Beauty is, we are told, in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to jewellery, we are all in agreement: the bigger, the better! Bride takes a peek inside the collections of Gemma Redmond Vintage, with founder Gemma selecting her top 5 swoon-worthy bridal pieces for 2015... and trust us, they will have brides imitating Elizabeth Taylor before the year is out.
Photograph by Edwin Lee, Flickr Creative Commons
Gemma Redmond Vintage opens its archives to reveal its top 5 most desirable vintage bridal accessories:
1. The Original Bride
Necklace, Unsigned, 1900s - £128
This necklace has been much admired at the recent bridal fairs I have exhibited at, mainly because it is so eye-catching - the diamante contrasts beautifully with the lustrous faux opals. Dating from the 1900s, it is one of the oldest bridal pieces I have in my collection. I love this necklace because it is so evocative of the delicacy of Edwardian jewellery. Pieces were designed at this time to complement lacy, corseted creations in the muted hues of the Art Nouveau period, popularised by designers like Lalique and Fouquet. It is easy to imagine an elegant lady, swathed in a pale pink taffeta gown wearing this piece to a Summer evening ball - despite this being a crucial era in the timeline of Women’s Suffrage, ladies still wanted to exude ultra-femininity. A vote and a voice did not have to mean a loss of daintiness and charm.
This piece is perfect for a bride who loves original styling details - the diamante nods to traditional bridal jewellery, but the pastel shades within the faux opals are a unique touch. They could perhaps be a way of matching your look to the groom’s tie or bridesmaids' gowns, or a standalone colour on an ivory-toned day.
2. The Classic Bride
Bracelet, Miriam Haskell, 1940s - £298
This bracelet features all of the hallmarks of classic bridal style - romantic faux pearls, delicate diamantes and a pretty floral motif. Worn with a duchesse satin gown in a classic column design, this piece would be a beautiful ‘something old’and would add a antique twist to a contemporary style. Mixing vintage and modern always guarantees an individual appearance and who doesn’t want to look special on their wedding day? I think this bracelet is wonderful because it is a piece of costume jewellery history. It was created by Frank Hess for the Miriam Haskell company in the late 1940s. Hess was inspired by the natural world and replicated it through the skilled process of wiring decorative components together, such as beads and rhinestones, to form layered and complex representations. His work set a standard that many jewellery companies quested to replicate and made Haskell pieces coveted the world over, therefore this bracelet is important and collectable.
3. The Glamorous Bride
Parure, Trifari, 1940s - £395
‘Parure’ is the French term for ‘set’and is used in jewellery circles to describe two or more pieces that match. Parures are so versatile - you can wear every piece at once for full on bridal glamour or wear each piece separately to allude to your excellent taste in jewels and remind you of your ‘Big Day’for years to come! This parure features a necklace, brooch and bracelet. Although only a recent acquisition, it is probably one of my most favourite sets in my collection. It is such a graceful parure, with its fluid, organic, floral design. But it is also dazzling, with its unbroken pattern of baguette cut, marquis cut and round diamantes. The pieces were made by the legendary costume jewellery company, Trifari, in the late 1940s and were created by their most admired designer, Alfred Philippe. He was known for his exacting craftsmanship and for applying his skills honed at William Scheer (who made for Cartier and Van Cleef) to costume pieces. Philippe’s eye for detail and stone setting technique can be viewed first hand in this parure - what a privilege it would be to wear it.
4. The Understated Bride
Brooch, Unsigned, 1950s - £50
A brooch is a choice bridal accessory. They are an excellent way to add subtle interest to a bridal look - pinned to the centre of a sash around the waist or a bow tied at the back of a dress; attached to a plain clutch bag or a wrap worn to keep out the cold; adding antiquarian detail to a bouquet or hair pin. The potential of a brooch is far reaching, particularly when they are as pretty as this one. In fact, I think this piece is one of my most exquisite examples. Manufactured in the 1950s, it is elegantly set with diamantes and illustrates the fascination with floral motifs in design during the decade. French Couturiers, such as Dior and Givenchy, were enamoured with blossoming prints and this trend was replicated in the affordable fashions and jewellery of the Fifties. Indeed, as is the case with all of my pieces, this brooch offers an insight into the ideals and tastes in society at the time of its manufacture. It is not just an accessory, it is a snapshot of the past.
5. The Sophisticated Bride
Earrings, Weiss, Early 1960s - £82
I love these earrings because they are the ultimate in bridal sophistication - offering just the right amount of sparkle to captivate your Groom and not too much ostentation, so that the rest of your look pales into insignificance. They were produced by the American company, Weiss, in the early 1960s. Weiss were known for using the finest Austrian crystal rhinestones and for claw setting them - a mark of high quality manufacture. They are typical of the cocktail styleof jewellery, which began its life in the late 1940s. Post-war, there was a desire for luxury and escapism. Cocktail parties were get-togethers where these ideals rang true and jewellery companies created pieces that women could wear to attend them. Chic, after-dark soirees were so regular, that costume, as opposed to fine, jewellery was essential. Just like the ladies of today, the women of the fifties and sixties aimed to not be seen in the same look twice and companies, like Weiss, supported them in this. The affordability of costume pieces enabled women to buy dozens of examples, rotating them with the rest of their extensive wardrobes.