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Dress Of Women - Jewelry And Ornaments

( Originally Published 1902 )

IN many inventories of well-to-do New Yorkers, one or two jewels are mentioned. Nearly every-body owned a gold or silver watch. A chain of pearls and a few diamond rings were not uncommon possessions. We even find Captain Smith (1709) with an " instrument to try pearls," which certainly looks as if he tested them before he bought or sold them. Captain Giles Shelly (1718) owned much jewelry and a mother-of-pearl box. He had a pearl necklace, a gold chain and pendants, eight gold beads, one amber and three red bead necklaces, a parcel of stones and beads, a piece of coral, a string of pearls, six gold pins with pearl heads, two India gold chains, six gold rings, two silver rings, twelve gold rings with stones, one agate seal, and part of a collar.

A few advertisements of different dates will give an idea not only of the kind of gems that people were wearing in these days, but how they were actually set. In 1734, somebody had " Lately lost a gold girdle buckle set around with small diamonds." The following is very explicit :

(Nov. 27, 1749.) " Lost on Thursday evening last at or going from the house of Mr. Ramsey, an earring the upper part whereof is in shape of a knot, set with small diamonds, and the lower part a drop with a diamond in the middle and some diamond sparks round. Two pistoles reward."

This must have been a handsome jewel, for the reward was generous. A larger reward was offered, however, in 1757, by Mr. Naphtaly Hart Myers who was willing to give five pistoles reward for his lost " Hoop Ring set round with Diamonds." Two other advertisements of 1761 and 1762 read :

" Lost, a Diamond Ring, on which is a Heart and Crown, both Diamonds. Whoever has found the same and will bring it to the Printer hereof, shall have forty shillings reward."

" Stolen out of a House near Ellis's Dock on Friday night, being the 5th of February, one Diamond Ring with seven Diamonds, three large and four small one Diamond in most the shape of a Flower Pot ; one Ring with four Diamonds and a flat stone with a little Hair under ; one Diamond Girdle Buckle with about thirty or thirty-two Stones; one plain gold Ring, maker's name, P V B, and L12 in cash."

The three most important jewellers of New York seem to have been Peter Lorin, Charles Dutens and Charles Oliver Bruff. The first appears in 1749, when he announces :

" Peter Lorin from London sets after the neatest and newest fashions, all sorts of jewels, rings, solitiars, lockets, seals etc. He has to dispose, sundry diamonds, rings, a parcel of the best pastes in earrings and aigrettes. He intends to make a short stay in this place."

He evidently remained longer than he had purposed, for in the following year he advertises that he " sets after the neatest and newest fashions all sorts of Jewels, Rings, Ear-rings, Solitaires, Lockets, Aigrettes, Stay-Hooks, Seals, as also Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, Saphires, or any other kind of Stones, to the best Advantage, at very reasonable Rates."

Charles Dutens announced in 1751 :

" Gentlemen and Ladies who want any Diamond Rings, Mourning, Fancy, Enamell'd or Motto do., Stone Buttons set in Gold, Ear-Rings, Solitairs, Stay-Hooks, Seals or Lockets, may be faithfully served in the cheapest manner by Charles Dutens at Mrs. Eastham's, near the Long Bridge. He also sets Rubies, Saphires, Diamonds, Emeralds, or any other kind of Stones after the Newest Fashion to the best Advantage." A little later in the same year, he " makes Hoop Rings set all round, likewise Fancy Rose and all sorts of Rings etc. He has some beautiful Stones fit for Gentlemen's waistcoats for the Season ; likewise a small parcel of Diamonds and Emeralds fit for Ear-rings or Rings."

We find Mr. Bruff in New York from 1763 until 1776, constantly tempting both sexes. In the first named year he appeared with the following :

" Charles Oliver Bruff, goldsmith and jeweller, at the sign of the Tea-pot and Tankard, in Maiden Lane, near the Fly Market, having employed a Jeweller from London who under-stands making or mending any kind of diamond or enamell'd work in the jewelry way. Also makes and mends all manner of stone buckles, stone rings, earrings, broaches, seals, solitairs, hair jewels, lockets, enamell'd. Makes all manner of sleeve buttons, mourning rings of all sorts, trinkets for ladies, plats hair in a curious manner in true lovers' knots for buttons, rings or lockets, plain or enamell'd, gold necklaces or stone of all sorts. Said Bruff makes all sorts of silversmiths' work, mends old work in that way, and has put himself to a great expense in sending to London for diamonds and all manner of precious stones, and he hopes for the encouragement of the Gentlemen and Ladies of this City, as he will study to use them well."

When we take leave of him in 1775, we find that his sign was the Tea-Pot, Tankard and Earring although he still lived in Maiden Lane and Crown Street. He had added the art of the lapidary, and it is very interesting to note the kind of emblems and subjects people like for their seals, rings and other trinkets. It would seem too that working in hair was a new fashion. But let us allow him to speak for himself :

" Charles Oliver Bruff at the sign of the Tea-Pot, Tankard and Ear-ring, between Maiden Lane and Crown Street, near Fly Market, makes and mends all kinds of diamond or enamelled work in the jewellery way; also all manner of stone buckles, solitaires, hair jewels, lockets, enamelled sleeve buttons, mourning rings of all sorts, trinkets for ladies, rings and lockets, plain or enamelled; gold necklaces and stones of all sorts. Like-wise makes and mends all sorts of silversmith's work; also ladies' fans neatly mended. He gives the highest price for old gold silver and jewels; buys rough coral, handsome pebbles and black cornelian, fit for seal stones. He has fitted a lapidary mill up where he cuts all sorts of stones, engraves all sorts of coins, crests, cyphers, heads and fancies, in the neatest manner and greatest expedition, with the heads of Lord Chat-ham, Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, Pope, Homer, Socrates, Hannibal, Marc Anthony, Caesar, Plato, Jupiter, Apollo, Neptune, Mars, Cleopatra, Diana, Flora, Venus, Marcelania, Masons arms, with all emblems of Liberty; Cupid fancies, hearts and doves neatly engraved for ladies' trinkets ; likewise silver and steel seals. He also plaits hair in the neatest manner. N. B. Takes likenesses off in hair as natural as possible, as to the form of visages, works hair in sprigs, birds, figures, cyphers, crests and cupid fancies."

Mr. Naphtaly Hart Myers, who lost his Hoop ring in 1757, was a dealer who made periodical trips to Europe. In 1764, he offered for sale " a sett of jewels, consisting of a pair of three drop diamond earrings, Egrat, Salatair, Hoop and other Rings."

A vast amount of paste was also worn. Paste glittered everywhere from the aigrettes in the coiffure to the buckle on the shoe.

On pages 191 and 256 is shown specimen jewelry of the time. Page 191 shows some shoe, stock and knee-buckles of gold and silver. These are arranged to show the obverse of each pair. On the same illustration are chatelaines, watches and buttons. Two more watches with other articles appear on page 251. Page 256 shows a collection of brooches, ear-rings, rings, pendants, two necklaces and a bracelet of brilliants or marquisate, known as paste.

Turning now to the importations of jewelry, we may note French necklaces, sleeve-buttons and New York pattern buckles, in 1743 ; scarf-buttons, in 1745 watches and earrings of various sorts, in 1747 ; silver girdles, necklaces, silver set sleeve and waistcoat buttons, and breast and shirt metal buttons, in 1750 ; breast-buckles, the most fashionable earrings, neck-laces, and bracelets, in 1760; shoe, knee, stock and girdle-buckles, amber and garnet necklaces, silver pinchbeck watches and seals, paste set and jap'd hair pins, elegant paste and double gilt shoe and knee buckles, and paste and mock garnet necklaces and earrings, and French, India and pearl necklaces and ear-rings, 1767 ; very neat paste set tortoise-shell knee buckles, paste garnet jet, wax and pearl necklaces and earrings, stone sleeve-buttons and carnelian and paste seals, pearl neck-laces, necklaces and black beads, stone sleeve-buttons set in silver, paste earrings, mock garnets, stone-set hair pins, coral bells, rings for necklaces, and crystal bosom buttons, 1769. One of the ordinary necklaces of the day appears on this page. It is of imitation opal and diamonds. A handsome pearl necklace and earrings are worn by Cornelia Beekman on page 247.

Sleeve-buttons were somewhat uncommon, on account of the enormous amount of lace ruffles worn. A few have occurred in the above importations, and the following loss was published in 1733 :

" Lost between Bowery Lane and Greenwich, a Pair of Gold Sleeve Buttons. Whoever shall find said Buttons and bring them to Mr. Todd, next door to the Coffee House in New York, shall have a sufficient reward."

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