Tag Archive | Ortak

Amethyst: February birthstone

The deep rich purple of amethysts is so appealing. The stone, a form of quartz, is traditionally the birthstone for the month of February.

Naturally when I see a lovely piece of amethyst jewellery I try to get it for my Etsy shop. Below are some of my snaffles:

Kupittaan Kulta caged amethyst pendant, designed by Elis Kauppi. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

1970 amethyst flower ring, hallmarked in London. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

NE From modernist amethyst ring – a great example of Danish design. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

A 1990 Celtic style brooch with a central facetted amethyst, by Malcolm Gray of Ortak on the Orkney Islands, Scotland. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

A 1972 amethyst and sterling silver choker, by Daedalus Ltd of London. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

This could almost be part of a set with the necklace above: it too dates from 1972. This amethyst and sterling silver ring was made by Magnus Maximus Designs in Cumbria. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

An amethyst and sterling silver modernist bar brooch by NE From of Denmark. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

A stunning amethyst orb ring from 1968 by the Danish master, Hans Hansen. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

Caged amethyst and sterling silver bracelet. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

1970s modernist amethyst and sterling silver adjustable ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

1967 NE From amethyst necklace, a superb piece of Danish modernist design. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

1970s amethyst pendant and chain. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

Arts and Crafts style amethyst and sterling silver brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Huge 1930s Arts and Crafts facetted amethyst ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Amethyst and silver tone plated modernist ring. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

Jugendstil amethyst and 935 silver brooch in the form of ginkgo leaves. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

NE From modernist amethyst wishbone ring: more Danish deliciousness. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

Danish ring featuring a tumble polished amethyst in a silver plated frame. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

Amethyst is such a popular stone it is also mimicked in glass, also known as amethyst paste or crystal:

Amethyst paste and sterling silver brooch by Charles Horner. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

1970s modernist stainless steel and amethyst glass hexagonal link bracelet. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

Victorian amethyst paste and pinchbeck brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop, Inglenookery: click on photo for details.

A Charles Rennie Mackintosh Mockintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) is the most iconic of all Scottish Arts and Crafts designers. Glasgow-born and based Mackintosh was a talented architect, furniture designer, artist, and more. His works have inspired a range of replicas and items inspired by his designs, and these are fondly known as ‘Mockintoshes‘ (I’m a sucker for a bit of word play).

I recently acquired a piece of silver jewellery, a pendant, in a style that I thought was almost certainly Mackintosh, but with a motif I didn’t recognise. The pendant has two turbaned figures with what look like long capes facing each other. They are so stylised that it is easy to look at the design and not see the figures immediately.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh-inspired sterling silver pendant by Malcolm Gray of Ortak. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh-inspired sterling silver pendant by Malcolm Gray of Ortak. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

I wondered what the inspiration for the piece was. Some internet truffling was in order. Luckily for me I hit pay dirt in the first place I looked: the Wikipedia page on Rennie Mackintosh:

Cabinet designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada. Photo by Tony Hisgett.

Cabinet designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada. Photo by Tony Hisgett.

Going to the Royal Ontario Museum website, I found that the cabinet was designed by Rennie Mackintosh in 1902, and made by Francis Smith and Son in Glasgow that same year. The cabinet is in white painted oak, and the insides of the doors are lined with silver foil inlaid with a design in coloured glass of a woman holding a stylised rose in the design known as the Glasgow Rose. The Museum acquired its example in 1983-4.

More truffling showed that Mackintosh’s original design for the cabinet (accession no GLAHA 41118) is held by the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow. The Hunterian holds a huge collection of material by and related to Mackintosh. The pair of cabinets were designed for Mrs Rowat (the mother-in-law of Mackintosh’s friend and mentor, Francis Henry Newbery) for the living room of her house at 14 Kingsborough Gardens, Glasgow.

Mackintosh had a duplicate pair made for his own home in Glasgow, and this pair is now on display in ‘The Mackintosh House’ in the Hunterian Museum (accession nos GLAHA 41221 and 41222), where they can be seen flanking one of the fireplaces.

As well as featuring the Glasgow Rose, the design also features the heart-shaped leaf motif known as the ‘cicely leaf’ or ‘cecily leaf’. Both motifs were used by Mackintosh and so are often found in Mockintoshes. I’ve written a short blog post on the cicely leaf motif here.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society website.

Moss agate

Moss agate is such a beautiful and appealing stone, with its beautiful dark green mossy filaments and sometimes with rusty red or occasionally black inclusions as well. It occurs naturally in Scotland, and so it comes as little surprise that it was, and is, commonly used in Scottish jewellery.

Moss agate is a form of chalcedony, and is sometimes called dendritic agate. Both ‘moss’ and ‘dendritic’ refer to the organic appearance of the filaments within the stone. Despite their appearance, they are mineral rather than vegetable!

I am fascinated by moss agate and always try to have some in my Etsy shop. Below are a selection: some are for sale and some have already sold (marked as such).

Handmade moss agate ring, hallmarked 1970. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch.

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1962. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1962. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1962. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Moss agate Celtic brooch by Thomas Kerr Ebbutt, hallmarked Edinburgh 1965.

Moss agate Celtic brooch by Thomas Kerr Ebbutt, hallmarked Edinburgh 1965. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Vintage Art Deco moss agate ring.

Vintage Art Deco moss agate and sterling silver ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Vintage Art Deco moss agate pendant and chain, 1920s 1930s design. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Vintage Art Deco moss agate pendant and chain, 1920s 1930s design.

Moss agate bangle, 1971.

Vintage moss agate and sterling silver bangle, 1971. Click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage modernist ring by N E From with moss agate.

Vintage Danish modernist ring by N E From with moss agate and sterling silver. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch.

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1971. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage Scottish moss agate ring, 1964.

Vintage Scottish moss agate ring, 1964. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Moss agate ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Moss agate ring. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Oval moss agate ring, with a Celtic style sterling silver mount.

Vintage oval moss agate ring, with a Celtic style sterling silver mount. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1957. Click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1957. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1965. Click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

Vintage John Hart Scottish moss agate and sterling silver brooch, 1965. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Coming up roses

I’ve just realised I seem to have a lot of rose jewellery in my shop at the moment. This is totally unintentionalI think I must have have a subconscious thing for the little beauties!

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Grann & Laglye Skønvirke malachite and silver brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

From Denmark, I have a beautiful Grann & Laglye Skønvirke malachite and silver brooch with a rose border. Skønvirke (meaning ‘beautiful work’, and which is often anglicised to Skonvirke) was a development of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements as developed in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Grann & Lagyle was founded in 1906 in Copenhagen, Denmark by Jalhannes Lauritz Grann (18851945) and Johannes Laglye (1878?). The firm finally closed in 1955.

Also Scandinavian, probably from Denmark, and from the same period I have a lovely Skønvirke pendant with a rose design:

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Scandinavian, probably Danish Skonvirke rose pendant and chain. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

I also have an Art Nouveau style ring with a lovely rose design, made by Chritsoph Widmann of Pforzheim, Germany. This design is known as the Hildesheimer Rose, and is named after the wild or dog rose (Rosa canina) that grows up the walls of Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. This famous rose is said to be over a thousand years old.

Art Nouveau style 835 silver ring by Christoph Widmann of Pforzheim, Germany, with a Hildesheimer Rose design. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Art Nouveau style 800 silver ring by Christoph Widmann of Pforzheim, Germany, with a Hildesheimer Rose design. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

I also have a socking great modernist silver tone metal pendant with a rose design (well, I say roseit just as easily could be a camellia or a gardenia or similar). This takes some wearing, as it weighs almost 20 g.

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Big silver tone metal rose pendant. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

And finally I also have a Malcolm Gray Ortak sterling silver and enamel brooch, with a design inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and featuring a Glasgow Rose.

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Malcolm Gray Ortak sterling silver and pink enamel Glasgow Rose brooch, inspired by the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

And to go with the jewellery roses, here are a few flowery beauties that I have photographed:

Madame Hardy, in our garden, June 2006.

Rosa ‘Madame Hardy’, in our garden, June 2006. This beautiful damask rose has a tiny green button at the centre of the white flowers.

Rosa 'Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison' in our garden, June 2006. The buds of this spoil very easily in the rain.

Rosa ‘Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison’ in our garden, June 2006. The buds of this spoil very easily in the rain.

And again, in June 2007.

And again, in June 2007.  Rosa ‘Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison’ is a climbing bourbon rose.

Rosa 'Constance Spry' growing up an apple tree in my sister's garden in Devon.

Rosa ‘Constance Spry’ growing up an apple tree in my sister’s garden in Devon. This is a climbing shrub rose with gaudy pink flowers of the most gorgeous cupped shape.

and here’s a photo of the Hildersheimer Rose growing against the wall of the apse of Hildesheim Cathedral:

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Vikings ahoy!

December 2016 update: I always seem to have Viking ship jewellery in my shop. Click here to see the current selection.

More by accident than designand a very happy accident at thatI have three Viking ship brooches in my Etsy shop at the moment. I think they show longships, as opposed to the other kinds of Viking sea-going vessels.

Fabulous David-Andersen Viking ship brooch, dated to between 1924 and 1939, for sale in my Etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

Fabulous David-Andersen Viking ship brooch, dated to between 1924 and 1939. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

The jewel in the crown is an exquisite silver and enamel brooch by the renowned Norwegian firm of David-Andersen. The craftsmanship in this piece is stunning, and shows why David-Andersen enamelwork is so highly thought of.

The brooch can be dated quite closely to between 1924 and 1939, as the combination of 925 (sterling) silver and a particular form of the maker’s mark for the company was only used in this period. This brooch design is rarely seen and so is highly collectable.

The second Viking ship brooch dates from 1946 and was made by the Birmingham firm of Shipton and Co. It is solid sterling silver and was hallmarked in Chester (I wonder why a Birmingham firm didn’t send their silver to the Birmingham Assay Office to be hallmarked, rather than the Chester one?). It is very reminiscent of the popular Iona silver Celtic-style jewellery, made famous by designer Alexander Ritchie:

For sale in my Etsy shop. Click photo for details.

Sold sterling silver Viking ship brooch, made by Shipton & Co of Birmingham and hallmarked 1946 in Chester. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

The third brooch is also the youngest one: it was made by famous silversmith Malcolm Gray of the Ortak silversmithing firm on the Orkney Islands, and hallmarked at the Edinburgh Assay Office in 1981:

Sterling silver Viking longship brooch by Malcolm Gray of Ortak, hallmarked Edinburgh 1981. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details.

Sterling silver Viking longship brooch by Malcolm Gray of Ortak, hallmarked Edinburgh 1981. For sale in my Etsy shop: click photo for details. (NOW SOLD). September 2015 update: I have another of these for sale, also from 1981. Click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

This brooch is also solid sterling silver. The hallmarks and Gray’s maker’s mark are tiny, and barely visible among the textured dimples on the back of the brooch. The choice of subject matter is a fitting one, for the Vikings were an integral part of the history of these islands. The people of the Shetland Islands, north of the Orkneys, remember their Viking heritage every year with the Up Helly Aa festivals, and one day Chap and I are going to make it up there to see the festivities.

Update 22 June 2015: I have a new Viking ship brooch, by Aksel Holmsen of Norway, and dating from the 1930s:

Viking ship brooch in 830 silver, by Aksel Holmsen of Norway. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Viking ship brooch in 830 silver, by Aksel Holmsen of Norway. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

Malcolm Gray Ortak sterling silver Viking ship brooch, 1975. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Malcolm Gray Ortak sterling silver Viking ship brooch, 1975. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

September 2015 update. A couple more Viking ship brooches:

A Shetland Silvercraft brooch from 1968:

Sterling silver Viking ship brooch by Shetland Silvercraft, 1968. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details.

Sterling silver Viking ship brooch by Shetland Silvercraft, 1968. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photo for details. (NOW SOLD).

and a tiny mystery:

Tiny enamel and sterling silver Viking brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details.

Tiny enamel and sterling silver Viking brooch. For sale in my Etsy shop: click on photos for details. (NOW SOLD).

And finally, I just had to end with a clip from a great Saturday tea-time favourite film of mine when I was a kid: The Vikings (1958), starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Borgnine.

A William Morris alphabet

I have a tiny brooch for sale in my Etsy shop—it’s a sterling silver letter ‘C’ in a lovely ornate script, decorated with foliage and flowers. It is unmarked and I didn’t know much about it. I described it as best I could and listed it. I didn’t know who the designer or the maker was, and I hadn’t seen anything like it before.

Vintage tiny William Morris design sterling silver brooch forming a letter 'C', and made by Ortak in the 1970s.

Vintage tiny William Morris design sterling silver brooch forming a letter ‘C’, and made by Ortak in the 1970s. For sale in my Etsy shop. Click for details. (NOW SOLD).

A few weeks later I heard from Rowena, a lovely lady on Etsy, pointing out it was a letter ‘C’ (I had photographed it on its side and not realised it was a letter!), and that she thought it might be by Ortak, the jewellery firm based on the Orkney Isles off the northern tip of mainland Scotland. I have two other pieces by Ortak, so was familiar with the company’s story.

Just today I have heard from another seller on Etsy, a lovely lady called Suzanne, who tells me it is definitely by Ortak. She has a sister brooch, a ‘B’ to my ‘C’.

Suzanne's Ortak silver  'B', for sale in her Etsy shop.

Suzanne’s Ortak silver ‘B’, for sale in her Etsy shop. Click for details. (NOW SOLD).

Suzanne knew who had made it, because it came in its box, marked ‘Ortak, Scotland’. A spot of google-fu was in order, now that I knew it was by Ortak for sure.

Up popped an old eBay listing for a letter ‘P’, with its Ortak box—and the information that the design is based on one by William Morris.

Ortak sterling silver brooch, letter 'P', sold on eBay.

Ortak sterling silver brooch, letter ‘P’, sold on eBay.

I was a very happy bunny at this news. William Morris is one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement, and a designer of beautiful textiles, tiles, stained glass, furniture, book design and calligraphy—you name it, he probably designed it.

A bit more truffling produced a letter ‘A’:

Ortak silver letter 'A'. Photo by CAtaway on flickr.

Ortak silver letter ‘A’. Photo by CAtaway on flickr.

and I’m sure if I carried on I would have found still more. Morris’s skill at calligraphy is well known, and his illuminated manuscripts and book illustrations are gorgeous and wonderful. And here are some letters designed by Morris that might have been part of the inspiration for the brooch series above:

Letters designed by William Morris.

Letters designed by William Morris.

So a wonderful learning lesson has been had by me today. I love it! Thanks Rowena, and thanks Suzanne!

Tiny, tinier, tiniest

I’m not quite sure how or why this happened, but recently I seem to have been accumulating tiny pieces of jewellery in my Etsy shop. First up was a pretty Edwardian brooch with Persian turquoises, which is a squitchy 23 mm (9/10 inch) across its widest point.

Tiny Edwardian Persian turquoise and silver brooch.

Tiny Edwardian Persian turquoise and silver brooch. (NOW SOLD).

Just recently I bought an even tinier brooch: a pretty little sterling silver pin with an Art Nouveau design of leaves and a daisy-like flower. It measures 18 mm (7/10 inch) across by 12 mm (just under 1/2 inch) high. (Update: a kind lady on Etsy has since told me it’s a letter ‘C’ brooch – which of course it is! I wondered why it had that strange cut-off ‘top’ edge ….  Turn it through 90 degrees and suddenly it makes sense. As Homer Simpson would say, ‘Doh!’. She also thinks it’s by Ortak, the jewellery makers up in the Orkney Isles in the far north of Scotland.)

Vintage tiny William Morris design sterling silver brooch forming a letter ‘C’, and made by Ortak in the 1970s. (NOW SOLD).

But the titchiest of all are the sweet little Hroar Prydz enamel and silver butterfly earrings I bought a few weeks ago. These little Norwegian beauties are so wee: each butterfly measures just 15 mm (6/10 inch) across at its widest part. Considering their size, the level of detailing in them is amazing.

Hroar Prydz enamel and silver butterfly earrings.

Hroar Prydz enamel and silver butterfly earrings. (NOW SOLD).

I wonder if it’s something to do with having watched the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage the other day? I love that film!