1904 Magazine Article
NOVEMBER 1904 issue of THE MODERN PRISCILLA, Boston, Massachusetts
The following is from an unsigned article, titled "INEXPENSIVE NECKLACES", the November 1904 issue of The Modern Priscilla, Boston, Massachusetts. The cover price was 5 cents a copy!! The article starts a little slowly, but keep going and you will find an interesting opinion of glass blown faux pearls and even some hints on cleaning jewelry. While reading this, keep in mind that this was before the era of "costume jewelry". I have capitalized certain words and added breaks to make it more readable.
In the first paragraph, I have to wonder what name we have given to the Indian black "compressed rose leaves". And what were the Tasmanian shells? abalone?
"There are many kinds of inexpensive necklaces, which are prized chiefly for their color and originality. Nothing surely can be more common than common GARDEN PEAS, and yet I have seen them threaded in a double row, dried in the sun, and then lightly tinted with some green dye, the result being a necklace which puzzled more than one connoisseur. Large peas are best suited to the purpose. Then, too, melon seeds, dried and strung alternately with very small gold, or rather gilt, beads, look remarkably pretty and original. Several rows should be worn. The MECCA BERRIES, green and red are more difficult to procure, but they make the prettiest necklaces imaginable. They are oval, hard, and bright and so perfect in form that it seems almost incredible that they are only seeds. In fact -- though I have repeatedly been informed by credible persons that they had bought them from pilgrims journeying from the spot in question -- I myself, entirely in secret, hold the belief that they are made of LAQUER, and devised for the special purpose of entrapping the unwary. In any case they are pretty in color, and most becoming, and effective. BRAHMIN BEADS beads are rough, rich, btown seeds. They look well with crimson or terra-cotton dresses. I have seen them mounted in silver acorn cups, and made up with silver oak leaves. BETEL-NUT beads are mottled brown and yellow; EBONY beads may be fancied, though there is little about them to touch the imagination; and SANDAL-WOOD, too are well known.
There is also a black composition, which comes from India, and is said to be made of COMPRESSED ROSE LEAVES. Other seeds and berries can be used in the same way. I have even seen pieces of various colored Indian REEDS strung together, and what is more, they look well.(Break)
SHELLS, too, come in beautifully for necklaces, from the homely COWRIE and little "SOLDIER" shell, found in such abundance on every shore, to the exquisite TASMANIAN SHELLS, whose color varies at each movement of the wearer, but always looks so splendid. It is not generally known that strong acid will bring off the rough outside which shrouds the beauty of some of our common shells, and prepare them for playing a greater and more beautiful part as ornaments. Venetian shell necklaces are common but it is a long time since I have seen one of those which were once to be had in Venice, composed of small black SCALLOP-shells alternating with silver ones. There was really something artistic about these and the same may be sai of the pretty little gilded or gold COCKLE-shells sold at Mont St. Michel in remembrance of the Order of St. Michael. Gold LACQUER BEADS, looking like the sealing-s\wax with little bits of gold imprisoned in it, in fashion about thirty or forty years ago, or like a coarser AVENTURINE, are also very pretty; some shop-keepers call it GOLDSTONE, but it is only lacquer. It is very heavy, and rather expensive."
"I often wonder why TYROLESE GARNETS are not more worn. They are very rich and brilliant in color, and often most artistically set. They are extremely becoming to persons with a fair complexion, and not expensive, especially in Saxony and Bohemia. In the Tyrol, too, very beautiful TURQUOISE ornaments are sold for a trifle. They are made of the stones which are not considered good by jewelers, because not pure in color; but the green shades, which render them comparatively valueless, are the making of them from an artistic point of view."
"IMITATION PEARLS can only receive faint commendation from me. Inferior garnets and turquoises may be just as beautiful as the best stones, and are still the work of Nature's own hand; but when men blow glass beads, and fill them with wax mixed with the pearly essence of fishes' scales, in order to impart that mysterious pearly something called water, the intent to deceive must be there, and the knowledge of this detracts from the pleasure we must feel in the undeniable success of the imitation.
Blue books inform us that false pearls are manufactured in France to the value of $400,000 a year. The ROMAN PEARLS are almost prettier than the French. Their color is darker and smoky-looking, and the beads are more irregular in shape, generally having a little dent or compression in them. There are special shops in Rome where false pearls are to be bought, and it is wonderful how cheap a necklace of well-made Roman pearls, with a heart-shaped pendant, is. Necklaces of very small MOTHER-OF-PEARL beads are sold in Syria, and have very much the same effect as real pearls. Large beads of the same kind are also worn; in fact, mother-of-pearl is extremely pretty, whether large or small, especially when linked together with silver."
"One of the strangest necklaces brought from Syria consists of a number of very rude representations of the HUMAN HAND in BLUE GLASS, all strung together. This comes from Hebron, and is worn to avert the EVIL-EYE -- indeed, almost all Eastern necklaces have amulets in them. Speaking of ornaments for the neck, one thing is very certain, and that is, that, go where you will, you find people quick to seize on the common objects lying about them, and turn them into articles of decoration or of merchandise. In India the natives twist up a golden-looking GRASS into chains, composed of the most carefully formed links, which, seen from a little distance, appear like gold itself. In Madeira your guide, while slowly toiling up a hill on foot after your HORSE, plucks a HAIR from the poor animal's tail, which link by link he fashions into a chain."
"I have left myself no space to speak of AGATES and CATS'-EYES, or of the superior beauty of uncut to cut stones. I have not named the pretty CRYSTAL ORNAMENTS set in silver which are made in Normandy, or the tasteful and artistic BIJOUX BRESSANTS, BERLIN IRON WORK, dark Russian silver, WHITBY JET, enamel, filigree-work, tinted and not tinted. Danish and Florentine SILVER, have perforce been omitted. BEETLES' wing and "St. Iona's holy stones" have received never a word; but I just just say that if any one has the patience to thread a great many yards of the very small bright gold-colored GLASS BEADS, and wears them in many coils round her throat, they will look just as well as the lovely gold chains which are the specialty of Venice.
I will conclude this, my very imperfect sketch, with one friendly hint as to the most satisfactory method of CLEANING gold necklaces, bracelets, or gold ornaments of any kind, where the work is not too fine. Buy twenty-five cents worth of box-wood powder from any working jeweler. Put it in a small linen bag, and when your gold ornaments want cleaning, put them in the bag amongst the box-wood powder, and shake them about in it. It will make them bright almost directly; but do not treat filigree work or very delicate ornaments in this way. The fine work which is often found on Danish jewelry can be cleaned by pouring SPIRITS of WINE over it."
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Janet W. Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297
Website est. February 1997