Monthly Archives: January 2012

Charles Loloma Hair Comb

What does an innovator do when his soul, land, and religion belong to a race who survived genocide? How does an artist feel when his genius compels him to consider all cultural ideas equally, even those of the countries responsible for the genocide?

Early in his career, Charles Loloma realized that many traditional Native American designs, such as the squash-blossom necklace, came from Spanish influence, so he reached outside the Hopi Nation. He was the first jeweler to combine Mediterranian salmon and oxblood coral, gem-quality Lone Mountain turquoise, ivory, gel sugulite, exotic woods, silver, and 14K gold into jewelry. His bracelets and necklaces sought to express the texture of Hopi land and water, as well as the sacred masks of Kachina dancers. The groundbreaking way in which Loloma combined ideas made new art, which allowed people to understand the Hopi ethos more powerfully.

Here is a bracelet of a kachina face, symbolically interpreted in 14K gold, ivory, coral, turquoise, and charoite. Price on request.

In 1941, Rene d’Harnoncourt included a mural by Loloma at the highly successful exhibition, “Indian Art of the United States,” at the Museum of Modern Art. However, in the 1950s, as Loloma’s artistic courage was redefining Native American art, breaking down regional barriers, and bringing Hopi artists out of isolation, an all-white consortium of hotel and restaurant owners called the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial rejected his work three times for not being “Indian enough.” In other words, Loloma didn’t make stereotypical pieces white business owners thought white tourists would buy.

He made only three hair ornaments in his career. One of them is on sale at the Indian River Gallery. It uses his mosaic motif and combines stones with ironwood and silver. Price: $22,000. The valuation is correct. You may examine other Loloma pieces at Christie’s.

Charles Loloma was born near the village of Hotevilla on the Third Mesa of the Hopi Reservation on January 7, 1921. The reservation covers 2500 square miles of Northeastern Arizona and is made up of three “mesas,” flat table-top-like portions of land surrounded by cliffs. This terraced farmland is just beneath Hotevilla.

Loloma belonged to the Honani, the Badger phratry (fraternity) of the Hopi, which included many clans: Miunyan (porcupine), Wishoko (turkey-buzzard), Bull (butterfly), Buliso (evening primose), and Kachina (sacred dancer). He was also a snake priest, a revered status in Hopi culture. Every two years, snake priests dance to worship ancestors and bring rain. This is Loloma’s signature gold badger-claw ring coupled with a silver, coral, and silver snake pin.

He would travel from world to world, Paris one week, back on the reservation to perform religious duties the next. To explain the disparity, he said, “Two times I’ve been to Europe and Paris and have experienced what fine things are, but in order to create valid art, you have to be true to yourself and your heritage.

“I feel a strong kinship to stones, not just the precious and semi-precious stones I use in my jewelry, but the humble stones I pick up at random while on a hike through the hills or a walk along the beach. I feel the stone and think, not to conquer it, but to help it express itself”

This necklace, which was featured in a 1978 exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, is priced at $75,000.

“I wish to create a relationship between the earth and myself,” Loloma says. “Sometimes we do not realize what we are kicking over.” He selects a piece of rock from the red ground. “I want to make the soul come out.”


For more scholarly research and jewelry enjoyment, please examine

Loloma – Beauty Is His Name

Sterling Silver Authentic Native American Bear Claw Bracelet

Squash Blossom Necklace with Earrings

Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry Sale: The Mike Todd Tiara

In 1957, she gave him a daughter.

Abandoned to love, he gave her this:

Nine scrolls with larger terminals, spaced by latticework motifs, c. 1880. It sold for $4,226,500, but that doesn’t matter to me. Love is still priceless.


Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair with Jewelry

Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend

Some Lovely Things on Ebay

We are beauty hunters. Some lovely things have sold on E-bay at good prices, while other nice pieces are still for sale.

This emerald, pearl, and diamond Victorian parure was sent in by one of our community’s subscribers. I was so pleased to hear from her. Thank you! If another subscriber finds something delicious, you are more than welcome to send me a picture at

This parure comes from Austria, c. 1870, with hallmarks. It is made from 14K gold, sterling silver, faceted and cabachon emeralds, rose-cut diamonds, and pearls. The emeralds are mostly light green, however, the two cabachons at the bottom of the necklace have the beautiful deep-green color you want to see. The set comes in its original box. Price: $29,500.

This beautiful metal kanzashi from The Miriam Slater Collection has many meanings. The bent wire represents water. The crane signifies honor and loyalty. A silver rock anchors a floral bouquet. I will guess that the cuts in the circular pieces of dangling metal are a family crest. It is on sale for $225, a nice price for a rare, elaborate piece.

This 19th-Century Indian ivory comb was mislabled “Antique Victorian Ornately Carved Ox Bone Double Comb.” The Creative Museum has one. Whoever got this, even with the broken piece on the top left, for $63.91 did very well.

French Art Nouveau innovators like Louis Aucoc, who employed Rene Lalique, ornamented clarified horn with pearls to create jewelry that mirrored the natural world. He had many followers, among them Lucien Galliard. This art nouveau horn comb is beautifully translucent, with scrolling on the edges. Its three asymmetrical pearls are just enough, but not too much — a stunning piece. Unsigned, it sold for $639.07.

This real tortoiseshell, gold, and pearl art nouveau back comb is a classic beauty in excellent condition. It sold for $219.30.

Lastly, a dealer misidentified this silver comb as a “Spanish Mantilla Bird.” Well, first, a mantilla is a veil. The peineta that holds up the mantilla is much larger, and the comb is American. The hallmark indicates that it was made by Knowles & Ladd of Providence, Rhode Island, c. 1870. I do love the bird though. It sold for $145.


For more research on comb identification and values, please examine these books, which can all be found in our Resource Library.

Hair Combs: Identification & Values

The Comb: Its History and Development

Le Peigne Dans Le Monde

Chinese Gold Jewelry

To elaborate on the development of Chinese gold jewelry, I had to take an archaeological journey from the Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 B.C.) to the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 A.D.). Looking at ancient maps, China started out small. Amid tribal wars, power struggles and consolidation made boundaries fluid. Ideas were exchanged.

Through collision and synthesis Chinese goldsmiths innovated, most notably when they made hair pins and crowns. Gold leaf, repoussé, casting, moulding, welded beading, filigree, drawn work, and plating have all been seen in excavated pieces, as well as those for sale at auction houses.

This Shang gold hair pin came from a grave in Liujiahe, near Beijing. Now famous in archaeological circles, the gold found here proves that metalworking, and therefore the Bronze Age started in China 4000 years ago, 800 years before Europe. What you see is the pin alone. Cast from a mould, there is a small, straight tenon joint at the front. This fit into the mortise of the pin’s ornament.

During the Spring-and-Autumn subperiod of the Warring States Dynasty (475 – 221 B.C.), this bird final to a royal crown was attributed to the Xiōngnú, a nomadic Mongol tribe who fought and conquered Chinese peoples to form the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.). The finial was also cast, but you can now see colored-stone inlay techniques. Welded beading in other jewelry was also excavated at the same grave in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.

When the Xiōngnú consolidated more territory during the Han Dynasty, the ideals they placed upon gold began to interact with Western tribal cultures, who cherished jade. The evidence can be seen in hair ornaments unearthed in Xigoupan, Mongolia, where jade was paired with gold.

After the Han Dynasty, three Yan Dynasties followed: Former, Latter, and Northern (265 – 420 A.D.), the Murong branch of Xianbei peoples established control and made beautiful gold headdress ornaments with dangling leaves called buyao, which means “shake as you go.” Here are examples of three ornaments and a full crown. (An aside: I am amazed at how the crown’s design resembles the Dogon chief’s crown at The Creative Museum.)

Baodianzhuang inlay, where stones were placed inside a gold casing, was popular among the aristocracy of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368 A.D.). A full set of 7 gold hair ornaments was found in Huangpi, Hubei Province in Central China, just north of Hunan. Two gold hair pins, hair slides, ornaments, and the back of a comb were originally inlaid with precious stones, now missing. Because the pieces are not the same size, they could not have been worn symmetrically.

Two of the most beautiful crowns ever found were from the Wanli Emperor in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 A.D.), who ascended the throne at age 9. He was buried with a spectacular crown. Artists coiled and welded woven gold mesh, which served as the background to a gold dragon adorned with pearls and 20 other jewels.

One of Wanli’s two empresses, Xiaoduan, was buried with a kingfisher crown that boasted 6 phoenixes, 6 dragons, 128 rubies and sapphires, and 5449 pearls.

In 1521, the wife of a county secretary was found with a jewel-encrusted gold phoenix hair pin in her grave. As hair jewelry was a strict delimiter of social status, this shows a market change. Anyone with access to money could wear gold jewelry.

The Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 A.D.) started with the intent to carry on Ming traditions, however, the Imperial family came from the Jurchen ethnic group from Northeast China, or Manchuria. They consolidated the most land, including Mongolia, and formed alliances with the Mongolian aristocracy. Their religion was Tibetan Buddhism and included shamanistic sacrifices.

In 2008, Sotheby’s had an auction of Qing gold hair pins. Keeping with tradition, each hair ornament was decorated with auspicious symbols, denoting social status. Many were shaped like ruyi, a back-scratching sceptre dating back to the Han Dynasty. Here are some pictures and prices:

Gold filigree borders a ruyi-shaped head with a pearl in the center. Six symbols are attached to the top by gold wire, including 4 dragons and a wan symbol, wishing the wearer prosperity and good fortune. Sale price: $15,000.

Five hammered gold petals separate 5 gold filigree petals with inlaid turquoise. A winged boy flying in the clouds decorates the pin itself. Sale price: $8000.

A meticulous gold-filigreed phoenix with pearls in perfect condition. I see Ming Dynasty influence in this piece. Sale price: $66,000.

You may find exquisite samples of modern jewelry at

Happy Chinese New Year. :-) It’s the Year of the Dragon. Celebrate by choosing some affordable Chinese Dragon Jewelry.


Source: Ancient Cultures of Jewelry and Ornamentation by Yang Boda: Arts of Asia, 2008

You may also examine

Kingfisher Blue: Treasures of an Ancient Chinese Art

The Language of Adornment: Chinese Ornaments of Jade, Crystal, Amber, and Glass

Politics of Chinese Language and Culture: The Art of Reading Dragons

Jen Cruse: Garnets Adorning Hair Combs in the 19th Century

Garnets are semi-precious gemstones of the silicate (quartz) group of minerals, found in metamorphic rock in a variety of colours. They have been known since the Bronze Age not only as gemstones but also for their abrasive qualities. The gemstone variety has a rich transparent lustre while opaque garnets are used to this day as industrial abrasives.

The garnet takes its name from the fruit of the pomegranate, the principal stone being a rich crimson red. Most garnets come from mines in the Mount Kosakov area of Bohemia and were frequently used in jewellery by the early Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Celts. Bohemian garnets were very popular during the Victorian era as embellishments for combs and hairpins, often foil-backed to enhance their colour and reflective qualities. Sometimes garnets were polished en cabochon but more usually they were cut and faceted.

The garnet is found in several different colours, but the red variety is the most popular stone for setting in jewellery, ranging in colour from a medium red to a very dark red. Although some may appear to be almost black in colour, garnets sparkle with a rich crimson glow when viewed in bright light. On occasions, the term “Bohemian ruby” is mistakenly thought to be an actual ruby but is, in fact, a garnet, the birthstone for January.

This garnet comb is a tortoiseshell backcomb with silver gilt heading. The surface is engraved with Renaissance-style scrolling designs and set with large- and small-faceted garnets and 3 small pearls. English 1840-60. L = 3½ ins (8.9 cm); W = 3¼ ins (8.2 cm).


For more scholarly research, please see the The Antique Comb Collectors Club and

The Comb: Its History and Development, by Jen Cruse

Creative Museum: Peinetas y Mantillas Españolas (Spanish Mantilla Combs)

(Para este tema, The Creative Museum escribe en español. An English translation can be found in the first comment.)


En la cultura española, hay un elemento de arraigada tradición que es el uso de la peineta. Este ornamento femenino para el cabello consta de un cuerpo convexo y un conjunto de púas que se encajan sobre el moño. Pero sobretodo, es el complemento indispensable para lucir de forma elegante la mantilla.

La mantilla es una prenda que se luce en muchos tipos de actos y hoy todavía se utiliza con la peineta en algunas celebraciones como bodas de gala, procesiones de Semana Santa, funerales o corridas de toros. Aquí está la reina Sofía de España usando una peineta y mantilla en el funeral del Papa Juan Pablo II, el 08 de abril 2005.

La peineta española es notable por su diseño muy elaborado y por su tamaño impresionante. Las peinetas altas pueden alcanzar unos 30 o 40 centímetros. En este caso, son más difíciles de llevar que las más cortas o bajas. Se elige la peineta acorde a la altura y la del acompañante. En todo caso, hay que ajustarla bien al moño y cubrirla de forma correcta y bien equilibrada con la mantilla.

Las hay de muchos tipos de material, una de las mejores son las de carey. Pero hoy, salen caro y se encuentran poco en el mercado de antiguëdades.

Su origen se remonta a muchos siglos pero, se sabe que en el siglo XIX, la reina Isabel II (1833-1868), muy aficionada al uso de tocados y diademas, empezó a popularizar su uso, costumbre que pronto adoptaron las mujeres más cercanas a ella. Las damas cortesanas y de altos estratos sociales, comenzaron a utilizar esta prenda en diversos actos sociales, lo que contribuyó, en gran medida, a darle un aire distinguido, tal y como ha llegado a nuestros días.

Hoy su uso es muy limitado y poco generalizado; se encuentra sobretodo en el sur de España, en Andalucía, especialmente en Sevilla.

El Creative Museum tiene una collección de aproximadamente veinte piezas bellisímas.


For more scholarly research, please examine the publications of The Creative Museum and this book on the peinetas of Argentina, which can be found in our Resource Library. You can also buy a white peineta and mantilla to celebrate the Spanish style.

Couture and Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina

White Spanish Comb

White Fingertip Length Spanish Mantilla

Jessica Beauchemin: Collection Bestiaire and A Sense of Time


Ms. Beauchemin writes in French. English speakers may read a translation in the first comment.

Bestiaire I - Dasyatis sephen

Bestiaire I – Dasyatis sephen, 2011
Medium: Black Ebony, Movingui Veneer, Stingray polished and non polished
Finish: Linseed Oil and Beeswax
Techniques: Bending, Sculpture, Marquetry
Dimensions: 26 x 10.5 x 3 cm
Photographer: Nicolas Chentrier

Bestiaire II - Alcedo atthis

Bestiaire II – Alcedo atthis, 2011
Medium: Black Ebony, Black Ebony and Tinted Sycamore Veneers, Kingfisher Feathers
Finish: Beeswax
Techniques: Bending, Sculpture, Marquetry
Dimensions: 30.5 x 9 x 4.5 cm
Photographer: Nicolas Chentrier

Bestiaire III - Pinctada

Bestiaire III – Pinctada, 2011
Medium: Black Ebony, Bleached Anegre Veneer, Mother of pearl
Finish: Beeswax
Techniques: Bending, Sculpture, Marquetry
Dimensions: 20.5 x 10.5 x 7 cm
Photographer: Nicolas Chentrier

La recherche et le dépassement font partie intégrante de mon travail de création. À l’automne 2011, j’ai eu la chance de réaliser un projet de recherche dont l’objectif était d’apprendre à travailler trois matériaux traditionnels d’origine animale – le galuchat, les plumes et la nacre. Ce projet m’a permis de maîtriser et d’intégrer ces matières à mes créations. Au final, j’ai créé le triptyque Bestiaire, une collection de trois ornements de coiffure sculpturaux : Bestiaire I – Dasyatis sephen; Bestiaire II – Alcedo atthis et Bestiaire III – Pinctada.

À travers ce projet, j’ai pris conscience de l’importance du temps dans ma démarche artistique. À une époque où le temps est calculé en efficacité et en rentabilité, mon travail de création, axé sur le détail, la précision et la minutie, se veut un éloge du temps. Plus une pièce exige de moi temps, application et précision, plus j’ai l’impression de respecter la matière et d’être en harmonie avec mon art. À l’image des artistes et artisans d’une autre époque, je souhaite valoriser le geste et le temps associé à sa maitrise.

Je veux poursuivre dans cette voie, en prenant le temps d’explorer de nouvelles matières en association avec le bois. Je souhaite également développer l’aspect sculptural de mes pièces; créer des œuvres indépendantes dont on oublie la fonction.

À suivre… dans quelque temps…


To explore or purchase these museum pieces of modern art, please visit the web site of Jessica Beauchemin

Jeanne D’Arc, Antoine de Paris, and the Bob

No one ever knew what she looked like. All we know is after Burgundian soldiers burned her village to the ground, she started hearing voices at 12. God commanded her to drive the English out of France so the Dauphin Charles VII could be King. The only way she could get to Court to convince Charles to let her lead the French army was to pass through Burgundy wearing a male disguise.

Jeanne d’Arc cut her hair, donned male armor, turned the Hundred Years War from an inheritance battle between royal families into a religious cause, and lifted the Siege of Orléans in 1429. Charles VII became King. Then the English captured her, put her on trial, forced her into a dress, and burned her at the stake in 1431. She was 19.

In 1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer directed “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc,” where Maria Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances in film history. For me, with her crown of twine, this was Jeanne.

But France was in the midst of an aesthetic revolution. Movements co-opt extraordinary people into their own mind boxes.

In 1895, Art Nouveau was starting, and Alfred Lynch painted one of the most famous imaginary portraits of Jeanne D’Arc.

In 1909, as Art Nouveau was turning into Art Deco, this painting might have given hairdresser Antoine of Paris an idea.

The Bob.

He credited Jeanne d’Arc with its inspiration. The bob liberated women from long hair the year before Coco Chanel started her first hat shop and later liberated women from the corset. How sophisticated, confident, and independent Chanel and Mary Pickford looked in the 1920’s.

Meanwhile, in Oyonnax, Auguste Bonaz adapted his comb designs to adorn the new style. From The Creative Museum:

Jeanne d’Arc was a military genius, a Royalist, and a Catholic with religious fervor that outdid the Inquisition. As France celebrates the 600th anniversary of her death, I wonder what she would think of all this.


For more scholarly research, please examine the publications of The Creative Museum and these books, which have been added to our Resource Library.

Joan of Arc: The Warrior Saint

Film: The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Comb: Its History and Development

Piel Frères Egyptian Revival Hair Comb

Piel Frères was started by Alexandre Piel in 1855. Working with sculptor and artistic director Gabriel Stalin, they sculpted beautiful designs, using gilded inexpensive materials and made jewelry that looked luxurious for a fraction of the price.

Choosing silver, celluloid, horn, copper and brass, ornamented with enamel, stone, or glass inlays, the firm won a Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle in 1900. Belt buckles became their specialty, but of course, they also made hair combs.

Here is an ivory hair comb with a champlevé-enameled Egyptian Revival relief, c. 1905. Champlevé is a technique where a shape is carved into the metal surface, vitreous enamel (powdered glass) is poured in, and then fired. The edges are polished down when the metal cools. The comb is selling for $5,500.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which have been added to our Resource Library.

The Belle Epoque of French Jewellery, 1850-1910
Christie’s Art Nouveau

Paris. Exposition Universelle, 1900.

Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe Hair Comb

She was known simply as Torun, the most important Swedish silversmith of the post-war era. Her mother was a sculptor.

Growing up on a remote island, her mother’s artistic influence possibly inspired her to think of silver as assymetric and fluid. She called her jewelry “anti-status” saying, “I don’t want to design jewelry for the wives of wealthy men to keep locked up in private… Diamonds have a killing effect on women. You can see the diamonds, but you can’t see the woman.”

Her minimalist silver jewelry mimicked the flow of water and relented to the body’s contours. She ornamented her ideas with pebbles, granite, rock crystal, and quartz. Among her most important pieces were dew-drop necklaces, where a crystal drop is draped over the shoulder. In the book, Twentieth-Century Jewelry, Barbara Cartlidge describes it as “a milestone in the history of design.” Pablo Picasso loved them. So did Billie Holiday, pictured here in 1957.

A dealer is selling a dew drop hair comb with 7 different colored quartz drops for $14,400.

However, the best place to buy the literature and jewelry of Torun is at Torun Silver in Sweden.

The Abbey Lincoln Marriage

In 1961, Torun won the American Lunning Prize for Design, gained international fame, and met Georg Jensen. She began working for him exclusively in 1969. With “The Vivianna,” a revolutionary bangle-watch designed to liberate people from time, she became his most famous atelier.

After being awarded the Prince Eugen medal by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in 1992, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre held a 45-year retrospective of her work.


This article could not have been written without the scholarship and contributions of The Creative Museum, who owns THE book on Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe.

Other products and references can be found here:

Georg Jensen Vivianna Place Setting

Inspired Jewelry