By Danielle Olivia Tefft, jewelry writer
I have never seen another vintage Chinese export bracelet quite like the one shown above! I believe it to be circa 1920. It features 6 wonderful dangling figural charms of bearded scholars or wise men. Often after many years, they do not retain their original paint, but these little men still have quite a lot of color. I believe they are made of bone. (Under magnification with a 10X loupe, they all have tiny porous holes and long lines throughout them.) The bracelet base metal appears to be silver-tone plated copper (possibly zinc coated). Did you notice the Kingfisher blue enameling? This bracelet is a lovely piece of bygone Chinese export jewelry.
The Victorians began the craze for elaborate Chinese decoration or Chinoiserie. They imported furniture, ornamental objects and jewelry -- especially bracelets -- in vast quantities from China. In the 1920s and 1930s, many more of these bracelets came to American shores, as their exotic, colorful enameling and exquisite workmanship continued to be a hot commodity in the day.
Antique and vintage Chinese export bracelets typically have genuine carved gemstones, especially jade, carnelian, quartz and cinnabar. They often feature Kingfisher blue feathers or enameling which mimics that intense Kingfisher blue feather color. You may also find vintage Chinese export rings and necklaces with large carved amulets from this period.
I absolutely love this antique Chinese export bracelet. It is circa 1900 -- a bit older than the first bracelet shown. There are 5 metal plaques in the bracelet; all are adorned with a bat on each side. The Chinese believe bats symbolize happiness, prosperity and good luck, so this is a most auspicious antique piece!
The center of each metal plaque has a beautiful, genuine, deep orange-red carnelian stone, carved and pierced with more bats, birds and flowers. Each stone’s carving is different. The bracelet is marked, “China” on back of the last metal plaque near the clasp. It includes a safety chain.
The base metal appears to be copper plated with silver on the front side. The areas with silver plate have a deep dark patina, but there are many areas where the copper shows through. It gives the bracelet an attractive, gilt appearance.
Antique and vintage Chinese Export bracelets are becoming harder to find as collectors and others snatch them up. Expect to pay $300 to $1200 or more for a good one.
Do you own a vintage Chinese export bracelet ? Let me know in the comments section and subscribe to this blog if you enjoy vintage and antique jewelry as much as I do!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her fiancé. Would you like to hire her? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms and more information.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!
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