Living in Fantasy
THE STORY BEHIND A JEWEL CAN BE VERY PERSONAL, such as the commemoration of a milestone or the memory of an ancestor. Whether it’s a pendant, a bracelet, or even an engagement ring, jewels help to express aspects of one’s identity, signifying important moments in one’s lifetime. This being said, jewellery can also be imbued with a deeper story by its designer. Often, fantasies involving folklore, mythology, or history are incorporated into designs, spinning tales through intricate and delicate details. Overall, pieces that integrate storytelling into their overall design add meaning and interest for the wearer. Although overlooking these details may not cost you sales, being able to highlight the history of your pieces could lend you an extra ounce of selling power.
that period became aware of what was beyond the garden gate or local pub. The Victorians were industrialized, and there was a middle class taking in the pictorial magazines with photographs and illustrations of the mysterious world around them. Pictures of pyramids, excavations at of Roman ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, and unearthed ancient civilizations were all sources of wonder for these individuals. This influence is clearly seen in 19th century art, with portraits of high- society men and ladies wearing the attire of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, or that of ancient Roman nobles. People even built fantastical Roman and Greek ruins on their properties. During this period, the art and architecture truly reflected a widespread fascination with the whimsical imagery of the ancient world. This captivation with the world of the past also translated itself into jewellery. Today, these jewels continue to capture interest in today’s markets, from what we see at auctions.
Some of the most noted jewellers of the 19th century were Fortunato Castellani and his two sons, Alessandro and Augusto. The work of the Castellani family is referred to as “Archeological Revival” and “Etruscan Revival” in its style. These jewels were produced as a result of Fortunato Castellani’s fascination with the art of the ancient world. Images in these works of art look back to ancient figures, including the caduceus, a staff entwined by serpents and topped by wings, symbolizing a messenger. This caduceus appears at the top of a hairpin made by the Castellanis. Today, one of these hairpins is in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Museum, a division of the Smithsonian Institution. Much of Fortunato Castellani’s inspiration stemmed from decorative items uncovered during archaeological excavations of Etruscan and ancient Roman sites in Italy. Because of this, Fortunato often worked images of mythology and folklore into his jewels. The snake-haired Medusa, Greek Amphorae, and