It’s been a terrible couple of months for HSF. It’s been a terrible couple of months anyway. Lots of travel, a number of family emergencies, me completely screwing up last month’s challenge and having to start from scratch, my job… it’s been nuts. But with CoCo 2017 just around the corner, I’m determined to get back on track.
(With sewing and blogging… I’m beginning to feel like Creed from “The Office”, writing blog posts and leaving them on my computer.)
But at least in an effort to do something other than hyperventilate about my failed May project, I got my June challenge done, a 1830s style parure:
Does this qualify for the “metallics” challenge? I think so. It’s a costume item, after all, and integral to the outfit I’m putting together for CoCo. (I know it’s jewelry, and I’m not sure if that’s covered…) Anyway!
The Challenge: June Metallics
Material: lab-grown topaz
Notions: bezel cups, jump rings, earring posts (this thing is ALL notions)
How historically accurate is it?: Like, 80%?
Hours to complete: 4-5
First worn: CoCo 2017
Total cost: oh god… something like $190 on the stones and another $80 on the settings… I could have spent a lot more.
As we all know, Costume College decided, for some insane reason, to make the theme this year the 60s. The Saturday night Gala is “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and as probably the only woman in America who hates that movie, I needed to come up with something that made sense for me.
Tiffany’s opened in 1837. I like the 1830s, and thought this would be a great way to keep to theme AND make something I could wear elsewhere, since the 1830s are big here in Texas. I can just imagine some New York society women being thrilled about this wonderful new store in their city, salivating over the possibility of wearing a new necklace and earring set to that season’s first ball.
Jewelry back then came with big, opulent stones, big opulent settings. I mean, they’re gorgeous!
I thought this would be a fun style to emulate, and a really rich color would go well with the white plaid taffeta I’ve got for the hall gown.
The challenge was getting the notions and stones to line up. There was no leeway here. Everything had to be purchased.
I searched for months trying to find bezel settings that matched the extant ones, even slightly. Unfortunately, there aren’t any commercially available bezel cups with ornate detailing on the exterior that permit large stones, like the ones in fashion back then. Too, the connections between stones and the fastener in the back would likely have been custom made by the jeweler, a skill I just do not possess. I had to go with this brand (JBB Findings) that are simpler but retain that antique styling.
This process made me miss the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show something fierce, because I guarantee you I could have gotten a big bag of fake emeralds for cheap, in the exact size that I wanted. The challenge here was size and faceting; these days, most large jewelry cabochons are round-faced with flat blacks, and I needed faceted stones to match the period ones. Most of the modern glass faceted stones are pastel, while the 1830s favored deep rich colors, so I had to go with real stone.
Overall, bezel cup size, bezel cup color, and stone size all had to line up. I must have gone through every major jewelry supply site on the Internet, trying to make this work. Seriously, like a month of insanity on the sourcing.
I finally found some I liked on Etsy… for $11 a stone. Settings were $5 each. I would have needed 19 to make the necklace out of just the larger ovals, as would be period, with another 2 for the earrings. That was not doable. The smaller round stones matched the color, but were much cheaper at $4 per stone and $2 per setting. So I abandoned historical accuracy in the interest of not breaking the bank completely. But at least I got everything together!
Once everything was collected, it was just a matter of setting the stones and linking them together. That was the easy part!
I do really like how this turned out. The photos don’t do the color justice; it’s a deep blue-green that is perfectly period. The only issue is that the stones are deeply pointed on the back, which means they don’t lay perfectly flat on my neck. But for what I was able to spend, I think it turned out very nice.
The best part too is that this style of jewelry goes back a ways, so I can wear it with Regency dresses too! Now onto that ball gown…