How to Buy Lapis Lazuli Antique Jewelry

How to Buy Lapis Lazuli Antique Jewelry

Lapis Lazuli has been loved since antiquity for its intense, vibrant cobalt blue color. It can be flecked with either white or gold (calcite or pyrite).

A metamorphic rock, mainly composed of the mineral Lazurite, it usually originates from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia or Chile. It is also mined, to a lesser extent, in Italy, Mongolia, the United States, and Canada.

Below you will find some of the many applications for Lapis Lazuli in antique and vintage jewelry:

Pietre Dure

Lapis Lazuli is also one of the principal stones used on Italian Pietre Dure (micro-mosaics).

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Necklace, 1808, Pietra dure, lapis lazuli, chalcedony, gold. The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Acrostic

The Georgians and the Victorians, with their passion for acrostic jewelry (‘The Language of Stones’) used Lapis Lazuli to represent the letter ‘L’ for ‘Love’.

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Acrostic Pendant. 1830. V&A Museum.

Cameo and Intaglio

Many beautiful examples can be found of Lapis Lazuli used in cameo and intaglio.

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Lapis Lazuli Cameo. 1580-1600. Italy. V&A Museum.

Arts & Crafts

The Arts & Crafts movement designers favored Lapis Lazuli as the stone fitted in with their ‘beauty before perceived value’ philosophy.

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Arts and Crafts Pendant 1903. May Morris. Set with a variety of stones, including lapis lazuli. V&A Museum.

Art Deco

Art Deco Jewellery designers prized Lapis Lazuli as it suited their vibrant, bold styles.

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Art Deco Lapis Lazuli Diamond Gold Earrings. Elder and Bloom.

Cartier stands out as a design company who loved to use Lapis Lazuli during the Art Deco era.

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Lapis Lazuli Brooch. Cartier 1920-1930. V&A Museum.

Imitations

There are four other stones that can be mistaken for Lapis Lazuli and should be watched out.

These are:

  1. Dyed Jasper or Howlite. It will have a cobalt blue color but will not show the white or golden patches. (Known as ‘Swiss Lapis’).
  2. Sodalite, which is one of the components of Lapis Lazuli, looks similar but the color is much paler.
  3. There is a synthetic spinel which also imitates Lapis Lazuli. (Known as ‘Gilson Lapis’). This looks very similar but does not have the same random patterns shown in natural Lapis Lazuli.
  4. Azurite is not as hard and has a darker tint.

Tip: To see if a stone has been dyed, try removing the color with acetone.

Final note:

Lapis Lazuli has, of course, been used as a paint pigment since the late Middle Ages and has been a favorite of many of the great artists. This beautiful painting by Vermeer showcases not only Lapis Lazuli as a paint pigment but also a style of pearl earring from the era.

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‘The Girl With a Pearl Earring’. Vermeer.

It is highly recommended that only you purchase antique and vintage jewelry from a recognized dealer.

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The Greek Key Motif in Antique and Vintage Jewelry

The Greek Key Motif in Antique and Vintage Jewelry

Most of us will recognize the ubiquitous Green Key motif even if we are not aware of the name or the origin.

There are many variations – sometimes the pattern is rectangular and sometimes it is rounded, sometimes there is a simple geometric design, and other times is more elaborate and complex. It may border an object or cover a larger area.

If the decoration forms interlaced patterns, it is known as Guilloche. However, two elements remain consistent – the design is maze-like and repetitive.

The ‘Greek Key’ motif in jewelry can also be known as:

  • The ‘Running Dog’.
  • The ‘Greek Fret’.
  • The ‘Maze Pattern’.
  • The‘Labyrinth Pattern’.
  • The ‘Meander Motif’.

The name is derived from the River Meander, the historical name for the Büyük Menderes River in contemporary Turkey. The River Meander had many twists and was mentioned by Homer in the Iliad.  

There is also said to be a connection between the motif and the Cretan labyrinth.

Earliest Examples

  • The earliest examples of the motif have been found in the farming communities in Anatolia, 6000 BC and it was a common pottery design throughout Neolithic Europe.
  • It was the most important symbol in ancient Greece, decorating many temples and objects.
  • Interestingly, the Ancient Chinese developed a similar design known as ‘Chinese Fretwork’. 
  • Variations of the motif are also found in African, South American, and Native American designs.
  • It is also reminiscent of many Celtic design elements. 

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Symbolism

  • To the Ancient Greeks, the design symbolized infinity or the ‘eternal flow of things’.
  • It is also said to symbolize friendship, love, and devotion and is given as a marriage gift to this day.
  • It is also thought to represent the four cardinal points or the four seasons. 

Georgian, early Victorian Neo-Classical and Architectural Revival

  • The Georgian era was distinguished by several great archeological discoveries that greatly influenced Georgian jewelry motifs.  When the ruins of Pompeii were excavated from 1706 to 1814 a wave of Neo-classical design influenced almost every area of manufacturing, art, and craft.
  • In the 1760s in particular, Roman and Greek motifs, such as Greek Keys and laurel and grape leaves, abounded.
  • The Greek Keys motif was particularly popular on the mountings of cameo. 
  • The Greek Keys motif continued in popularity through the Victorian era and remains popular to this day.
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Fine Antique Coral Cameo Brooch within a Frame Accented By Greek Key Motifs And Applied Ropetwist Borders, With Pendant Hook, Mounted in Gold c.1801-1908 Prices4Antiques

Art Deco

  • The Greek Keys Motif experienced another wave of popularity during the Art Deco era.
  • However, many have said that the designers of the Art Deco era were, in fact, deriving their ‘Greek Key’ motifs from the Egyptian designs that were being uncovered during the great archeological discoveries of the era. This makes some sense as the Art Deco era is not known for its neo-classical styles, besides the Greek Key, but is, of course, renowned for its Egyptian Revival styles.
  • Regardless of the inspiration, the motif is still referred to as ‘Greek Keys’.
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Art Deco Greek Keys bangle. Elder and Bloom.

How to Buy Theodor Fahrner Vintage Jewelry

Are you in love with original Theodor Fahrner jewelry? If so,  you’re not alone – many discerning vintage jewelry aficionados are.

Sparkling and iconic, utterly glamorous and creative, yet so very wearable, Theodor Fahrner jewelry will never go out of style. But, before you purchase, it is wise to educate yourself on the subject.

Who were Theodor Fahrner?

  • Theodor Fahrner was a renowned German costume jewelry company that rose to prominence as a manufacturer of Jugendstil, Celtic Revival, Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts designs. They also produced Art Moderne and Contemporary styles.
  • However, they are probably best known today for their Art Deco jewelry.
  • The company, in common with the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, believed that design and workmanship were more important than the value of the materials used.
  • As well as one-off pieces, they mass-produced affordable yet very stylish jewelry.

They became well known for use of:

  • Low karat gold
  • Gilt silver
  • Cut steel  
  • Amethyst
  • Chalcedony
  • Quartz citrine
  • Turquoise
  • Rock crystal
  • Coral
  • Opals
  • Pearls  
  • Enamel work
  • Filigree
  • Granulation
  • Marcasite (iron pyrite)

Today, Theodor Fahrner pieces are considered highly collectible and have broad appeal.

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Offered by Tadema Gallery. 

Important dates

1855

  • Theodor Fahrner was founded in 1855 in Pforzheim, Germany, by Theodor Fahrner and Georg Seeger. The company’s focus was on producing rings.

1883

  • In 1883, the company was taken over by Fahrner’s son, also named Theodor.

1900

  • In 1900, the company was awarded a silver medal at the Paris Exposition.

1900 to 1919.

  • The company became known for its simple steel pieces.

1901

  • TF trademark registered.
  • Began to export to Britain.
  • Collaborated with Murrie, Bennett & Co.

1919

  • Theodor Fahrner junior died in 1919 and the company was then bought by Gustav Braendle.  After this point, it used the trademark Fahrner Schmuck and was known as Gustav Braendle – Theodor Fahrner Nachfolger.

1922

  • They began to create Art Deco designs in 1922.

1932

  • In 1932 they began to produce their signature filigree and granulation collection.

1945

  • Factory destroyed by a bomb and many designs were lost.

 1952

  • Gustav Braendle died and the firm was taken over by his son Herbert.

1960s

  • Produced modern silver pieces with stones and Roman and Egyptian Revival motifs.

1979

  • Herbert Braendle died and the company closed.

Designers

Darmstadt Artists Colony Artists 1899 – 

  • Joseph Maria Olbrich
  • Paul Burck
  • Ludwig Habich
  • Patritz Huber

Others

  • Franz Boeres (Collaborated with Theodor Fahrner 1905-1919)
  • Max Josef Gradl (Collaborated with Theodor Fahrner 1899-1910)
  • Hermann Häussler (Collaborated with Theodor Fahrner as enameler 1908-1911)
  • Julius Muller-Salem
  • H.C. van de Velde
  • Georg Kleeman

Trademarks

Mark:   Original Farhner 925      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon. 

Mark:   Original Farhner 925      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon. 

Mark:   "TF & Germany      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

Mark:   “TF & Germany      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

 Mark:   Fahrner made some jewelry for Murrle, Bennett and Co. which was signed with both their marks    Courtesy Cathy Gordon

 Mark:   Fahrner made some jewelry for Murrle, Bennett and Co. which was signed with both their marks    Courtesy Cathy Gordon

 Mark:   TF 935 Depose     Courtesy Cathy Gordon

 Mark:   TF 935 Depose     Courtesy Cathy Gordon

Mark:   TF & 935      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

Mark:   TF & 935      Photo courtesy Cathy Gordon.

  Mark:   Fahrner, TF, 925     Courtesy Ron Maranto

  Mark:   Fahrner, TF, 925     Courtesy Ron Maranto

        Mark:   TF, 935, Depose, PH (PH for Patriz Huber who designed exclusively for Fahrner from 1901-1902)     Courtesy friend of RCJ
Mark:   TF, 935, Depose, PH (PH for Patriz Huber who designed exclusively for Fahrner from 1901-1902)     Courtesy friend of RCJ

Artist Marks (often used alongside Trademark). 

Courtesy of Lang’s Jewellery University. 

Paul Burck   

Paul Burck

Max Josef Gradl

Max Josef Gradl

Ludwig Habich

Ludwig Habich

Patriz Huber

Patriz Huber

Josef Maria Olbrich

Josef Maria Olbrich

H.C. van de Velde

H.C. van de Velde

Useful information when buying

  • Theodor Fahrner cannot be older than 1855 but must be from before 1979.
  • If it is Art Deco in style, it must be at least from 1922.
  • If it has filigree and granulation, it was probably created after 1932.
  • Unsigned pieces were produced. These are worth considerably less than signed pieces but can still be beautiful.
  • If you are considering purchasing some Theodor Fahrner jewelry, it is always wise to consult a reputable dealer.