Tag Archives: jewelry

Tennis and Accessories and Bracelets.

Diamond Tennis Bracelets, photo courtesy of Anjolee

Today we are accustomed to seeing tennis players sporting flashy jewels, thanks to the Williams sisters and Andre Agassi, but there was a time that  jewelry on the court was limited to basic, undistracting pieces.  Perhaps a simple gold chain or a wristwatch would be acceptable, but other than that, it just was not a part of the outfit.  I can remember when girls in my gym class had to remove all jewelry when on the court, and that was in the early 1970s.

It seems like tennis players have always been trend-setters: Suzanne Lenglen and her hair bandeau and Jean Patou tennis frocks, Helen Wills and her visor hat, Gussie Moran and her frilly panties, and Chris Evert and her diamond bracelet.  According to the ad below, she first wore the bracelet in tournament play in 1979, but it was an incident in 1987 that supposedly led to a bracelet made of a straight line of diamonds being referred to as a “tennis bracelet.”

During the 1987 US Open, Evert’s diamond bracelet experienced a latch failure, and she asked for a halt in play so she could retrieve it.   I’m not sure which came first, the incident or the fad, but tennis bracelets were a big deal in the late 1980s and into the 90s.  Even my mother-in-law bought one!

photo from dangordon.me

She may not have gotten the bracelet named for her, but Evert knew a good thing.  We soon had the Chris Evert Jewelry Collection, where all the clasps were secured and latched!

In the 80s, if it was a tennis bracelet, it was a solid line of clear diamonds.  Today, tennis bracelets are a fashion staple, with practically endless possibilities of stones and metal designs.  Maybe that was because so many people had the pure diamond version, and they wanted to branch out a little.  Who knows?

In my post last week about online customization of products, I mentioned that the jewelry company, Anjolee, asked me to design a bracelet using their site.  I got the bracelet yesterday, and think it is simply lovely.  Would this be considered a tennis bracelet?  I’m not sure, but you can definitely see the influence of it.  This is their Alternating Gemstone Column Bracelet.  When using the customization feature, you get to choose the color and carat of gold, the size of the column, the gemstone ( garnet, topaz, citrine or peridot) and the length.

I’ve got to say that the quality of the bracelet is exceptional, with clear stones and carefully crafted gold.  I am very pleased with how “my” bracelet turned out.  They have a full line of gemstone and diamond bracelets, so if you are in the mood to treat yourself, their site is definitely worth a look.

And a big plus – unlike Chris Evert, I’ll not have to worry about this one coming loose.  It has a very secure double latch!

Bracelet courtesy of Anjolee.com

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Filed under Shopping

Vintage Christmas Tree Pins

I took the above photo last week at the market I attended, and was planning to use it as yet another example of how it’s often best to just leave stuff alone.  I know next to nothing about vintage costume jewelry, but I do think that the combined value of all the stuff that went into making this tree would greatly exceed the $130 asking price.

This was a huge fad in the 1960s into the 70s.  Take all of Granny’s old, out of style costume baubles and glue them to a board in the shape of a Christmas tree.  Display it for several years until you realize it is beyond ugly and then put it in the closet where you rediscover it in 2011 and try to peddle it as mid century art.

I know some of you are going to say you like it.  Okay, I’ll admit that it does have a certain charm that would be greatly enhanced if these were actually MY grandmother’s jewels.   Still, please let me make my point:  sometimes it is best to just let well enough alone.

I went on a quest to find more of these to use as example, but my feeble search phrase, “Pin Christmas Tree,”  led instead to Christmas tree pins.  Suddenly the clouds lifted and I was delighted by a nostalgic trip to a mid 1960s jewelry counter.  One of the advantages of having been in the world for 56 years is that I’ve got some darned great memories.  One of them is Christmas shopping in the 60s.  In one particular year, around 1964 or so, my mother let my older brother and me pick out a Christmas pin for our teachers.  I can remember how hard it was to pick, as even our little home town department store had a large selection.  It was a very popular gift of the time, and I can imagine that teachers in the 60s amassed a huge collection of them.

And that is reflected in the abundance of them in antique store, flea markets and online.  On etsy alone there are over 1000!  It would be very easy to get hooked on these, as most are very inexpensive.  I’ll share a few I really liked, in all price ranges.  Click on the caption to go to the sale page.


O Christmas Tree – Vintage Christmas Tree Brooch

Vintage Gold & Rhinestone Christmas Brooch Pin

Retro Christmas Tree Pin with Pink, Blue & Green Stones

Silver Toned Eisenberg Christmas Tree Pin

O Christmas Tree Vintage Christmas Tree Brooch

Vintage Silver tone Rhinestone Christmas Tree Brooch

Vintage Corocraft Cristmas Tree Brooch

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Filed under Holidays, Shopping, Viewpoint

Made in the USA – Stuart Nye Since 1933

In this day of the internet and widespread style sharing via blogs and sites such as etsy, I’ve got to wonder if regional fads and fashion even exist.  I’ve been thinking of this because I was sorting through an old box of trinkets and ran across a piece of Stuart Nye jewelry.

It’s highly possible that you have never heard of Stuart Nye, but if you lived in Western  North Carolina during the 1940s through the 1970s, Nye jewelry would have been high on your wantlist.  It was sold in the best stores, and everybody, and I mean everybody wanted a Nye dogwood ring.

Stuart Nye had been a patient at the VA hospital in Oteen,  which is just east of Asheville.  While he was there he bought some metalworking tools from another patient.  In 1933 he began making silver jewelry, based on some carvings he had made of dogwood blossoms.  His work was discovered by Ralph Morris,  Senior, a buyer for Ivey’s, a major Asheville department store, which became one of the biggest distributors of Nye’s jewelry.

Eventually Morris became a partner in the business, and when Nye retired, became the owner.  The workshop, which had been located in Nye’s garage, was relocated to a new building built by Morris on Tunnel Road in Asheville  The workshop is still located there.

Over the years more designs were added, mostly based on the flowers and leaves of the Appalachian Mountain region.   Copper was added when silver was in short supply during WWII, and brass was added when the price of silver skyrocketed in 1979.  But what has not changed is that all Stuart Nye jewelry is made completely by hand in their shop on Tunnel Road.  And they welcome visitors, who can watch the jewelry makers at work.

An overview of the shop.

The making of one of Nye’s most popular styles, the Backward Loop Earrings.  These are made in three sizes.  The maker uses marks on her pliers to gauge the size of the loop.

This woman is a skilled hammerer.  She is working on making silver trillium pins.  The design has been cut out of the silver, and before she starts with the hammer, is perfectly flat.

The trillium quickly takes shape.

After about 10 minutes, the shape is complete.  It will then go to a solderer who will attach a pinback and to finishing where the piece will be cleaned and polished.

Beautiful finished trilliums in copper.

Dogwood: Step by Step

My guide, Mr. Ralph Morris, Junior.  He and his son Joe still run the business.

The 1948 Stuart Nye workshop, where the jewelry is still made.  Next door is the Southern Highlands Craft Guild  shop, where the jewelry can be purchased.  For those of you not in Asheville, it can also be bought online at stuartnye.com.   Especially gorgeous are the bracelets.  My thanks to Ralph and Joe Morris, and to the staff at Stuart Nye for the warm and friendly welcome.

Nye jewelry has long been a popular souvenir of this region, and so vintage pieces are often found throughout the country.  I was lucky enough to get a pair of vintage earrings from Pinky-a-gogo, who is located in New York.

Stuart Nye Hand Wrought Jewelry was part of the crafts revival movement of the early 20th century.  All over the country, people rediscovered traditional crafts such as metalwork, weaving and quilting.  A few of these ventures survive in some manner, such as the Penland School of Crafts and Jugtown Pottery in Seagrove, NC.

An ad from a 1952 Vogue.  They still make these earrings. In fact, I have a pair, bought sometime in the 1980s.

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Filed under Collecting, Made in the USA, North Carolina