12 April 2018

Last Chance: Egypt Uncovered - Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I at Sir John Soane's Museum

The sarcophagus (a box-like funeral receptacle for a corpse) of Pharaoh Seti I is the most treasured object within the Sir John Soane’s Museum’s collection in the Sepulchral Chamber, and, according to exhibition curator Joanna Tinworth, “one of the most important objects ever found in Egypt”. 

To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I by circus strongman-turned-Egyptologist, Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823), the Soane presents an exhibition about its journey to the museum and its discoverer.

Jan Adam Kruseman, Portrait of Giovanni Belzoni, “the Great Belzoni,” 1824

Seti I’s strong military experience played a major role during his 13 year reign (BC 1291-1278) and is considered by Egyptologists the greatest pharaoh of the New Kingdom. The craftsmanship of his sarcophagus, elaborately carved in white alabaster, took even Belzoni aback, ‘being such as we had no idea it could exist’. 

It was purchased by John Soane in 1824 and became the centrepiece of his collection around which ‘sarcophagus parties’ were held for London’s elite. Guests were invited to view the sarcophagus in the evening lit by lamplight, and illuminated from within. The design of the lighting was supervised by Soane himself, contrasting light and shadow to create an atmosphere thick with romance and melancholy.

Sarcophagus of King Seti 1, discovered by Belzoni in 1817

With the emergence of important ancient tombs from the nineteenth century onwards, an "Egyptian revival" was born, making Egyptian motifs and imagery all the rage. It was reignited again when King Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922, when its influence could be seen in architecture and fashion. 

At Grays we have a wonderful selection of Egyptian revival jewellery from this period, here's just a small example of what our dealers have on offer.. 

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Tings Jewellery Box

Egyptian revival locket, offered by Tings Jewellery Box


Vintage Egyptian revival bangle, available from Arabella Bianco

Egypt Uncovered: Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I will run until April 14.

6 April 2018

The London Coffee Festival 2018

The London Coffee Festival, held at Old Truman Brewery, 12-15 April

Calling all coffee lovers! Next week The London Coffee Festival comes to the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane for a celebration of London’s vibrant coffee scene.

From the 12th to 15th April the venue will host the UK’s largest coffee and artisanal food event, featuring gourmet beans, speciality tea, fine food and demonstrations from the world’s best baristas, as well as live music and workshops.

Learn to create masterpieces in Latte Art Live, or let your hair down at the ‘Espresso Martini Party’ where you can indulge in Bailey’s own ‘flat white martinis’. 

Hosted by Allegra Events, The London Coffee Festival began in London seven years ago, and has grown year on year. When the organisers were asked why exactly they decided to bring this unique festival to London they replied: ‘London was becoming the most relevant and exciting city on the world coffee map, it was obvious what had to happen... A party had to be thrown’.

If you do decide to join the party, and come away laden with fine roasted grounds and speciality teas, why not stop by Grays for sensational serveware?

From 18th century Turkish coffee cups to Art Nouveau biscuit barrels, we’ve handpicked some of our most unique pieces to help you serve in style..


Austrian porcelain coffee cup with saucer and plate, 20th century. Available at Mousa Antiques

A selection of Oriental coffee servers. From left to right : Japanese 17th century, Chinese 18th century, Chinese 18th century, all available at Anita Gray


Russian solid silver 'Plique-a-jour' enamel spoon set, c.1900. Available at Pushkin Antiques

Turkish Kutahya province coffee cups, 18th century. Available at Pyramid Antiques

Iraqi silver niello milk jug, 20th century. Available at IQ Antiques

Art Nouveau biscuit barrell and Arts and Crafts sugar caster,19th century. Available at Van Den Bosch



29 March 2018

Victorian Giants: The Birth of Art Photography - Exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery


The National Portrait Gallery is currently showing, 'Victorian Giants: 'The Birth of Art Photography’,  until 20th May, 2018. This major exhibition is the first to examine the relationship between four ground-breaking Victorian artists: Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79) Lewis Carroll (1832-98) Lady Clementina Hawarden (1822-65) and Oscar Rejlander (1813-875).
Drawn from public and private collections internationally, the exhibition features some of the most outstanding images in photographic history. Influenced by historical paintings and more commonly associated with the Pre-Raphaelite era, the four formed a bridge between the art of the past and the art of the future. They revolutionised the use of photography, hence why they are referred to as ‘The Victorian Giants’.   
Showing women as they really were … Clementina Maude by Clementina Hawarden, 1863-4. Photograph: © Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Image courtesy of The Guardian


Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, 1857, by Lewis Carroll Photograph: Lewis Carroll/National Portrait/PA. Image courtesy of The Guardian

 Photographic Study (Clementina and Isabella Grace Maude), 1863-64, by Clementina Hawarden
Unidentified Young Woman, 1863-9, by Oscar Rejlander

If you're feeling inspired by the past, and would like to capture elements of the exhibition, then why not come and visit us here at Grays, where you can see our gorgeous selection of pieces waiting to be discovered...



Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame with a photo of unidentified woman. Available at Tings Jewellery Box



Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame, both photographs source unknown. Available at Tings Jewellery Box
Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame with a photo of unidentified woman. Available at Tings Jewellery Box


Birmingham 1918, Photo Frame. Available at Jack Podlewski

Victorian Thumbnail Size Photo Album of Hastings. Available at Tings Jewellery Box


Solid Sterling 925 Silver, Birmingham, 1904. Available at AMS Antiques Ltd
Victorian Thumbnail Size Photo Album. Available at Tings Jewellery Box
Victorian Gold Brooch Photo Frame, with an unidentified photo of a child. Available at Tings Jewellery Box



Birmingham, 1901 Silver Photo Frame. The inscription on the bottom of the frame says, 'A Portrait by J.Cecil Gould Weybridge'. Available at  Jack Podlewski

22 March 2018

Swing into Spring

On March 21, the sun crossed over the equator signifying the March Equinox; the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The days are gettting longer and brighter, temperatures are starting to rise, flowers are blossoming, plants are flourishing in time for summer - it's a season of renewal and change!  It's not surprising this time of year is the period when we feel most positive. 

The origin of the term "spring cleaning" varies, some say it dates back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime festival of Passover. Some researchers trace the origin of spring cleaning to the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, which falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of "khooneh tekouni," which literally means "shaking the house," just before the Persian new year.

Spring symbolism is abundant at Grays. Here are a few delightful items that will put a 'spring' in your step!


A fine and early group modelled by J.J. Kaendler, depicting the goddess Leda seated beside a swan and garlanding flowers around its neck, c1745. Available from Serhat Ahmet Antiques.

Chinese famille verte mustard pot and cover, Kangxi (1662-1722). Available from Anita Gray


Vintage cloisonné brooch, available from Arabella Bianco


Butterfly brooch with turquoise, available from Alice Gulessarian


Diamond drop earrings, available from Westleigh Antiques


Enamel compact with birds on a blossom tree scene, available from Raysil Antiques



Pear shaped pendant set with mint quartz surrounded by floral like multicoloured tourmalines, set in 18ct rose gold. By Isabel Langloise, Paris. Available from Horton London
Russian silver gild and enamel salt dish, c1890 by Vasiliy Agafonov. Available from Tabunov Antiques


15 March 2018

St Patrick's Day: A Celebration of the Symbols of Ireland at Grays

 St Patrick's Day, which falls on 17 March each year, is the annual celebration of Ireland's patron saint and the date which marks his death. St Patrick travelled to Ireland in the fifth century to convert the largely pagan country to Christianity. It is said that the use of the shamrock as the country's symbol is largely thanks to him, since he is purported to have used the three-leaved clover to describe the Holy Trinity to non-believers.

Here in London, each year a whole schedule of festivities is planned and runs for the entire weekend: over 125,000 people are expected for this year's festival, which starts Friday 16 and runs until Sunday 18 March.

At Grays, we've put together an Irish - and Irish inspired - jewellery edit. Could one of these beauties be your lucky charm?:
Early 20th century box made from Irish bog oak & carved with shamrocks and a depiction of Blarney Castle. Available from Alison Massey
Claddagh ring made in Dublin 1928. The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. Available from The Antique Jewellery Company

1960s Silver Shamrock Heart Locket Pendant. Available from Tings Jewellery Box


Silver Harp Brooch: National Emblem of Ireland, and Guinness! 1960s. Available from Tings Jewellery Box



1950s Vintage Costume Brooch. Available from Tings Jewellery Box

Shamrock Brooch, Sapphire and Diamonds. Available from Miwa Fine Jewellery

Silver Blarney Stone Ring, Irish Shamrock Design. Inscription: Genuine stone from grounds of Blarney Castle, Ireland. Available from Arabella Bianco

8 March 2018

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Still hunting for a special Mother's Day gift? We're here to help..

Two vintage costume brooches, Available at Gillian Horsup



There are just two full shopping days left before Mother’s Day , which this year falls on Sunday 11th March.

Like many festivities, Mothering Sunday began with a religious purpose.

Always held exactly three weeks before Easter Sunday, it was a originally a day to honour and give thanks to the Virgin Mary, or ‘Mother Mary’.

Whilst the tradition evolved throughout the centuries as a general day of thanks and gratitude towards families and mothers, it did not hold a prominent a place on the UK calendar until the after the First World War.

During the war Americans and Canadians began to celebrate Mother's Day, as a way to give thanks to their mothers whilst away at war and send their thoughts back home from the trenches.

This idea was picked up by soldiers from the United Kingdom and across Europe, and the day has been widely celebrated here ever since!


If it's something unique you are looking for this year, check out our handpicked items all available now from the wonderfully eclectic dealers at Grays:


Chinese Armorial Teapot, Qianlong period. Available at Anita Gray

French Silver Plated Fruit Bowl, c1900. Available at AMS Antiques

A pair of Chinese 19th Century Teapots. Available at Parsia Antiques and Calligraphy

Chinese 19th Century Enamel Trinket Box, available at Parsia Antiques and Calligraphy

18ct Gold Ladies Chopard Timepiece, c1980. Available at World Time

Mughal Pendant Encrusted with Dimaonds, Rubies and Emeralds. c1850 Available at IQ Antiques

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