Monthly Archives: August 2012

Alexander de Paris: Nouvelle Collection 2012

Alexander de Paris has a web store for middle-market women, ie those who cannot jet to New York or Paris, walk into a shop, and buy a one-of-a-kind piece for $4000.

The company’s Autumn/Winter 2012 collection is out. Beehive hair styles are in to support innovative and experimental headbands. Designers are playing with the headband’s geometric shape to make this year’s main idea, Avant Garde.

Here are some examples of headbands you can use to decorate your beehive bun. If you have shorter hair, you can always buy a ponytail wig and put that up. (ooo, does the wig really have to match your hair color, or can you get creative? :-)

Avant Garde headbands have not gone down-market yet. I have seen the big flower on the side of a narrow headband everywhere, but not headbands whose shapes are rolled, separated, or swirled.

Then of course, each collection has its masterpiece. The knockout headband of the web store’s Nouvelle Collection 2012 is

Gina Hellweger: Ethiopian Judaeo-Christian Art for Sale

Ethiopia enjoys a well-developed tradition in iconography, manuscript illumination, calligraphy, book art, metal work, woodcarving and many other art forms. Ethiopia althrough surrounded by Muslim countries has a thriving Orthodox Church and a proud Judaeo-Christian history, tracing back to the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon.

The original Ark of the Covenant, a gilded wooden box containing the stone tablets of the law ( 10 commandments ) received by Moses from God on the Mount Sinai, is thought to reside in a church in Axum ( ancient former capital city ) A replica of these tablets ( Tabot ) is placed in the Holy of Holies at the heart of each Ethiopian Orthodox church.

There are carved wooden crosses, mini-towers, book-like pendants, complex fold out pieces open out with little doors on string hinges, revealing miniature icons inside, painted icons adorn metal crosse as well as wooden diptychs and triptychs, others are painted on goatskin.

If you are interested in purchasing one or more of these pieces or more information contact OFER DANIELI or GINA HELLWEGER on Facebook. Or, you can contact BarbaraAnne through this blog, and she will she will get the information to us. The prices are affordable. If you mention our blog, you get a 5% discount and free shipping.


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

Ethiopian Art: The Walters Art Museum

The Indigenous and the Foreign in Christian Ethiopian Art: On Portuguese-Ethiopian Contacts in the 16th-17th Centuries


Mellerio dits Meller

Mellerio dits Meller is the oldest family-owned jewelry company in Europe, spanning 14 generations. In 1515, the first Mr. Mellerio left Italy for Paris because he heard there was opportunity there. His family started the company in 1613.

As Jean-Baptiste Mellerio was vending his wares in front of the Château de Versailles, he attracted the attention of Marie-Antoinette. She became a regular patron in 1777. He created this cameo bracelet for her, which expressed Versailles’ court intrigue, as some cameos face each other to converse, and some don’t. Just before Marie-Antoinette went to the guillotine, she gave the bracelet to a confidante. It survived in tact, and today is kept in a safe.

Empress Josephine also had jewelry made for her by Jean-Baptiste, such as this amethyst parure.

In 1815, the company set up shop on the Rue de la Paix, where it remains to this day.

Jean-Francois Mellerio made this diamond-and-pearl tiara, which Queen Isabel II of Spain bought for her daughter, the Infanta Isabel, Princess of Asturias, for her wedding in 1867.

During the Paris Exposition Universelle 1900, Mellerio dits Meller presented 12 pieces based on the peacock. Here is the “Paon Royal” head dress, which was made in gold and platinum with cloisonné and diamonds.

Serpents have always played a powerful role in world religions. They guarded Buddah. In Genesis, a serpent represented the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Two serpents facing each other reflected both themes in Art Nouveau jewelry. Mellerio dits Meller made this exquisite diamond and platinum diadem in 1921. Do the two snakes represent good and evil? Or, they are guarding the diamond pendant. I think the snakes play both roles, which makes this an art deco masterpiece.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which can be found in our Resource Library

Serpentina: Snake Jewellery from Around the World

Art Nouveau: The French Aesthetic


Eyes Open: Tribal Combs and Masks

When light or wind passes through, the open eyes of a mask can haunt you. Ancestral spirits look back. I wanted to show some tribal combs and masks, whose open designs allow this emotional exchange to happen.

From The Creative Museum‘s African collection come these examples:

These three 20th Century hairpins with masks are ivory. They were made by the Zande people who live in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Zande also inhabit portions of South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

In Angola, the Ganguela are a small minority ethnic group made up of several tribes, each with their own language and social identity. The Lwimbi tribe is one of these. They are known for beekeeping and making pointed masks with open designs.

The Boa people live in the Northern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their art features masks with prominent, round ears, which signify alertness in a warrior. The first comb has a representational head with red eyes and round ears. However, the second comb is more symbolic. Both the head and ears are round circles, and the ears are at arms length to give balance to the piece. I don’t think a Western modern artist could have done better.

The Baule tribe is one of the Akan peoples, who inhabit Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Their religion is centered around ancestor worship and nature gods.

These two masks are from the Gina Hellweger Collection. “This mask is an Ogoni Animal Mask from Nigeria. The Ogoni people live to the east of the Niger delta. They have retained a vital varied masquerading activity that is in part deeply rooted in their own tradition and in part adopted from neighboring ethnic groups, such as the Ibibio or Ijo tribes. Masks depciting wild animals are danced on the occasion of agrarian rituals.

“This mask is an old one from the Bambara people that live in central and southern Mali.”

Last, from the Bruce Frank Art Gallery comes this antique mask from Pora Pora in the East Sepik Provence of Papua New Guinea. This is the most haunting mask I have seen yet. It is made from terra cotta, has an elongated nose, and is pierced for attachment.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which can be found in our Resource Library.

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

Hair in African Art and Culture

Powerful Headdresses: Africa and Asia

Child & Child Tiara and Comb

In 1848, English painter William Holman Hunt founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They rejected what they considered to be the mechanistic approach of Mannerist artists, who came after Michelangelo and Raphael, for a more elegant, intensely colored, and sophisticated style. Mr. Hunt was a regular client of Child & Child (1880-1916), a jewelry firm known for its bright, detailed enamel representations of the natural world.

The wings of this tiara are engraved to look like feathers and enamelled in translucent blue. Instead of a bird’s head and eyes, the designer substituted a large citrine to symbolize the sun. The piece has two ideas, firm lines, unique imagination, and pays homage to Europe’s fascination with Egyptian Revival.

Winged tiaras and combs were quite popular to wear at the opera. Mostly, they were made of diamonds and other precious jewels. However, Child & Child came up with these bright green enamel wings dotted by diamonds and blue sapphires. It could be worn as a brooch, but as with many British pieces, it also came with a tortoiseshell comb fitting.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which can be found in our Resource Library.

The Comb: Its History and Development


Timeless Tiaras

Italian Micro Mosaic Jewelry

Byzantine mosaic techniques can be traced to Late Antiquity, a period between the 2nd and 8th Centuries when the Greco-Roman world was transitioning into the Middle Ages. Later, Byzantine artists were imported to work in Italy during the Renaissance, where they taught Italian artists.

One of the most important materials in making mosaics was tesserae, small cubes of colored glass or clear glass backed by metal foils. Tesserae could also be made from enamel-like materials. The Italians became world renowned for micro-mosaic art, making religious scenes and small objects, such as snuff boxes and jewelry.

In this Italian diadem, c. 1820, two engraved gold serpents intertwine around a micro-mosaic plaque made of glass tesserae. Portraying a classical Greek theme, it sold at Sotheby’s for 4,375 GBP on July 16, 2009.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Micromosaics: The Gilbert Collection

Tortoiseshell Hair Combs from Different Worlds

The Bruce Frank Primitive Art Gallery has a beautiful 19th-Century tortoiseshell- and buffalo-horn comb for sale. Price on request. If you don’t have a tribal comb, have no idea of how to buy one correctly, but would like a top-class piece, I have no problem putting my name on a recommendation to buy this one.

The gallery’s description: “This gorgeous comb from the lesser Sunda islands is carved from two different mediums, turtle shell and buffalo horn and is pinned together with old bronze or brass pegs. The top of the comb made from turtle shell is beautifully decorated with heart shaped faces and archaic open form iconography that has been influenced by the ancient Dong-Son culture. The bottom portion created from buffalo horn elegantly fans out with six intact tines. The natural variation of colors in these unique mediums over time have become enhanced through excessive handling. There is a slight loss to the right tip but in otherwise excellent condition for its age.”

Meanwhile at Sotheby’s, a tortoiseshell parure from 19th-Century England sold for $46,875 on Dec. 8, 2011. The whole set featured cameos of Greek figures and was probably made during the Greek Revival period in Victorian England, c. 1860-1880. Interest in Greek and Etruscan antiquities soared as archaeological discoveries were made, and an architectural trend quickly spread into jewelry. You can see a ribboned diadem on the central cameo figure of the comb, which was reminiscent of Alexander the Great’s generals.

And from The Creative Museum comes this beautiful tortoiseshell cameo comb:

Tortoiseshell combs made at the same time and influenced by ancient cultures rendered two completely different designs. Amazing.


For more scholarly research, please examine these books, which can be found in our Resource Library

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

Power and Gold: African, Asian & Oceanic Art

Victorian Jewelry: Unexplored Treasures