Kate is no stranger to my blog, in fact she was one of the first collections I documented on here back in January of 2013! Since then we’ve gotten the opportunity to meetup and spend a few days together in London along with our jewelry bff Jenn (@bellflowerbay) and Kate has gotten married! Her jewelry collection has grown since then and she has not only added some wedding jewels, but a whole lot more! If you haven’t read her interview/collection story from four years ago, I suggest you read that first, then check out her amazing collection:
I’ve been collecting jewellery for about eight years, although the passion for all things old and sparkly has been burning for much longer!
I think it all started with my Gran – she’s given me pieces from her jewellery collection over the years, as well as some things from my Great Aunt too. My Gran wasn’t really much of a collector, but the pieces she does have are sentimental and unique. When she was younger she had a real love for stopping and browsing the jewellers’ windows in our local town. She wasn’t able to splash out that much, so perusing these shop windows was often as good as it got. She often tells me the story of how she fell in love with a diamond solitaire ring around the time of her 21st birthday. She was given money by her family as a present which was enough to buy the ring, but she sensibly (she says!) decided on buying a good quality carpet for her living room instead. The carpet apparently lasted many, many years, but she does say to this day that she regrets not choosing the ring. What I’d give to know what it looked like!
(Left: all rings I’ve been given by my Gran. Right: my collection of Art Deco rings, some of the early additions to my collection, all presents from over the years from my parents and husband)
With her lovingly gifted antique pieces, little did my Gran know at the time that she would spark a real passion in me for collecting antique jewellery. As soon as I began working fulltime and had a little cash to spare, I moved quickly from buying sterling silver and vintage costume jewellery, and on to collecting gold and diamonds. It’s taken a few years to refine my knowledge and hunting skills, and my tastes do still vary week to week, but it’s a love affair that grows stronger for me every day – and one my husband has so lovingly accepted too.
I’m lucky that my mum also has a real love of antique jewellery – we often go shopping together for new pieces. We share similar tastes too, which means we pretty much have one large collection between us both.
My jewellery collection spans from early Georgian right through to modern pieces, I definitely like to collect a variety of styles, stones and metals.
One of my favourite eras has to be Georgian – the passion they had for creating such beautiful, detailed jewellery and with minimal tools, it’s something that I think is truly hard to recreate these days. As the years pass, Georgian pieces are harder and harder to find, which makes the hunt even more fun!
(Left: some of my favourite diamond rings although one is an imposter, (L-R) Georgian table cut diamond flower ring, antique Victorian rose cut diamond fox ring, Victorian rock crystal five-stone ring, Art Deco diamond evil eye ring. Right: one of my most treasured pieces, a Victorian rose cut diamond pendant)
People who know me and my jewellery collection know that I have a slight addiction to rose cut diamonds. I think it’s something about their irregularity and one-of-a-kind nature that really draws me to them.
I also have a real thing for antique animal jewellery too. I think it’s one of those loves you don’t really know you have, until you take stock of your collection and realise you can fill a whole ring case with creature-themed jewels!
(My animal themed rings – I think my love for this motif stems from my love of animals. One of the rings above is a close replica of my beloved German Shepherd, Cleo.)
Another love of mine has to be Georgian and Victorian mourning jewellery – the sentimentality behind each and every piece really moves me and I love the idea of having something beautiful made to represent your loved one. One of my most cherished pieces is a sepia mourning ring with a beautiful ruby halo. The words on the front read ‘Not lost but gone before’ and the reverse is engraved with the details of a precious 9 month old girl named Elizabeth who died in 1773 – I think this is actually one of the oldest pieces I own.
(Left: my collection of mourning rings. Right: I love to mix up eras, stones and metals – here I’m wearing an antique opal and diamond halo ring with a vintage silver and dendritic agate ring.)
I know it’s a predictable answer, but without a doubt my most precious piece in my collection is my engagement ring. It’s a Georgian sacred heart ring, made up of foil-back rose cut diamonds set in a beautifully soft rose gold. It was a surprise choice by husband and I was completely stunned when he showed me the ring – it was the day I finally realised that all the years I spent going on and on about antique jewellery, he was actually listening!
(Left: I managed to include my love of rose cuts in my wedding earlier this year – the earrings were a gift from my mum and the gun metal and diamond swallow cufflinks were my gift to my husband. Right: My husband’s antique rose gold wedding band with my floral engraved rose gold wedding band and my Georgian diamond flaming heart engagement ring.)
Since our wedding earlier this year, I’ve added to my most treasured and sentimental jewellery collection. I think when it came to deciding on what I’d wear for the big day, I spent more time picking my jewellery than I did my dress! My mum gave me the most beautiful rose cut diamond and pearl drop earrings to wear. I’m not really much of an earring person but I love how special these make me feel when I wear them.
I also didn’t want to leave my husband out when it came to our wedding day jewels. On the morning of our wedding, I made sure his best man gave him a little parcel from me, containing two antique gun metal and rose cut diamond swallow cufflinks. Swallows are often used in jewellery to symbolise the safe return of a loved one. I thought these would make the perfect gift to make sure he arrived at our ceremony safely and on time!
I collect pretty much all types of jewellery – including brooches, necklaces, bracelets, charms and stick pins. I’ve been trying to wear brooches recently on my coats and scarves – I’ve collected them for years and I think it’s such a shame when pieces aren’t really worn. I’m a big believer in getting enjoyment out of what I own, I hate to think of pieces never seeing the light of day. When I wear pieces, I often try and imagine the sort of lives they’ve had and the sights they’ve seen over the years.
(Left: a selection of antique and vintage brooches – I love the romantic symbolism some of these hold including the garnet witch’s heart and the eternal snakes. Right: my ever growing stick pin collection.)
If I don’t get wear out of items then I try and think of a new way I can make the most of them – I’ve converted several brooches into necklaces, and stick pins into rings. I love how repurposing these pieces gives them a new lease of life and it means they are pretty much unique pieces too!
(Left: some of my favourite necklaces – the arrow and evil eye necklaces are both antique brooch conversions. The middle turquoise necklace is one of my favourite finds from Portobello Antiques Market in London. I fell in love with it during a trip but decided to leave it behind. Luckily, when I visited again a few months later it was still there waiting for me. Right: my gold charm collection.)
I also love to collect antique jewellery boxes too – many of which I’ve picked up with antique jewellery purchased over the years. It’s a rarity now to find a piece and its box, sometimes the boxes are worth almost as much as what’s inside them, but there’s really special about finding a new piece of jewellery to add to your collection and having the antique box thrown in too.
I live in England so most of my favourite places to treasure hunt are in the UK. I’m lucky to live close by to York, a historic city full of quaint little antique shops lining picturesque cobbled streets. They also have the most incredible homemade fudge shop for when you need a sugar boost.
I also love to visit Portobello Antiques Market in London when I can – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wider variety of antique jewellery dealers in one placed anywhere else.
I’m also lucky to be surrounded by several antique auction houses and fairs – although I love to rummage through packed stalls, I think I love the thrill of bidding on an item and winning at auction the most. The first time my mum and I went to an auction, we were so excited by it all we didn’t even feel all that bad when we were outbid.
My best piece of jewellery hunting advice? Don’t dismiss the antique shops, stalls and auctions that don’t offer all that much in the way of jewellery – you never know what you might find, and sometimes these are the places that have the best bargains. I’ve found some of my most favourite pieces in the most unlikely of places!
You can follow Kate –> @heartofsolidgold