18 August 2016

August 20 - National Honey Bee Day

World Honey Bee Day (previously referred to as Honey Bee Awareness Day) was founded in 2009 by beekeepers within the United States to raise awareness of bee keeping and the bee industry. This is done through education and promotion, and by honouring honey bees and bee cultivation world wide. 

Honey Bee

On this day, bee lovers everywhere decorate their gardens with lavender, borage and marjoram, which are considered the bee’s knees in pollinator lures. A honey bee is naturally distinguished by the production and storage of honey, but also by the construction of perennial, colonial nests made from wax. The most well-known honey bee is the Western honey bee which has been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination.

Drones (males) are made from unfertilised eggs, thus represent solely the DNA of the queen that laid the eggs. Workers and queens (both female) result from fertilised eggs, and therefore have both a mother and a father. Worker bees join forces to seek out food and use a pattern of "dancing" (known as the bee dance or waggle dance) to communicate data relating to resources with each other. Honey bees also perform tremble dances, which recruit receiver bees to gather nectar from returning foragers.

Here at Grays we honour World Honey Bee Day by displaying some of our own beautiful honey bee related items;

Bee brooch, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Hulkin + Heath silver swivel jar made in Birmingham 1920, available from Evonne Antiques 

Czech bee brooch, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

Honey jar, Sheffield 1912, available from Jack Podlewski

Perspex bee brooch with gold and black body and clear wings, available from Linda Bee

Yardley powder box with bee decoration, available from Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

11 August 2016

Afternoon Tea Week

Afternoon Tea Week is in full swing and will run until 14 August. People throughout the UK will be celebrating one of the nation's favourite culinary pastimes with exclusive events and activities taking place at various locations.

Afternoon Tea is a tradition believed to have been started by Anna Maria Stanhope, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in 1841. It began with Stanhope's daily ritual of tea and a light snack to fill the gap between lunch and dinner. She would invite friends to join her, thus creating a new social event that became an important part of British society, still enjoyed today.

At Grays, we have found all the tea paraphernalia you could need to host an exquisite tea party!

Embossed sugar caster, Birmingham 1907, from AMS Antiques 

1930s Norwegian enamel spoons, from AMS Antiques 

1910 Birmingham sugar snips or tongs, Elkington & co, from AMS Antiques
Silver tea strain, Birmingham 1946, from Jack Podlewski

1920s Mappin & Webb tea strainer, from Jack Podlewski

Silver tea strainer with handle, 1913, from Jack Podlewski

Silver tea strainer, Birmingham 1929, from Jack Podlewski

German loose tea strainer spoon, from Jack Podlewski 

1900 silver pierce sugar bowl, from Raysil Antiques

1900 glass and silver sugar shaker, from Raysil Antiques

5 August 2016

Peridot: August's Birthstone

Peridot is the birthstone for the month of August. It is also the stone given to celebrate the sixteenth year of marriage. Peridots are clear with a distinct oily luster and their colour is often described as yellow-green, green with a golden tone, olive or bottle green, deep chartreuse, or just an excellent light green. The stone is one of a number of gems that aren't routinely treated and therefore the richness of its colour is often exceptional and completely natural.

Peridot isn't solely formed here on earth, but has also arrived to Earth from outer space! Many different gems have been found in meteorites, but peridot is the only gem that has been found in large enough sizes to create jewellery from.

In 1749, a meteor landed in a desolate area of Siberia. It had been found to contain several pieces of peridot crystals large enough to be set into jewellery. Nowadays most of the peridot mined comes from China, Pakistan and Arizona. Two of the best peridot collections in the world can be found at the Field Museum in Chicago, and also the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Here is a selection of some of the best peridot jewellery at Grays:

1950s Flower basket brooch. 18ct gold set with sapphire, amethyst, peridot, aquamarine and diamond. Available from The Antique Jewellery Company

Citrine Art Deco 18k Yellow Gold Ring with Aquamarine and Peridot, available from Leila in the Mews

1930s Peridot Dress Ring, available from Westminster Group

Edwardian Peridot Diamond Ring,  available from Sylvia Williams

Victorian Peridot & Ruby Bracelet, available from Alfred Toro
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