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

1 March 2018

Birthstone of March: Aquamarine

March is here! And with March the beautiful blue stone aquamarine, comes to the fore. Aquamarine is found in a myriad of blue hues: the name comes from the Latin term 'aquamarina' meaning 'water of the sea.' Like seawater, aquamarine can be pale to light-blue, dark-blue, blue-green and green-blue. The more saturated the colour, the higher the value, although almost all aquamarine is typically a lighter blue tone.

At Grays, we discovered lots of stunning pieces adorned with this March birthstone. Here are some of our favourite picks..

Art Deco Santa Maria aquamarine brooch/pendant, available from Miwa Fine Jewellery
Edwardian bar brooch, available from Miwa Fine Jewellery
Vintage aquamarine ring, available from Westleigh Antiques
Contemporary semi hoop 18ct earrings, emerald cut aquamarine, available from Michelle Payne 
18 carat gold mounted aquamarine and diamond stone set ring, c1960,
available from Shapiro & Co 

Aquamarine and diamond bracelet, available from Westleigh Antiques

Aquamarine & diamond pendant, Edwardian, available from Emmy Abe

22 February 2018

'Sixties Style: Shot by Duffy' Exhibition at Proud Central Gallery London

Proud Central Gallery, is currently exhibiting 'Sixties Style: Shot by Duffy ', until the 18th March 2018. The exhibition celebrates the bold appearances that defined London's colourful 'Swinging Sixties' era. 

Recognised for his exemplary collaborations with David Bowie, Brian Duffy photographs are an integral record of modern Britain, exploring the youth-driven cultural shift within art, music and fashion. The exhibition has a diverse collection of photographs, many unpublished since the 1960s, depicting fashion, editorials, celebrity portraiture and international advertising campaigns as Duffy captured the lifestyle trends in this pivotal decade. 

Jill Kennington On The Love of Queen Magazine, 1965. Photograph by Brian Duffy. Image courtesy of Pinterest

Fashion for Vogue, Florence, 1964

 Jean Shrimpton
A 1961 photograph by Duffy for Vogue, top, with the model Judy Dent on Westminster Bridge, in London. Photograph: Duffy/Getty Images . Image courtsey of The Guardian

Michael Caine by Brian Duffy, 1964. All pictures: © Duffy Archive. Image courtsey of The East Anglian Daily Times

Brian Duffy – E-Type Jag, 1960 (Left) / Queen Mag – Love, 1968 (Right). Image courtsey of Wide Walls

If you are feeling inspired by the swinging sixties, then why not head to Grays, where you will find an eclectic mix of 1960s pieces waiting to be discovered. 

Circa 1960s, Arts and Crafts EPNS Candlesticks with Cabochon Stones. Available at Jack Podlewski

1960s, 18ct White Gold Oval Amethyst Ring (Surrounded by a border of diamonds). Available from Spectrum

1960s Solid Silver Open Bangle Decorated with Barb Wire. Available from Spectrum

1960s Kristoff Art Deco Thermos Flask. Available from Jack Podlewski

Corum 1960s, 18ct Gold Watch and Diamond Encrusted Dial. Available from Nigel Norman

1960s, 14ct Gold Oriental Lady with Sapphire and Ruby stones, holding a bunch of flowers, with a pearl stone head piece.
Available from Spectrum

1966 Birmingham Silver Cigarette Box, with machine design to the top of the box. Available at Hallmark Antiques

1960s Silver Round Photo Locket with 1920s Photograph Inside. Available at Spectrum

1960s Anthony Altson Sterling Silver 3 Piece Cruet Set. Available from Jack Podlewski

1960s 18ct Ruby and Diamond Drivers Watch, with gold face and black numerials and hand. Available from Nigel Norman

1960s Sapphire, Diamond and Ruby 18ct White Gold Versatile Flip Ring. Available from Nigel Norman

16 February 2018

Chinese New Year

Today marks the start of the new Chinese New Year. The festival itself lasts 15 days made up of family gatherings, food rituals, offerings at temples, dressing up and taking part in street parades. It is also a time to wish loved ones good fortune for the future.

It also marks the start of the Year of the Dog. The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12 year cycle and each year has a corresponding animal. Zodiac signs play an integral part in Chinese culture, and can be used to determine your fortune for the year.  The characteristics of those born in the Year of the Dog are not dissimilar to those dogs have. These people are considered to be brave, loyal, and have a strong sense of right and wrong.

At Grays our dealers have a superb collection of Chinese treasures that would make wonderful gift offerings for the new year, here's a small selection:

Pair of Blue and White Porcelain Vases, c.19th century, available from Arts of Asia

Chinese blue and white dish, Kangxi mark and of the period (1662-1722). Available from Guest & Gray

An 18th Century Chinese Famille Rose Export porcelain charger, available at Eau de Nil

Selection of snuff bottles, available at Wheatley Antiques

Blue and white porcelain of the late Ming early Qing period, available from Anita Gray 

Carved Celadon Jade Ornament, Qing dynasty, available from Antique Choices

20th century enamel snuff dish, available from Hongman Yang

This 18th century Chinese moon flask depicts the struggle between a dragon and a phoenix in etched and crackle-glazed porcelain, available from Antique Choices
Xin Nian Kuai Le!
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