What Costume Jewelry Is, and Isn’t

After reviewing the Wearables department of Dogbotz Boneyard, Claire wanted to know what exactly constitutes “costume jewelry.” In her e-mail she asked, “Isn’t any cheap jewelry made from the 1930s on referred to as costume jewelry in today’s market?” And my response is, “Well, no, not exactly!” To genuinely appreciate what constitutes costume jewelry, you need to understand the three major categories of jewelry: fine, bridge and costume.

When I think of fine jewelry, my mind automatically turns to the renowned French designer of classic jewelry and watches, Cartier. And, if I consider the works of Cartier, I note that what makes them excellent examples of fine jewelry is that his pieces are all made with precious metals such as platinum and karated gold. In addition, his jewelry is often set with precious gemstones  — be they diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires. So, fine jewelry is made, in essence, of precious metals and precious gemstones

Bridge jewelry, on the other hand, is exactly what its name implies — a transitional style between fine and costume jewelry. Like its more flashy cousin, bridge jewelry is also composed of previous metals, most frequently silver; however, semi-precious gemstones such as amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, grant, opal and topaz are used instead. How do you know if a gemstone is semi-precious or not? Simple: If it’s not one of the four gemstones listed in fine jewelry, it’s deemed “semi-precious.”

Examples of bridge jewelry sold through Dogbotz Boneyard include the pieces made by jewelry designer Darlene Soyka.

Movie producer Cecil B. DeMille first coined the term costume jewelry in the 1930s to describe non-precious jewelry. Following the logical progression of the first two types of jewelry, one can easily conclude that costume jewelry made with base metals that are gold-, rhodium- or silver-plated (often called “gold tone” or “silver tone”) and set with “artificial” faceted-glass stones such as rhinestones or crystals. Think the brand name Swarovski here.

Numerous sub-categories of costume jewelry exist. For example cloisonné refers to costume jewelry that has enamel divided by sections of metal, whereas as diamante means “set with rhinestones” In addition, as it uses non-precious materials, costume jewelry has been made from a great gamut of materials, including papier-mâché, celluloid and Bakelite.

But, beware: Just because costume jewelry is not composed of precious metals or precious or semi-precious gemstones, it isn’t necessarily “cheap.” In fact, collectors of vintage costume jewelry have paid up to $5,000 and more for a single piece of jewelry. For example, a high quality piece of Bakelite jewelry in excellent condition may cost well into the thousands. On the opposite side of the costume jewelry spectrum, the necklaces, earrings and bracelets made by contemporary jewelry designers such as Kenneth Jay Lane and Napier are reasonably priced and available through large department stores.

Here are some wonderful and diverse examples of bridge (the first three images) and costume jewelry (the final six) that Dogbotz Boneyard offers:

Finally, only jewelry that catches your eye and pleases you is truly worth buying and collecting!

Continue to sparkle,

Patrick Price
Proprietor
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
http://www.dogbotz.com

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Voices of the Stone Nation

My dear friend Amy was curious as to why Dogbotz Boneyard, an online resale shop of eclectic vintage items, would also include in its store inventory totem carvings, fetishes and spheres made from gemstones, fossils, or petrified wood. “Patrick, I mean, really, a hematite fox fetish or a sphere of bloodstone?”  Amy questioned in a recent e-mail. “Shaker ladder-back chairs, primitive stoneware jugs, and Nemadji Pottery vases, I can understand — these are vintage goods. But an orb of Peruvian blue opal?”

When my partner Dan and I first contemplated the mission of Dogbotz Boneyard, we wanted not only to promote the concepts of reselling, recycling, and repurposing to help protect Mother Earth’s valuable resources but also to focus on natural substances. When one considers that the Great Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch has increased 100-fold in the last 40 years, the last thing we need is more plastic. Thus, the immediacy for reselling, recycling, and repurposing existing products as well as selling natural goods that eventually biodegrade seems all too apparent. Hence, at Dogbotz Boneyard, we focus on the sale of naturally made products, of which stones fall into this category, in addition to the resale of usable vintage items.

Yet equally as important, as a First Nations man, I believe that all the peoples of Earth Mother (and here I am not merely referring to the diverse communities of humanity) have something to teach us, if we just remain quiet and listen to their voices. Native cultures (whether Lakota, Maori, Celtic or Yoruba) know that the Stone Nation is the eldest voice of Earth Mother, as the stones, caverns, sands and soil have shaped her flesh throughout the millennia. Since this nation’s life existence far exceeds our own brief mortal journey, much ancestral memory, spiritual awareness, and perennial wisdom is contained therein. Thus, the Elders remind us that the stones have much to teach and we have much to learn from them.

My intent here is not to present a treatise on the healing vibrations or spiritual teachings of each type of stone, precious or not. Many books have been written on this subject by longtime practitioners who use stones in healing work, meditations and visualizations, and/or spiritual or shamanic journeys. Nonetheless, for the novice, I do recommend Healing with Crystals and Gemstones by Daya Sarai Chocron and The Book of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian (what a delightfully palindromic name!). These are the main texts I review when describing the healing voices of the stone carvings, fetishes, and spheres sold through our Etc. Department at Dogbotz Boneyard.

Instead, my goal is to challenge you to take the time to marvel at the ancient beauty and experience the mystery of stones. Pick one up and consider its colors, structure, texture, hardness, and so on. Hold it, if you can, between your palms and then be still while breathing deeply and listening to what it has to share. When we begin honoring what nature has to offer us in terms of guidance, we understand that each voice of the Stone Nation (well, any nation for that matter, be it four-leggeds, wingeds, herbs, trees, creepy crawlers, or the celestial beings) has a unique story that heals us. And so, when we need to strengthen team dynamics, the imagery of cohesive scales of Dragon Septarian can show us the way. Or if we need to remember the potent messages of our dreams, we have a friend in the silver striations among the midnight field of Black Tourmaline.

Thus, we make available such natural guides at Dogbotz Boneyard. Here are a few examples:

All the best,

Patrick Price
Proprietor
Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

A Brief Introduction to Shaker Artifacts

We recently heard from a young mother who was intrigued by the Shaker artifacts that we have available at Dogbotz Boneyard, both in the Furniture and Home Goods categories. However, as she considers herself to be a novice, contemplating whether to start collecting Shaker goods, she asked if we could provide a brief introduction to Shaker artifacts.

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, known as the Shakers, is a religious sect originally thought to be a development of the Religious Society of Friends. Founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee, Shakers today are mostly known for their cultural contributions (especially in music and furniture).

The Shakers’ dedication to hard work and perfection has resulted in a unique range of architecture, furniture and handicraft styles. They designed furniture with care, believing that making something well was in itself, “an act of prayer.” Before the late 19th century, Shakers rarely fashioned items with elaborate details or decoration, making only things for their practical intended uses. The ladder-back chair was a popular piece of furniture. Shaker craftsmen made most things out of pine or other inexpensive woods; thus, their furniture was light in color and weight.

Early 19th-century Shaker interiors are characterized by an austerity and simplicity. For example, they had a “peg rail,” a continuous wooden device with pegs running all along it near the lintel level of a room. Shakers used the pegs to hang up clothes, hats, and very light furniture pieces such as chairs when not in use. At the end of the 19th-century, however, Shakers adopted some aspects of Victorian decor, such as ornate carved furniture, patterned linoleum, and cabbage-rose wallpaper.

Shakers won respect and admiration for their productive farms and orderly communities. Their industry was the crucible for many unique inventions; for example, the rotary harrow, the circular saw, the clothespin, the flat broom and the wheel-drive washing machine. Shakers were also the first large producers of medicinal herbs in the United States and pioneers in the sale of seeds in paper packets.

By the middle of the 20th century, as the Shaker communities themselves were disappearing, some American collectors whose visual tastes were formed by the stark aspects of the Modernist movement were attracted to the spare artifacts of Shaker culture, in which “form follows function” was also clearly expressed. Other artifacts of Shaker culture are their spirit drawings, dances, and songs, which are important genres of Shaker folk art.

Examples of Shaker artifacts that you can find and buy through Dogbotz Boneyard:

Be well, and enjoy the weekend.

All the best,

Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com

The Seven Metals of Antiquity

Through its Metalwork department, Dogbotz Boneyard offers a variety of collectible metal resale items to our customers. And, we keep adding to our inventory!  We provide metal goods from brass to cast iron, from copper to tin.

However, since we’ve heard from some novice metalwork collectors who’d like to know more about the different metals, we decided to provide you with a brief presentation and outline of process metallurgy, which is one of the oldest applied sciences.

The history of metallurgy can be traced back to 6000 BC. Admittedly, its form at that time was rudimentary. Prior to the 19th century, only 24 of metals had been discovered and, of these 24 metals, 12 were discovered in the 18th century. Therefore, from the discovery of the first metals (gold and copper) until the end of the 17th century, approximately  7700 years later, only 12 metals were known, of which four — arsenic, antimony, zinc and bismuth — were discovered in the 13th and 14th centuries, while platinum was discovered in the 16th century.

The other seven metals, known as the Metals of Antiquity, were the metals upon which civilization was based. These metals were known to the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans. Of the seven metals, five can be found in their native states — gold, silver, copper, iron (from meteors) and mercury. However, the occurrence of these metals was not abundant, and the first two metals to be used widely were gold and copper. And, of course, the history of metals is closely linked to that of coins and gemstones. These seven Metals of Antiquity include:

  • Gold, circa 6000 BC: Gold articles are found extensively in antiquity mainly as jewelry, for example, pendants, bracelets and rings. Early gold artifacts are rarely pure and most contain significant silver contents.
  • Copper, circa 4200 BC: The use of copper in antiquity has more significance than gold since the first tools, implements and weapons were made from copper. However, when copper was hammered it became brittle and would easily break. The solution to this problem was to anneal the copper. By 3600 BC, the first copper-smelted artifacts were found in the Nile valley as were copper rings, bracelets, and chisels. A much later discovery, known to the Chinese around AD 1400, is the alloy brass, composed of liquid copper and zinc.
  • Silver, circa 4000 BC: Although silver is found freely in nature, its occurrence is rare. Silver is the most chemically active of the noble metals, and it is harder than gold but softer than copper. It ranks second in ductility and malleability to gold. It is normally stable in pure air and water but tarnishes when exposed to ozone, hydrogen sulfide or sulfur. Due to its softness, pure silver was mainly used for ornaments, jewelry and as a measure of wealth.
  • Lead, circa 3500 BC: Lead is not found free in nature but galena (lead sulfide) was used as an eye paint by the ancient Egyptians. Galena has a very metallic looking appearance and was, therefore, likely to attract the attention of early metalworkers. At first lead was not used widely because it was too ductile, and the first uses of lead were around 3500 BC. Lead’s use as a container and conduit was important and lead pipes bearing the insignia of Roman emperors can still be found.
  • Tin, circa 1750 BC: Native tin is not found in nature. The first tin artifacts date back to 2000 BC; however, it was not until 1800 BC that tin-smelting became common in western Asia. Tin was reduced by charcoal and at first was thought to be a form of lead. Tin was rarely used on its own and was most commonly alloyed to copper to form bronze. The most common form of tin ore is the oxide casserite. By 1400 BC, bronze was the predominant metal alloy.
  • Iron (smelted), circa 1500 BC: Iron was available to the ancients in small amounts from meteors. This native iron is easily distinguishable because it contains 6-8% nickel. There is some indication that manmade iron was available as early as 2500 BC; however, iron-making did not become an everyday process until 1200 BC. Hematite, an oxide of iron, was widely used by the ancients for beads and ornaments. Iron weapons revolutionized warfare and iron implements did the same for farming. Iron and then later its alloy steel were the building block for civilization.
  • Mercury, circa 750 BC: Mercury was also known to the ancients and has been found in tombs dating back to 1500 and 1600 BC. Pliny, the Roman chronicler, outlined purification techniques by squeezing it through leather and also noted that it was poisonous. Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is the only metal which is liquid at room temperature. Although it can be found in its native state, it is more commonly found in such ores as calomel, livingstonite, corderite and its sulfide cinnabar. Mercury was widely used because of its ability to dissolve silver and gold (amalgamation) and was the basis of many plating technologies.

Now, Dogbotz Boneyard doesn’t offer many products made of lead or mercury, for obvious reasons. However, we do offer those made of gold and silver (particularly in our Wearables section) as well as copper (and it alloy brass), tin (and its alloy partner, bronze), and iron (plus its alloy steel) in our Metalwork department.

Here are some examples currently available for purchase:

Have fun as you explore and buy some of our great metalworks!

All the best,

Dogbotz Boneyard, LLC
www.dogbotz.com