Victorian jewelry experienced a revival after WW II (World War Two) ended in 1945:

 First, rhinestones and glass stones were still unavailable, as the Eastern European countries they hailed from were in a state of devastation after the War. It took many years to rebuild the thriving German and Czech glass stone industry that costume jewelers so depended upon prior to WW II. Also, precious metals such as platinum and gold had been used for munitions during wartime and were still in short supply after the War.

 With the ongoing shortages of precious metals and gemstones, costume jewelers compensated by manufacturing Victorian Revival jewelry, or replicas of Victorian jewelry, due to the simplicity and lack of multiple gemstones in the style. An example is the popular sweetheart bracelets that were manufactured by various jewelry manufacturers during WW II.

Sweetheart bracelets were modeled after similar Victorian bracelets. They were often made of brass or other non-precious base metals and gold filled (plated).Since these bracelets were such a hit, it was only a natural extension to look toward other Victorian styles for inspiration in this post-war era. They were offering something at once old and new again to the burgeoning post war jewelry market.

Second, the mourning jewelry styles of Queen Victoria’s era were also an appropriate fit for those mourning the loss of soldiers who never made it home from WW II. Many Victorian Revival brooches are made with black onyx or feature black enamel, as their Victorian counterparts did.
Third and perhaps most subtle of the reasons for the popularity of Victorian style jewelry during the 1940s, I believe, is this: Victorians were keenly interested in history. Topics like the rise and fall of classical societies like Greece and Rome; Darwin’s theory of evolution; and historically significant sites fascinated them. So, it isn’t surprising that Victorian jewelry incorporated styles of past civilizations, mainly Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman.  
Perhaps the popularity of Victorian Revival jewelry in the years after the end of WW II was an answer to a subconscious plea from the masses to learn the lessons of history, like the Victorians did, so as never to repeat the atrocities of the World War that had just ended. 

​The true reason for the resurgence of Victorian style jewelry in the 1940s, known as Victorian Revival jewelry, may be lost in time. But these wonderful vintage pieces are worthy of collecting in their own right. And I hope you can distinguish Victorian Revival brooches from genuine Victorian pieces, now that you’ve viewed all of the examples in this posts’ photos! Happy hunting!
Do you have any  Victorian Revival brooches in your jewelry collection?  If so, tell us about them in the comments section.  Also, be sure to sign up for this blog below so you son't miss a single discussion on antique and vintage jewelry.  You'll get a jewelry buyer's tip sheet just for signing up!
​Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.

<![CDATA[Titanium Rings: 8 Experts Discuss Styles, Myths, and Benefits]]>Tue, 02 May 2017 12:13:50 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/titanium-rings-8-experts-discuss-styles-myths-and-benefits
An Excerpt of the Full Article ​By Alex Swanson, Editor, Titanium Style Blog
Titanium and diamond bands from Avant Garde Titanium.
Contrary to popular belief, titanium isn’t a new metal. It was discovered in 1791 and has been used for rings since the 1990s. A popular alternative to gold or silver, titanium has strength and durability that other precious metals don’t offer. Titanium rings also happen to be quite inexpensive. They’re a great option for budget-conscious shoppers.

But titanium rings still aren’t widely known. To help educate the world about this great alternative jewelry metal, we interviewed a panel of 8 experts.  Here’s what they had to say:

Sophie of Made of Jewelry

Sophie | Made of Jewelry
Sophie launched her website, Made of Jewelry, in 2013 to blog about her jewelry finds. She wants to share the jewelry she discovers and her interests. She doesn’t profess to be a jewelry insider or gemologist; rather, she simply has a passion for the world of jewelry.

Why are titanium rings not as widely known as other more expensive alternatives?
Titanium is not as well-known as some other metals. It’s known to be used in industrial things, such as airplanes, so it doesn’t have the same association to jewelry as gold and silver do.

What are some common misconceptions about titanium rings? 
Some common misconceptions are that titanium isn’t strong and its color doesn’t last. Another misconception is that it’s a cheaper version of platinum.

What are the benefits of titanium rings?
Titanium rings are actually more resistant to change and stronger than other metals. For example, it’s much stronger than gold. Also titanium rings are lightweight, which is always good if you love to stack a lot of rings.

Why would you choose a titanium ring over another ring?
As long the ring looks good, it doesn’t really matter to me. Design is what it’s all about! Personally, the only thing I’d never buy is a brass ring. They tend to tarnish really quickly.

What styles do titanium rings come in?
I love to look around on Etsy and I’ve noticed that titanium rings are mainly wide ring bands. They often have a wedding band appearance.
Katilyn of Cheap Tulle

Katilyn | Cheap Tulle
Katilyn is a rising junior at Kenyon College, studying English and Art History. After spending the summer of 2016 interning for NYLON Magazine’s editorial department in Manhattan, she started her personal style blog Cheap Tulle. In addition to all things fashion, she is passionate about contemporary American poetry, early photographs of Paul McCartney and eBay.

What are some common misconceptions about titanium rings? 
A misconception that I’ve always had about titanium jewelry, and rings in particular, has to do with the price range. For whatever reason, I’ve always associated titanium with platinum—perhaps because the words sound similar. Since platinum jewelry is expensive, I tend to assume that titanium jewelry is also really expensive. I also associate titanium with its use in airplanes, spacecraft and various pieces of medical equipment. This contributes to my misconception that it is used for robust, expensive machinery instead of delicate jewelry.

What styles do titanium rings come in?
As a person who has experimented with various ear and nose piercings, I’ve always found titanium to be particularly gentle and a non-irritating metal. My skin is very sensitive. When purchasing earrings, I often look for titanium jewelry or pieces made from other like metals.

How would you style a titanium ring?
Like any other piece of grey colored jewelry, I would style a titanium ring among other pieces of gold and silver. When wearing rings, I like to emphasize the contrast of different metals. The play of silver and gold color is particularly trendy right now. Because titanium is a nicer, more durable metal than a cheaper copper ring that you would find on a sale rack at Urban Outfitters or H&M, I also like to let its elegance stand alone.
Titanium and gold ring from Avant Garde Titanium.

​Ruxandra | From Brussels, with Love

Ruxandra is a fashion blogger from Brussels, Belgium. A world traveler, she’s constantly on the search for new inspiration for her posts. She shares outfit and travel posts on her blog, From Brussels, with Love, on a daily basis.

What are some common misconceptions about titanium rings? 
I think the most common misconception is the fact that titanium rings cannot be engraved. I know many people think that titanium is a very hard metal, thus thinking it cannot be engraved. However, that is totally false as it can be engraved.

What are the benefits of titanium rings?
I know that, as someone who can’t stand metals like gold or silver, titanium is hypoallergenic.

How would you style a titanium ring?
I’d wear a titanium ring in a punk rock, grunge outfit. I think this would be the best style for a titanium ring.

Danielle Olivia’s  note: I hope you enjoyed this guest post about titanium rings. You can read the full article by Alex Swanson at the Titanium Style Blog. And be sure to sign up below for the Found in the Jewelry Box Blog so you don’t miss a single discussion about great jewelry, modern, vintage and antique!

<![CDATA[Is Old Costume Jewelry Worth Repairing?]]>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:05:53 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/is-old-costume-jewelry-worth-repairing
By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Treasure Box Antiques
A collection of vintage and antique costume jewelry. (Courtesy of Treasure Box Antiques)

Costume jewelry was first produced In the 1920s. Coco Chanel and other trail blazers of haute couture desired costume jewelry pieces to be inexpensive and disposable accessories for the clothing they designed. I think Coco Chanel and her fellow fashion trailblazers would be surprised to know that many of those “disposable costume pieces are still worn and highly collectible today in the 21st century. 
Treasure Box Antiques Mazer frog brooch
A highly collectible vintage Mazer frog brooch. Circa 1945. (Courtesy of Treasure Box Antiques)

Indeed, the costume jewelry market is alive and well today and there are many collectors (myself included) of the original pieces made in the 1920s and 1930s and beyond. But many of these faux treasures are falling into disrepair. After all, many of them are soon to be 100 years old. That means you will soon be able to collect antique (100 years old or older) costume jewelry!

So are these old pieces of costume jewelry worth repairing? Here are three questions you should ask yourself to determine the answer:

1.   Is the piece from a sought-after designer and/or of high quality?

If you can answer “yes” to this question, it’s likely that a proper repair should be considered. However, you still should determine if the piece isn’t too far gone to repair. Examples include heavily corroded costume jewelry where the base metal is crumbling away and costume jewelry with ornate patterns like filigree that need so many solder repairs that the piece would end up looking like a patchwork quilt. Repairs lessen the value of a piece of jewelry. Bad repairs destroy value!

2.    What does the piece (in good repair) go for on the market today?

If you are considering putting time and/or money into a repair, take time first to do a search on ebay for similar pieces of costume jewelry. What is the going asking price? Read some descriptions. What are others getting for items with repairs and items in less than perfect shape? It may not be cost effective to even bother with a repair.

3.   Will a repair restore the piece to near original condition?

 Or will a repair be an obvious and/or ugly? These outcomes will destroy the value of the piece of costume jewelry in question. Also consider how easy it will be to repair. For example, can you easily find matching stones in shape, size and color for the originals that are missing? For more info on this, see my article on replacing stones in costume jewelry.

Treasure Box Antiques Peacock Brooch
A vintage peacock brooch. Circa 1935. It may be hard to replace its colored stones of different shapes and sizes should they fall out. (Courtesy Treasure Box Antiques)

If you answer the questions above truthfully, you will quickly realize that some pieces of old costume jewelry are just not worth repairing.  On the other hand, perhaps an old piece of costume jewelry is beautiful or holds sentimental value for you, and it would be heartbreaking to throw it away.

For example, perhaps the clasp mechanism broke off your grandmother’s costume brooch. It’s not worth repairing but as far as sentimental value goes, it is priceless to you. Repurpose it! Yes, find a way to use it in a craft project. I have many ideas for such crafts made from old costume jewelry on the Treasure Box Antiques’ Pinterest Board: Favorite Crafts

Repurposed costume jewelry
A lovely way to repurpose broken old costume jewelry pieces is to make bookmarks out of them. Great gift idea! (Courtesy Country Living on Pinterest)

One of my favorite ideas is shown above. I love the idea of costume jewelry book marks!  They would make great gifts, wouldn’t they?

I hope this article helped you determine what costume jewelry should be repaired and what should be repurposed. I never throw these old treasures away! Do you have a fresh idea for repairing or reusing old jewelry? If so, please share it in the comments section and be sure to sign up for this blog so you don’t miss a single discussion about jewelry!

​Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.

<![CDATA[Baltic Amber:  A Gift from the Distant Past]]>Tue, 28 Mar 2017 16:41:15 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/baltic-amber-a-gift-from-the-distant-past
By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Piece of Amber
A pendant-size piece of amber. Note the embedded insects. (Photo by John Elson, July 2005. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

I think amber jewelry is both attractive and amazing. Baltic amber, especially, is an ancient gift from nature, with many homeopathic powers attributed to it. I especially like the translucent pieces of amber that are often made into pendants. These often contain ancient plants, insects and animals incased inside them. That’s because amber itself is fossilized resin from the trunks of ancient trees. The life forms became trapped in the resin when it flowed millions of years ago.
Baltic amber necklace
A gorgeous Baltic amber necklace. (Courtesy of the GIA.)

Amber has long been considered an organic gemstone like the pearl. It's recognized as such by the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and gemologists worldwide. Many people think amber looks like chunks of hardened honey. It can be opaque or translucent. Opaque pieces of amber are often heat treated to make them translucent.
The Baltic Sea area has been the largest known source of this natural gem since antiquity. Baltic amber was created by resin from an enormous ancient forest of pine trees. Some 40 to 60 million years ago, this pine forest spanned from Norway to the Caspian Sea. If you burn this amber, it will release a wonderful pine scent.

Amber beads
Amber beads. (Courtesy of Shutterstock.com.)

​ There are deposits of "young" tree resins elsewhere in the world that are on their way to becoming fossilized amber. These deposits can be anywhere from one thousand to one million years old. They are nowhere near the age of Baltic amber. This young resin is called Copal. Sometimes, these more modern resins are passed off as true Baltic amber. Plastic, glass and man-made resins can also be passed off as real amber.
Resin is not to be confused with the sap which flows inside the internal veins of a tree, much like human blood. Resin forms at the surface of a tree when the bark is damaged. Think of it as nature's bandage. It's quite fitting that Baltic amber is still considered to be a healing aid millions of years after it first flowed to protect the pine trees. (More about that a bit later on…)

Amber jewelry
A varied Assortment of vintage amber jewelry. (Courtesy of Caviaraffair.com.)

 Fierce storms have been kicking up Baltic amber from the sea floor for centuries. In ancient times, it would wash up on the beaches of Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and other countries bordering the Baltic Sea. There are times when it still does after such storms. From the beginning, the local peoples were in awe of these golden pebbles from the sea which were so lightweight when held in the hand. They attributed great magic and healing powers to amber. Initially, local peoples harvested amber freely from the sea. It was considered a gift from nature's bounty for all to enjoy.
Over time, reports of the healing properties of amber spread by word of mouth throughout the known world. So amber became an important commodity along early trade routes to the Mediterranean Sea region, especially in Egypt and in Italy; the seat of the Roman Empire. Amber was also traded along routes through Middle East and Asian countries where it was also deemed to have special powers. 

Amber jewelry
A lovely tri-color amber necklace and earring set. (Courtesy of the Smithsonian.)

It was the Romans who made the first attempt to usurp the amber trade away from indigenous Baltic peoples. Sadly, they valued amber more than the lives of the blond, blue-eyed peoples who harvested it from the Baltic shores. They captured these people and made them slaves. A few were left to harvest amber as they had done in the early days when free of Roman domination and bondage. But many more were taken back to Rome to live their lives in slavery.
Amber was known as the "Gold of the North" among the Romans. They established a well- known trade route known as the Amber Road along land and rivers from the Baltic Sea to the seat of the Roman Empire in Italy. The first century A. D. was the Roman heyday for amber. They used it to make everything from coins and protective amulets to medicine.

Antique amber rosary
Antique rosary with amber beads. (Courtesy of Pinterest.)

The spread of Christianity provided yet another use for amber. It became a popular and sought-after material for crosses and prayer beads.  After the Romans, the next group to stake a claim for Baltic amber was the Teutonic Knights during the Crusades. The Teutonic Knights took control of amber production and the amber routes. They also took control of Gdansk, a city in Poland, which had come to be known as the City of Amber after the fall of the Roman Empire.
 The Teutonic Knights' grip was severe. Those caught harvesting amber without official consent were hanged. The Teutonic knights controlled amber production and sale in Gdansk for over one hundred years. Finally, early in the 15th century, the local peoples staged an uprising and drove them out of the city. Local peoples took back control of the amber production. Gdansk once again emerged as the center for the amber trade. 
Catherine the Great amber room
Catherine the Great had an entire room bedecked in amber in her St. Petersburg Imperial Palace. (Courtesy of Dancing Bear Tours.)

Today, Baltic amber is still in high demand. It's processed for the world market in Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Latvia for jewelry and homeopathic remedies.  As body heat warms it, Baltic amber releases oil. The oil contains succinic acid which is absorbed through the skin. Curiously, succinic acid is found only in Baltic Sea amber, although amber deposits have been located in other parts of the world. These other locations include Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Sicily, Myanmar and Romania.
Succinic acid has been found to be a natural pain reliever. Some call it nature's Ibuprofen. Baltic amber has the highest concentration of succinic acid found in the nature (roughly 3% to 8%). Rhubarb stalks, beets, cheese and other foods also contain succinic acid in much lower concentrations.  

Amber jewelry display
Display of amber jewelry for sale. (Courtesy Amazon.com.)

Parents in many European countries still place Baltic amber necklaces and bracelets on their teething toddlers and infants as a natural analgesic to help lessen the pain. These items are called teething jewelry. However, that is a very misleading term since this jewelry is meant to be worn, not chewed upon! You can purchase teething jewelry in drugstores in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Baltic amber is also marketed to adults to help reduce inflammation caused by diseases and boost energy. Again, it is the release of succinic acid into the body that purportedly creates these effects. No other amber in the world is known to contain this amazing healing acid.
Two Quick Tests to Determine if Your Amber is Real:
  • Rub two pieces of amber together and then hold them over a piece of paper, straw or thread. Real amber generates an electrostatic charge which will attract these objects and cause them to "stick" to it. (The ancient Greeks noted this curious property of amber and named it "elektron," their term for the sun's energy.)
  • Place your amber in salt water. (You can make your own salt water by combining one part salt with two parts ordinary water.) Real amber will float in salt water. Most plastic will not.


Andzia'sAmberJewelry:Amber-Myths-and-History-of-Amber, http://www.amberjewelry.com/Amber-Myths-and-History-of-Amber-s/89.htm

Gem & Jewelry Pocket Guide, by Renee Newman, GG. (2007). International Jewelry Publications, Los Angeles, CA.

Hazelaid.com: All About Baltic Amber Teething Jewelry, http://hazelaid.com/pages/about-baltic-amber

Healing Amber: About Baltic Amber, http://www.healingamber.ca/About-Baltic-Amber_ep_41.html

I hope you enjoyed this article on the amazing history and uses of Baltic amber, especially the jewelry! Be sure to subscribe to this blog to learn about more great antique and vintage jewelry.
​Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.

<![CDATA[Vintage Mood Rings from the Seventies]]>Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:31:44 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/vintage-mood-rings-from-the-seventies
By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Vintage 1970s mood ring
My newly discovered mood ring from the 1970s.

As the years fly by, I grow more and more nostalgic. Anything that reminds me of growing up in the 1970s puts a smile on my face. The seventies were full of tacky clothes like bell bottom pants and platform shoes. We had tacky toys like banana seat bikes with plastic baskets decorated with plastic daisies. I had all of these things and remember them fondly.
banana seat bike with plastic flower basket
A banana seat bike with a plastic flower basket-just like I had as a kid. (Courtesy Pinterest.)

The seventies were also all about tacky novelty items like pet rocks, Mexican jumping beans and mood rings. Yes, I had these, too. But my favorite novelty item was my mood ring. Or should I say mood rings. We used to get them at Woolworth’s (a fabulous discount department store) or at the corner store with our penny candy. Sometimes you could win them at fairs and carnivals and amusement parks.
Vintage mood ring
A vintage mood ring on the original card. (Courtesy Luvalution Online Boutique.)

The science behind mood rings (body temperature sensitive liquid crystals) had been around for some time prior to the era. But the mood ring application did not take off until the mid-seventies when a young entrepreneur convinced Bonwit Teller, a Fifth Avenue flagship department store in New York City at the time, to carry them. He thus started the craze by marketing them as “truth rings”. 

Mood ring advertisement
Vintage mood ring advertisement. (Courtesy of Pinterest.)

Within a month, celebrities like Barbara Streisand and Paul Newman were touting them. T.V. talk show host Mike Douglas did a special show on them. Muhammad Ali even wrote a poem about mood rings!  You can guess the rest: mood rings became an American cultural sensation that everyone had to have. They sold so many that that young entrepreneur made a fortune within three months’ time.
mood rings
Multiple mood ring styles. (Courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Can you believe those first Bonwit Teller mood rings were sold for $45 for silver settings and $250 for gold?  I hate to say it, but thank goodness for knock-offs! Otherwise my childhood would have been severely lacking!
vintage mood ring advertisement
A vintage mood ring advertisement right out of the 1970s. (Courtesy Pinterest.)

Mood rings were huge in the seventies. I lost track of how many mood rings I owned over those childhood years. They’d get lost or broken on an almost daily basis. I remember them being ultra-cool to own until I became a teenager.

Imagine my delight in finding an original mood ring from the seventies in a pile of old costume jewelry my friend Julie, owner of Julie’s Place Antiques & Collectibles, asked me to go through for her a few weeks ago. I held it up for all to see and declared it for all the world to see. “I think this is a mood ring!” I said excitedly. I shoved it on my index finger (no need to worry about breaking it, as the band is metal and adjustable.)

Vintage mood ring
The back of my vintage mood ring. One side of the shank was not attached, so it could adjust around your finger.

Unfortunately, Julie wasn’t so awed and amazed. But she did let me keep my prize. I felt like a kid again!  So it sits in a little tray right next to my laptop on my desk. And every time I look at it, I just have to try it on. It usually turns either purple or green on me. Sometimes it turns blue. 

I don’t really care what the colors mean. There are lots of different interpretations out there. For me, just the fact that it’s turning colors on my finger verifies that it is indeed a real mood ring. That’s all I need to know!

I wear it happily-right next to my big girl rings! I’ll let you picture the big smile that goes with it! It is a typical mood ring form the seventies with a big center cabochon stone.

vintage mood ring
My mood ring-right next to my "big girl" rings!

You can’t really tell from looking at a mood ring that it contains liquid crystals. The old ones look quite dull; a sort of dull greyish purple-even black in color until you put them on. Some vintage mood rings stop changing color all together. But hopefully, if you come across one in an old jewelry box or other collections of old costume jewelry, it will change colors for you!
mood ring display
Mood ring display. (Courtesy of Pinterest.)

You can purchase mood rings again today. In fact, there are whole websites out there dedicated to them. Also you can find mood necklaces and mood bands now. They probably had these in the late seventies, too. But first came the mood ring like the one on my finger.  :)

The 1970s by Kelly Boyer Sagert, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.

Have you come across a vintage mood ring in your travels? Do you still have one from the seventies? If so please share it with us in the comments section. And subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss an article!

You’ll receive a free Buyer Beware tip sheet I created for those who buy antique and vintage jewelry online just for signing up!

<![CDATA[What Exactly is a Cameo Habille’?]]>Mon, 09 Jan 2017 20:35:13 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/what-exactly-is-a-cameo-habille
By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
cameo habille
A lovely cameo habille' from the early 1900s. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Have you ever seen a cameo pendant or brooch in which the subject is actually wearing a pendant or a brooch? These cameos are habille’ cameos. “Habille’” is a French word. Paired with the word, “cameo”, it means a dressed cameo, or a cameo wearing jewelry.
cameo habille
Another cameo habille' from the early 1900s. Note the diamond in her hair as well as her diamond pendant.(Courtesy of Pinterest)

Habille’ is prounounced (ah-bee-yeh) in French. Lots of silent letters, I know. It’s hard for me to remember this pronunciation, too, as I took German in high school.  German has no such silent letters! Just remember (as I do) when you see the term, “cameo habille’” or “habille’ cameo”, it means a cameo with jewelry.  Pronouncing it properly is another story!

Renaissance cameo habille'
A 15th century Renaissance cameo. It would be considered a cameo habille' today, as the subject is wearing a detachable earring and head ornament. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Cameos have been favorite human adornments  since the days of the Pharaohs of Egypt. So I’m sure cameos wearing jewelry have been around for just as long. But the term seems relatively new. In fact, you’ll probably come across references to Victorian cameos wearing jewelry as the first to carry the actual title, “cameo habille’”.

Napoleon cameo habille'
Early 1800's cameo habille' of Napoleon. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Also, note that the term “cameo habille’” refers to a cameo actually adorned with detachable jewelry such as a sterling silver collar with a diamond pendant. These are the most frequently seen and were very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

cameo habille
A beautiful cameo habille' of a Greek goddess wearing a jeweled tiara, circa 1870. (Courtesy Pinterest)

A cameo with carved jewelry is not considered a cameo habille’. So cameos with carved beaded necklaces or carved hair ornaments or carved earrings; i.e. items that can’t be detached from the cameo; are not considered part of the club.

cameo habille
A cameo habille' of an African princess, circa 1865. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

When you come across a cameo habille’, don’t fret if you don’t see the little mark over  the “e” in “habille’.” A cameo habille is the same thing as a cameo habille’. It’s just that one way is true to the French origin of the term, and one is Americanized.

cameo habille
An early 1900's cameo habille'. Note that she also has a carved set of pearls in her hair. But it is her detachable diamond necklace that makes her a cameo habille' (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Do all cameo habille’s contain real diamonds and precious metals in their jewelry? No, especially modern renditions.  If you want to learn more about cameos in general, check some of out some of the fabulous references at the end of this article. Also, I’ve written a few previous blog posts on them like, "Can You Tell A Real Shell Cameo From A Fake?" and "Is That Cameo Real or Fake?"

cameo habille ring
Lovely cameo habille' ring form the early 1900s. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Now, please don’t think I don’t approve of modern plastic and resin cameos. Costume jewelry pieces can be quite lovely, especially grouped in a collection. My intent in previous articles was to provide the means to tell what the material of the cameo you are inspecting is made from. Obviously, I wouldn’t want you to pay a hard stone (the most expensive) or shell cameo price when you are dealing with a resin cameo!

Antique Jewellery, by John Benjamin, Antique Collectors' Club Ltd., (2003)
Popular Jewelry: 1840-1940, by Roseann Ettinger, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., (2002)

Do you own any cameo habille’s? If so, please tell us about them in the comments section and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss an article!
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Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.

<![CDATA[That Forest Green Gem could be Moldavite]]>Mon, 02 Jan 2017 20:30:32 GMThttp://danielleoliviatefftwrites.com/found-in-the-jewelry-box-blog/that-forest-green-gem-could-be-moldavite
By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Moldavite gemstone
A faceted Moldavite gemstone. (Courtesy of Bestcutgems.com)

“Moldavite” is not a very glamorous name for a gemstone. But it was named for the Moldau River Valley in the Czech Republic where it was first discovered in the 1700s.  Moldavite is unlike many other gemstones which are formed by geological processes far below the earth’s surface. Rather, the prized gem was created in the molten vapors created just before impact of a massive meteorite that smashed into the earth’s surface some 14 million years ago.

Moldavite is considered to be a form of natural glass; hence it is a vitreous gem. Since very few natural glasses are actually found on the earth’s surface, Moldavite is considered rare as far as gemstones go. 

Moldavite specimen
Moldavite in the rough. Notice the "feathering". This is prized in a specimen. (Courtesy of Pinterest)

Fine gem quality Moldavite is forest green with yellow undertones or undertones in shades of brown. There are also lighter hues of Moldavite which appear to have grey undertones. But the most coveted stones are medium forest green with no brown undertones. Also, the more translucent Moldavite is, the higher priced it is. 
necklace with Moldavite
A gorgeous Moldavite, blue topaz and moonstone necklace. (Courtesy of Tumblr)

​Moldavite has a hardness of 5.5 on the Mohs Scale (diamonds are a 10 on the same scale). It is harder than organic gemstones like coral, pearls or amber but not as hard as emeralds, rubies or sapphires. Therefore, Moldavite can easily be scratched, especially if it is mounted in a ring that will be worn every day. Earrings or pendants featuring the gemstone are a much better choice, because they don’t typically see as much wear as rings.

Even gem quality Moldavite typically has imbedded areas of pitting. These flaws can appear like tiny bubbles at best or hairline cracks or fissures at worst. (Remember, it is a natural glass!) Moldavite does not need to be treated or enhanced like many other gemstones.

Moldavite pendant
A rough specimen Moldavite pendant necklace. (Courtesy DHgate.com)

​How much does Moldavite cost? Well, I checked the latest Moldavite selection at the Jewelry Television website (jtv.com). (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jtv.com, they are currently the largest gemstone retailer in the world.) Here are the price points I found:

You can purchase a 14K gold and diamond ring with a 3 carat Moldavite gemstone for under $400. You can purchase sterling silver rings featuring Moldavite ranging from about $30 to $200 depending on the size of the Moldavite stone. 

Moldavite and diamond ring
A Moldavite and diamond ring. (Courtesy Ebay)

As far as loose gemstones go, you can purchase a nice 3 carat oval cut Moldavite from the Czech Republic for about $70 right now.

However, these prices won’t remain static. According to a personal friend of mine who is a gemstone expert and collector, the supply of Moldavite is dwindling rapidly, so its price will steadily increase. 

Moldavite ring
A Moldavite and red garnet ring. (Courtesy Imgrum.com)

So the next time you shop for multi-colored fine jewelry, or browse through a collection of estate jewelry, make sure you look for pieces that feature Moldavite. If you find one, take a moment to marvel at this forest green gem created by a meteor impact with the earth 14 million years ago!

  1.  http://www.gemselect.com/gem-info/moldavite/moldavite-info.php
  2. http://www.jtv.com/s?q=moldavite&sz=96&start=0&showProducts=1
  3. http://www.minresco.com/moldtek/moldinfo.htm
  4. http://www.moldavit.de/UK/info.htm
Do you own any Moldavite jewelry? Tell us about it in the comments section and be sure to subscibe to this blog so you don't miss an article about jewelry and gemstones!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and is the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques; for many years at Ruby Lane and now at Etsy. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or this blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.