Timeless gems

Walters shows how jewelry themes invented centuries ago have transcended the ages

October 19, 2008|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,elizabeth.large@baltsun.com

When Bedazzled, the exhibit of jewelry from the Walters Art Museum collection, opens today, it will be more than just an interesting look at gorgeous pieces from 5,000 years ago to the early 20th century. You'll also see the antecedents of contemporary bracelets, rings, earrings and necklaces that might be worn on the red carpet at the Oscars, at the next President's Inaugural Ball or at a neighbor's cocktail party.

Modern jewelry makers still use many of the same techniques, materials and motifs you'll find on display at the Walters to create precious pieces that have a timeless appeal.

Here are three examples:

1

Museum (25-scarab necklace): Egyptian-Style Necklace with Scarabs (Italian, late 19th or early 20th century)

The Castellani workshop was known for its archaeological jewelry copied from ancient Egyptian pieces and decorated with ancient and modern scarabs (based on the image of a dung beetle).

Modern (5-scarab pendant): Scarab Necklace, $612

Sixteen-inch, 14-karat gold necklace with five scarabs made of gemstones, such as tiger eye, chrysoprase, carnelian, lapis, rhodolite and epidote. Available from Jewel Basket.com.

2

Museum (larger jeweled iris): Iris Corsage Ornament (Tiffany & Co., ca. 1900)

This Tiffany brooch became famous when it won the grand prize at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. It's made of a gold stem, sapphires and diamonds, with leaves of green demantoid garnets.

Modern (small iris): Windswept Iris Brooch, $75

From the Franz Collection, the porcelain on a rhodium-plated brass setting is available at CarolynsUniquePlace.com.

3

Museum (left, two snakes): Pair of Roman Snake Bracelets (Roman, 1st century A.D.)

These solid gold bracelets were worn on the wrist or upper arm. Snake bracelets and rings were common because the snakes symbolized fertility and were supposed to ward off evil.

Modern (right): Antonio Palladino Gold Snake Bracelet, $2,635

Gold vermeil snake bracelet is available at Barneys.com

Read a review of the "Bedazzled" exhibit at the Walters Art Museum. 5

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