14 June 2018

Dealer Spotlight: Amber Fortuna

Amber Fortuna is a unique specialist dealer based within Grays, who deals exclusively in the rarest and finest quality Baltic Amber.

1960s Owl Ornament Carved from Pure Baltic Amber

The Baltic region is home to the largest known deposit of amber anywhere in the entire world. Named ‘Baltic Amber’ or ‘Succanite’, this form of resin dates from 44 million years ago (the Eocene epoch) and it has been estimated by scientific study that this vast forest may have created more than 100,000 tons of amber. 

Amber Fortuna is an expert in the geological properties, as well as the cultural associations, of genuine Baltic amber. Baltic amber is neither a mineral nor a gemstone, but rather a form of tree resin, which has been recognised throughout cultures in Eastern Europe for many centuries for its supposed healing properties. 

Whether or not you buy in to the legend of healing associated with the mineral, anyone can be attracted by the hundreds of different shades of brown, red, yellow and orange which naturally occur in this charismatic, organic substance. 

Amber Fortuna offers a wide range of ornamental objects and jewellery in every colour permutation imaginable. We've picked out a few of our favourites below:

1960s Baltic Amber Beads
1960s Baltic Amber Brooch 

Baltic Amber Ornamental Horse

1960s Baltic Amber Beads

1960s Baltic Amber Multi-Faceted Beads

Amber Fortuna | Ground Floor | Stand 360-361 | amberfortuna.com

8 June 2018

Birthstone of June: Pearl

Pearls are a symbol of feminine style and sophistication. Audrey Hepburn famously wore a five-strand pearl necklace designed by Kenneth Lane in Breakfast at Tiffany's, which was featured in the poster to promote the film. Marilyn Monroe also famously received a pearl necklace: a Mikimoto necklace as a honeymoon gift from her second husband Joe DiMaggio in 1954.  

An iconic image of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Called “the queen of gems”, pearl is the birthstone for June, as well as for the star sign of Gemini. It’s the time-honoured gift given on 1st, 3rd, 12th and 30th wedding anniversaries. Pearls symbolise love and are said to bring fortune and wisdom to those whose birthstone it is, as well as joy and happiness to married couples.

At Grays there's no shortage of  pretty pearl jewellery. Here are just a few of our favourite picks:

 French brooch, platinum mounted bow set with diamonds and natural pearls c.1910, offered by Nigel Norman

Earclips with South Sea pearls, mounted in platinum and set with more than 15 carats of fine white baguette cut diamonds, offered by The Gilded Lily

Edwardian Caduceus in Enamel and Pearl Brooch, offered by Wimpole 

15ct yellow gold cabochon amethyst heart pendant surrounded by pearls, offered by Spectrum

South sea pearl necklace, offered by Michelle Payne

25 May 2018

Art & Antiques in the Age of the Grand Tour

In the rarefied environs of Georgian England's polite society, a young gentleman's education was not complete before he had embarked on The Grand Tour...

'A Water Party' Oil on Canvas by John James Salon. A Landscape depicting a traveling group in a classical landscape. English school. Available at Horton London

The Grand Tour was an extended travel itinerary, which took in the cultural capitals of Europe and provided the perfect opportunity for wealthy aristocrats to collect art and antiques destined for the finest country houses in England.

More than just a holiday, the Grand Tour was an artistic, historical and cultural education. Beyond that, it was a rite of passage and an induction into elite society. Its beginnings lie in the 17th century, as rich Europeans began to explore the world by sea, and reached its peak in the 18th century with travelers passing through the continent by boat and rail. Later in the century young aristocratic women followed suit, but the tour was always primarily the pursuit of sons and heirs.

A typical tour began in Paris and commenced south through France, taking in the Swiss alps on the way to Italy. Italy was the jewel in the crown, with Rome and Venice the pinnacle of any tour. Next, most travelers headed southward to the ancient ruins of Tivoli, Pompeii and Herculaneaum.

Those with the greatest means would visit the workshops of famous artists, commissioning elaborate works of art such as marble statues and family portraits. Those with less might pick up jewellery such as roman style intaglio's, or metal-ware and ceramics depicting Arcadian landscapes and classical temples.

Here at Grays you can browse the wonders of Europe's artistic past like Georgian aristocrats, without stepping foot outside of London!

We've picked out some of the most curious and beautiful items of the Grand tour era available now...

Swiss Gold and Enamel Brooch Depicting Children in a Rural Setting. Produced c1820 for tourists passing through Geneva on the Grand Tour. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company

Italian Maiolica roundel, produced in Castelli c1730. Available at Guest & Gray

Blue Sapphire Brooch in the shape of the ceremonial cap of the Venetian Doge. Italy, 19th Century. Available at Peter Szuhay

Carnelian Intaglio ring engraved with the faces of Julius Caesar, Marc Anthony and Octavius. Probably Rome, c.1770. Available at Peter Szuhay

Large Micro Mosaic depicting the Roman forum in Gilt Frame. Rome c.1820 . Available at Peter Szuhay 

Ring of Carved Coloured Lava from Mount Vesuvius, Sold in Naples c1820 to tourists on the Grand Tour. Available at The Antique Jewellery Company

19 May 2018

Wedding Days

In the week leading up the Royal Wedding - with fever pitch at an all time high, especially surrounding Meghan's wedding dress - we thought we would take a trip down memory lane and have a look at the beautiful brides captured on their wedding days throughout history...

Queen Elizabeth II. wed Prince Philip in November 1947. Hton Archive/Getty. Image courtesy of Southern Living

Jackie Kennedy wed John.F.Kennedy in September 1953. Bachrach/Getty. Image courtesy of  Southern Living

Elizabeth Taylor wed Conrad 'Nicky' Hilton in May 1950. Frank Worth courtesy of Capital Art/Getty. Image courtesy of Southern Living

Grace Kelly wed Monaco's Prince Rainier in April 1956. 3777/Gamma Rapho via Getty. Image courtesy of Southern Living

Kate Middleton wed Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in April 2011. Anwear Hussein/Wire Image/Getty. Image courtesy of Southern Living

If you need inspiration for a wedding gift for the upcoming season, then why not visit us here at Grays  where you will see a spectacular display of beautiful items waiting to be discovered.

Beautiful set of 12 German silver beakers, c1900. Available from Evonne Antiques
John Paul Cooper silver mounted shagreen box. The catch is in the form of a rose, with J.P Monogram stamp. c1917. Available from Van Den Bosch

Victorian, silver plated very unusual shape biscuit box, c1879. Available from AMS Antiques

Below image showing the inside of the biscuit Box.

Beautiful silver Art Nouveau picture frame, c1900. Mauser N 'F G' Co  New York. Available from Evonne Antiques

An Arts and Crafts silver tray with liqueur glasses. Charles Robert Ashbee. Markers guild Handcraft Limited, London 1901. Available from Van Den Bosch
1905 Birmingham, jewellery box. In the style of a furniture piece. Available from AMS Antiques

Inside the above jewellery box.

Beautiful top quality silver biscuit box, Sheffield 1939 J.Dixon. Available from Evonne Antiques

Tortoiseshell with silver mounts hand blotter, Birmingham 1924. Available from Evonne Antiques

H.E.Landon - an Arts and Crafts silver bowl. The lid insert turquoise, Maker's mark Chester 1934. Available from Van Den Bosch

Tortoiseshell with silver mounts tea caddy, London 1902. Available from Evonne Antiques

Hammered effect silver cigar/cigarette box, London 1905. Available from Evonne Antiques

Side and interior view of the above box.

Beautiful silver Art Nouveau bud vase, Edinburgh 1903. H.Matthews. Available from Evonne Antiques
Silver and tortoiseshell jewellery box, London 1913. Available from Evonne Antiques

The above photo showing the interior of the tortoiseshell jewellery box.

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