What You Need To Know About Pink Antique Jewellery
Unless you have been living under a rock, antique paste jewellery is currently all the rage. From black dot Paste to fancy foiled Paste creations, the Georgians and Victorians clearly were ahead of their time. One of the most rare finds is pink Paste! Always quick to fly off the shelves at Lillicoco HQ, antique pink paste jewellery is, in our opinion, the Crème de la crème of Paste jewellery.
If you are looking for a pink jewellery set, and you have a penchant for jewellery history, then you will want to all about pink antique jewellery! Not to mention, if you were one the lucky few to nab our rare pink Paste pieces, then this blog will pique your interest even more.
Why Is Pink Paste So Rare?
Of course, you just have to know, why is pink antique Paste so rare? As we explain further below, the actual concept of “pink” in the 17th and 18th century relatively an infant concept, and it certainly wasn’t the phenomena that we know today. Of course, natural pink gemstones were around, but they were rare to source, and also other gemstones like Amethyst, Rubies and Emeralds were more popular.
In the 17th to 18th century, the most prevalent pink gems were Pink Topaz, Pink Sapphires and fuschia Rubies, but even then, this was only likely to have been enjoyed by the upper echelons of society. The introduction of Paste in the mid 18th century completely changed the jewellery game, and Paste was almost, if not more revered, than Diamonds at this point in history.
However, as illustrated in our antique Paste blog, the most sought after Paste designs were ones that were made just to look like the real deal. So, this was Black Dot Paste (Diamond Paste), Emerald Paste, Amethyst Paste and Garnet Paste. Even though Pink gemstones were rare, and also popular, it was likely that there was more demand for the former creations. Not to mention, lots of antique jewellery has been broken up, damaged or stolen which is also another reason as to why there is a lack of antique Pink Paste today. Of course, those who did want Pink Paste were certainly ahead of their time, and for the lucky few who have them today it's worth every single penny.
It's not just pink Paste, but pink foils were also super popular and were used to give a rosy glow to white Paste, Garnets, Topaz, Rock Crystal, and Amethysts. This exploded onto the Georgian and Victorian jewellery scene in the 17th and 18th century, let's find out why.
This Famous Georgian Jewellery Style in Context - The Little History of Pink
As mentioned above, there are many factors as to why pink Paste was both rare, but also it was highly fashionable. It is believed that pink was first used as a “colour” option in the late 17th century, when the pastel saturated court of Marie Antoinette and Madame Du Pompadour brought pink to the forefront of French fashions. Of course, pink in itself was used as a pigment in Renaissance and Medieval paintings, symbolic of marriage and familial love, but at this time it was known as "rose" or "pale red". The name pink actually comes from the Dianthias flowers which were also called "pinks"!
The way that pink was interpreted throughout history is very significant, as today it has highly feminised connotations. But, in the 19th century, pink was actually a colour of choice for young boys, as it was the fashion for Englishman to wear red naval uniforms, a reference to its former "pale red" name.
The Swing, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c.1767, Source - Wikimedia Commons
Nevertheless, pink was hugely popular in the French rococo period, both the French Queen Marie Antoinette and the King’s Mistress Madame Du Pompadour wore pink regularly at court and in their portrait paintings, quickly making pink symbolic of love, seduction, fertility and tenderness.
The advent of pink that we know today really dominated the world in the 20th century, during the post-war consumerist boom. Like in the Victorian period, in the 1920s, pink was again seen as a masculine colour. However, in the 1930s and 1940s the surrealist designer Elsa Schiaparelli created the colour “Shocking Pink” with Jean Coctau, which quickly translated through to her womenswear collections. Hollywood films like Funny Face (1957) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) further cemented pink with women’s fashion, and with meaning of flirtatious frippery, innocence, power and seduction, four virtues associated with women.
Obviously, because of this, we view hot pink as synonymous with modern fashions which is why it's so beguiling to see its bright saturation in antique Paste, only 150-200 years before.
Pink Gemstones in Jewellery Through the Eras
Today, if you are looking for a pink jewellery set, it is likely that on the high street you will find Rose Quartz and Tourmaline. Higher priced items will be Pink Sapphire, Morganite, Pink Topaz and even , in the most expensive of cases, Pink Diamonds!
As mentioned previously, in antique jewellery, true pink gemstones were uncommon to find, with the most prevalent being Rose Quartz, and in the most expensive cases, Pink Topaz. It also wouldn’t have been completely out of place to have Pink Spinel used in antique jewellery. In fact, we had a Victorian Pink Spinel ring in our shop not so long ago!
In the Georgian period however, there was certainly an appetite for Pink Topaz. The fashion for Pink Topaz began in 1735, when a cluster of Pink Imperial Topaz was found in the Minais Gerais. Since it's discovery, glittering Georgian suites of Chrysoberyl and Pink Topaz have littered the auction rooms of Christies and Sothebys, an insight into how the Georgian elite clearly had a penchant for something pink! Perhaps this was one of the reasons why there was also plenty of Pink foiled Paste, to compete with this rare and sought after gemstone.
As mentioned above, Rose Quartz has persevered to be one of the most common gems in jewellery history, used since the Assyrians in 800-600 BC. Rose Quartz has also garnered associations of love and romantic sentiment, which is why it has become a powerful gemstone in crystal healing practises. Nevertheless, it was far easier to accrue Rose Quartz in the Victorian period and Edwardian period, which was why you can find antique Rose Quartz jewellery today.
Another popular pink gem in the Victorian period was Pink Tourmaline. Tourmaline was allegedly first discovered in the 1600-1700s, and it's unrivalled breadth of colour made them easily mistaken for Emeralds, Rubies and Sapphires. However, in the 1860s, vast deposits of Pink Tourmaline were found in California, meaning that it quickly became in fashionable in both American and Chinese antique jewellery. Apparently, the Dowager Empress of the Ching Dynasty Tzu Hsi bought plenty of these Pink Tourmalines for her jewellery suite.