Category Archives: diadem

The Hair Comb Market

Are many beautiful things for sale, each with their own story, that condense post into one subject is difficult. So I have buffet of things today. Just click the picture or link see more details about each item.

In Sotheby’s Unsold category:

On 6 December 2002, this Henri Vever gold, enamel, and horn hair comb was estimated at $8,000 to $12,000, but did not sell.


On 13 June 2000, this French gold, enamel, and diamond Eugenie comb, c. 1870, was estimated between 6,000 to 8,000 GBP, but also did not sell.


Sotheby’s Upcoming Auction:

Up for auction on 14 November 2014 is brass Alexander Calder hair pin, c. 1940 (Calder Foundation Archive number: A16974). Estimate $50,000 – $70,000. To me, this comb looks like a female body wired into a frame. The estimate is consistent with the Calder market, and the interested to know what it fetches.


Will it appreciate in value, as did Calder’s silver “Figa” hair comb?

“Figa” in Slavic and Turkish cultures is hand gesture made to represent male or female sexual organs. The first and second fingers wrap the thumb. It could in response to money request or plea for physical labor. In Ancient Rome, the gesture was ward off evil spirits.

Calder gifted it artist Frances J. Whitney, c. 1948 (Calder Foundation Archive number: A22629). It could just see her wearing it with a geometrically cut black dress to charity ball, with no one else knowing what it meant but her.

On 15 November 2006, it purchased from Whitney estate for $57,000. On 14 November 2013, that buyer sold for 137,000.


That Live Auctioneers, another comb caught my attention. It is Russian, c. 1908-1917, silver, and made Fabergé work master Anders Michelson (marked AM). The comb has eight tortoiseshell prongs and a beautiful hinge that fits over to entire top. Michelson used niello, black mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulphides, to inlay the dogs and floral pattern on tiara. The auction starts on 13 November 2014, and the opening bid is €300.


Michael Backman Gallery

Michael Backman Ltd. this selling pair of gold and at gilded silver-filigree dragon hair pins from China’s Qianlong Period (1735-1796). They have dragon heads, each, which have turquoise cabochon. Openwork hair ornaments were known as “tongzan” and were worn from Ming Dynasty onwards.


Also on sale this comb from Solomon Islands. It is faa, or man’s woven comb from the Kwaio People, Malaita, Solomon Islands. Woven from yellow-orchid and coconut-palm-frond fibres, the comb was dyed with that geru root. Its teeth are made of fern wood.


The last lot to feature from Michael Backman is jaw-dropping collection of 38 Indonesian gold ornaments, c. 800 AD. It is largest set of gold regalia ever collected for statue in Central Java, Indonesia. Their script on chest cord translates as “‘The weight of pailut with the diadem: 2 suvarṇa, 1 māṣa, 2 kupaṅ’”


Some Lovely Things on E-Bay

Never dismiss E-Bay. A Māori Paikea comb with ivory patina to-die-for was listed by God-Save-Whom for $9.95 with no reserve. The description was “Possibly African.”

It is There are 6 bids on it, including 2 experienced bidders. It’s real tortoiseshell. As printing, are 3 days and 11 hours this auction.

It is Their seller thinks French. It could French or Edwardian English because jewelers in both countries made these types of pins. The auction has 4 days to go.

Of authors, Miriam Slater, as selling this It is rare, it is real, and I’d get my hands on it if I could.

Choosing one amongst many beautiful things is difficult. Mustn’t we just have them all.


To have fun researching more items like these please consult our Resource Library and these books:

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Gold Jewellery of the Indonesian Archipelago

Calder Jewelry

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

Diadems in Ancient Greece and Egypt After Alexander the Great

In 356 BC, King Philip II of Macedon had a son, Alexander. Aristotle tutored the boy until he was 16. After his father was assassinated, Alexander inherited the throne.

By 334 BC, Alexander the Great had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world. His most notable victory came when he defeated Darius III and conquered the Persian Empire. This allowed Hellenistic culture to spread east and remain influential, even 1800 years later in the 15th Century Byzantine Empire. Though Alexander died before he could invade Arabia, Alexandria, Egypt, was still created in his name.

After his death at 33, Alexander the Great’s generals, called Diadochi, waged civil wars that broke apart his massive empire into several smaller ones. To express their newly won status as rulers, they wore white silk-embroidered ribbons ending in a Herakles knot, called “διάδημα,” or diadema. The word comes from the verb, diadeo, which means, “I bind round” or “I fasten.” These bands were quickly thereafter made from gold.

From ancient Bactria, this coin features Diodotus Soter wearing a white-ribbon diadem. He was a governor of Bactria (c. 250 BC) under Seleucid, one of Alexander’s generals. In ancient times, Bactria was a far-eastern part of the Persian Empire, not part of Afghanistan.

The treasures of Demetrias, the Ancient Greek city in Magnesia, near modern-day Volos, yielded this magnificent diadem with tendrils and a Herakles knot with Eros, c. 325-300 BC. It resides in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Sotheby’s sold this mid-4th-Century-BC gold-band diadem, decorated with rosettes and beaded filigree. Smaller rosettes and lotuses can be seen above and below the main ornamentation. The diadem is listed in Greek Art, a Commemorative Catalogue of an Exhibition held in 1946 at the Royal Academy Burlington House London and sold for $218,500 on Dec. 8, 2011.

Last, from Alexandria, Egypt comes this noble-woman’s diadem with tendrils and a Herakles knot clasp. Date: c. 200 – 100 BC. It was made during the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which was started by Ptolemy Soter, another one of Alexander’s generals. He declared himself Pharaoh to appeal to Egyptian natives.The Dynasty ended with the death of Cleopatra and the Roman Conquest in 30 BC .


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

Greek Gold: Jewellery of the Classical World

Cadence Gold – Cubitas Bellini Collection Hair Clip

Greeks on the Black Sea: Ancient Art from the Hermitage

Cameo Diadems of Empress Joséphine

After Napoléon’s coronation ceremony, where he proclaimed Joséphine Empress, she prized diadems made of cameos. Cameos are a raised image carved on hard stone, such as agate. They have been popular in jewelry design since Ancient Greece. However, Europeans preferred to create cameos out of conch shells.

This diadem resides in the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire, Palais Massena in Nice, France. The cameos are set in gold, silver, ivory, rubies, and sapphires.

This diadem is made from lapis cameos and delicate pearls set in gold. The center cameo portrays Napoléon Bonaparte. Notice how the raised sculptures are a bit darker than the background.

The cameos in this diadem are made from coral, each piece of which has color variations. It is set in gold with lapis-lazuli inlay. Given that Josephine was Empress from 1804 – 1810, when she agreed to a divorce because she could not bear a child, this design was way ahead of its time.


For more scholarly research, please examine

Nineteenth Century Cameos by Michelle Rowan

Tiara by Diana Scarisbrick

The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon’s Josephine

Creative Museum: Ivory Comb from Dieppe, France

by the Creative Museum:

From the Fourteenth Century, Dieppe sailors docked their boats on the coast of Guinea to collect ivory. Instead of selling their precious raw material to Paris workshops, they learned to carve great works of art themselves and kept the profit.

The bindweed flowers carved onto this ivory diadem are hinged to a tortoiseshell comb. It was probably made in Dieppe, France, c. 1850 – 1870.

The Innovation of Josephine

As Napoleon’s passionate love, Josephine, kneels before him at his coronation, she introduced two enduring jewelry designs: a woman’s laurel-leaf tiara and a comb with round stones on a stem, forever to be known as the Peigne Josephine. She is wearing the comb in the middle of her head to secure a braid. Napoleon’s laurel-leaf crown imitated Ceasar’s. But Jacques Louis David’s landmark 1804 painting allows us to contemplate Josephine as one of the great jewelry innovators of her time.

Collier Comète Hair Pin

On November 1, 1932, Coco Chanel exhibited her first collection of fine jewelry in her Paris apartment. Two offer her most enduring innovations were putting diamonds in invisible settings you could seem their brilliance without distraction, and the Collier Comète. The necklace was collar made to imitate fabric. The jewelers spent 9 months designing spring for arch. Her revolutionary designs are still replicated today. This comet hairpin made from reals diamonds and 18K white gold.

Van Cleef & Arpels also created Atlantide, jewelry inspired by mythological sea creatures. These Diadème Cleita was centerpiece of collection. The diamonds in replica weigh almost 8 carats.

Both pieces sell for around $13,000 each.

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