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Victorian Czech black glass 'mourning' costume jewelry

27. 07. 2018, 15:28

As with most items of costume jewelry made in the Jablonec region of Czechoslovakia. black (or jet) costume jewelry was intended to imitate genuine precious and semi precious stones; in this case jet.

Jewelry and talismans were made using jet more than 4000 years BC. the Romans calling it black amber. Jewelry made of jet became a global fashion in the second half of the 19th century thanks to the World fair in London and the changing trends of the time. Jet became the official mourning stone after the death of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, in 1861. 

Producers of costume jewelry in continental Europe responded quickly but given that true jet was expensive, imitations were made using different materials. The idea of imitating jet using glass originated in France and reached the Czech Jizera mountains through the German lands. By the end of the 19th Century, glass imitations of jet ruled the markets of continental Europe and North America. 

The production of 'jet' black glass products began in larger quantities in the Jablonec area during the 1860's. Simply made with a pressed stone bonded to a metal base with resin. The small town of Smrzovka became the centre of production. The range was relatively constrained with the simple shapes of brooches, buttons, hair clasps, combs and pins. 

The turning point came in1877 when the Gebruder Feix company patented an innovation - the riveting of glass stones on metal bases - under the trademark of Riveted Jet. This allowed for a wider variety of designs but after the 1880's production began by tin - soldering glass stones with sealed metal tubes onto a wire base in plaster moulds. The simplicity of production and the wealth of combinations were followed by good sales and mass distribution. Into the 20th century sales fluctuated, finally ceasing in the 1920's when interest in black glass 'mourning' jewelry stopped. 

Antique mourning jewelry elementsAntique mourning jewelry elements

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