25 May 2017

Chelsea Flower Show: Floral Treats from Grays

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has begun! The legendary annual event this year takes place between 23 and 27 of May in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. The event showcases the best in garden designs and horticultural exhibits. Our highlight for 2017 is Greening Grey Britain, a garden designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett, which provides a range of ideas on how you can turn your grey English community yard or garden into a place that everyone can enjoy.

Feeling inspired by the show's displays - and the beautiful weather we're having! - we've selected our pick of Grays' floral pieces.

Rare Meissen hot water jug, decorated in the rich onion pattern, c1860-80. From Serhat Ahmet.

1920s Chinese jade brooch, certified as real natural jade, undyed. Available from Wheatley Antiques.

Victorian yellow gold flower spray brooch set with seed pearls rubies and emeralds. Available from Spectrum.

Stratton compact with enamel lid, c1990s. Available from Arabella Bianco.


Antique vases aren't just for looking at, why not make functional
use of them and fill them with flowers?

Pair of 19th century Parisian porcelain vases, from Mousa Antiques

Pair of early 20th century porcelain 'Moonflasks', probably English. From Mousa Antiques.


18 May 2017

The Great Pyramids

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world and also the last one still in existence. Until the Lincoln Cathedral was built in England in 1311, the great Pyramid of Giza held the title for the world´s tallest man-made structure, it held the record for an unbelievable 3871 years!

The pyramids are implausibly precise structures. The three Giza pyramids are perfectly aligned with the Constellation of Orion. In Ancient Egypt the stars of Orion were associated with Osiris, the god of rebirth and afterlife, perhaps hinting at the purpose of these great buildings. Most typically believed to be tombs for the Pharaohs, no mummies or remains were ever found within the pyramids. Additionally, no writing or hieroglyphics have been found within the great Pyramids of Giza, creating more mystery surrounding their original purpose.

Another Pyramid known as Cheops faces true North and is the most accurately aligned to North of any structure in the world. Despite being created millennia ago, the pyramid still faces that direction with just a marginal error. However, this is as a result of the North Pole shifting slowly over time, which suggests that at one time the pyramid was spot on.

Menkaure's Pyramid

There was an attempt to destroy the Giza pyramids in the 12th century. Al-Aziz, a Kurdish ruler and the second Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, tried to demolish them however had to give up because the task was too immense. Ultimately he did succeed in damaging Menkaure's Pyramid where he left a large vertical gash in its north face.

At Grays, we have Egyptian or Egyptian inspired treasures waiting to be discovered. Here's a few of our top picks..

Egyptian high status shabti statue, 664 - 332 BC. Available from Antique Choices.

A pair of scarab earrings by Askew of London. Available from Linda Bee.

Egyptian gold finger ring with 18th Dynasty carnelian frog, 1543 - 1292 BC. Available from Ancient Jewellery

Egyptian lapis lazuli fish 10th - 15th Century AD. Available from Habibi Oriental Antiques.

Egyptian gold and scraboid ring, 1795 - 1550- BC. Available from Ancient Jewellery.

11 May 2017

Hokusai : Beyond the Great Wave. Japanese Art at Grays

Clear day with a southern breeze (Red Fuji) from Thirty-Six
Views of Mt Fuji. Colour woodblock, 1831. On display 25 May – 13 August at The British Museum


This May the British Museum will present "Hokusai : Beyond the Great Wave" an exhibition focusing on the later works of Katsushika Hokusai (1760- 1849) one of Japan's most famous and influential artists. His long career displays a fascination with the natural geography of Japan, most notably with the great Mount Fuji.

Hokusai is best known for his woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, many of which will be on display. The mountain became something of a personal obsession for the artist, as with many who came before him.

A popular subject in Japanese Art, Mount Fuji has a long history of cultural and religious significance. One of the earliest incarnations of its myth is The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, in which the elixir of life is burnt at the summit. It was said that this is the smoke which can sometimes be seen rising from the top of the mountain (which is in fact an active volcano!)

To celebrate the upcoming exhibition and the enduring influence of Mount Fuji on Japanese Art, we have selected some beautiful pieces here at Grays Antiques, depicting or inspired by the mountain and by Japan's natural beauty.

Wood sculpture depicting dragon atop Mount Fuji, lacquer interior. Two views. Japan, 19th Century. Offered by Peter Sloane 

Iron inlaid miniature case dating from the Meiji period. Offered by David Bowden

One of a Pair of six- panel folding Japanese Screens, c1890-1920. Offered By David Bowden

Rare Satsuma dish, painted central landscape depicting Mount Fuji and the Moon, gilt square seal mark Offered by Anita Gray

     'Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave' runs from 25th May -13th August  at The British Museum.

4 May 2017

May's Birthstone: Emerald

Emeralds are one of the four most sought after precious stones, along with rubies, sapphires and diamonds. The emerald conveys a more complex set of symbolism and emotions. It is the most calming of all the colours, encouraging growth, reflection, peace and balance. This, along with the gem’s rarity, makes the stone a unique alternative to a traditional diamond engagement ring.

Below is our top emerald picks available at Grays.

18ct emerald and diamond ring 1920s. Available from Westminster Group.

1960s diamond and emerald ring. Available from Boris Sosna.

Diamond & Emerald Ring. Available from Alexandra Engagement Rings.

Edwardian emerald and diamond target engagement ring. Available from DB Gems.
Emerald and baguette Art Deco ring Available from John Joseph.

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