Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Owl always love you… 
A romantic tradition by 1950
Early 1900s cutie 
Paper expressions of endearment sent in the name of St. Valentine began in the late 1800s. Sending a valentine was a socially acceptable declaration of affection or flirtation. 
     Some were home-crafted of doily lace and fabric. Others were elaborate tiered scenes created with bright German chromolithograph cut-outs and twinkling glass glitter. In America, Esther Howland is credited with beginning the first commercial valentine company. 
     Through the decades, sending roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates with a valentine card became tradition. Greeting card companies, namely Gibson, American Greetings and Hallmark, through their artwork and messages, have traced love in popular culture for the last 100 years. Perhaps you remember the fun of the classroom Valentine exchange in grade school. Or the funny little card your first love gave to you –it’s still around, somewhere. Those joyful subjects, silly rhymes and gushing sentiment can still bring back memories, with a grin or a tear.  To honor and remember those sweet days of red and pink, we offer our collection of six Sweet Romance Valentine pins, the images adapted from actual vintage Valentines.  What stirs your heart? Share your own Valentine memory here with our readers. 
Created from  actual vintage valentines, six Sweet Romance Valentines pins remind us of halcyon days of pink and red. Click here to view and shop.;

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Engage with us - Share your thoughts!

Now that you're emailing us, we'd like to share your commentary and stories with other readers on our blog. Post a comment of between 100 and 400 words about a past era you'd love to live in for a day and why - is it a specific fashion you wanted to wear, a dance you wanted to dance or a special man you wanted to meet? To thank you, we'll send you a beautiful art deco ring at no charge and with our compliments.

Simply leave a comment on ANY of our posts below. You must leave your name with the comment. Then, email us at sweetroman@aol.com with your ring size (6, 7, 8 or 9) & mailing address.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Art Deco: Angles and curves traveling at the speed of life

The decade of the 1920s, later known as the Art Deco era, was a defining line in fashion history. Frills, flourishes and the suffocating corset were left behind in haste to enter a new world influenced by automobiles, the radio, an eight hour work day and the right to vote. Women felt empowered and optimistic. 

Couture dress designs were translated into affordable, ready-to-wear fashions and replaced home sewing for the average woman. Stylish dresses went sleeveless, hemlines were shortened and waistlines dropped to the hip. Also popular and vampy was the revealing body-clinging, bias cut dress.  Jewelry was worn to soften and feminize one look and while accentuating the exotic heat of the other.  Chanel and Schiaparelli noted the relationship and both designers introduced “statement” jewelry to complement their apparel collections.  In explaining the importance of fashion jewelry, Chanel declared “It doesn’t matter if it looks real, as long as it is fake.” 

The “costume jewelry” industry exploded.  European workshops in Bohemia created glass stones, faceted and ornamented in a range of experimental styles and colors, from rhinestones to molded glass made to resemble jade. Production of synthetic stones in a consistent color palette and size range was begun by the young Bohemian glasscutter Daniel Swarovski. Exported to American jewelry factories, novelty jewels were used to embellish everything from bracelets to shoe clips.  In Japan, glassmakers formulated lustrous “indestructible pearls” which resulted in the fashion of wearing a long rope of faux pearls clutched together with a rhinestones pin. It was a swanky swinging necklace to wear in front and a daringly exotic accessory to wear down the back.

Sources inspiring jewelry design included the Paris International Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, the sets and costuming of the extravagant, colorful Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and fascination with the Orient. Traditional motifs were interpreted in highly stylized and graphic forms using art glass, enameling, pave set crystal, beads and cabochon cut stones. 

Art Deco design took form in geometric lines and symmetry. Graduating, expanding, overlapping and cascading shapes conveyed the appearance of movement and speed.  It expressed the era of industry and quickly advancing mechanization. Cars, skyscrapers, neon signs, chrome toasters and jewelry all exhibited streamline geometric design. The sleek stylism of shooting stars and neon arrows seemed to point the way to the next decade, humming along at the speed of life.

Fashionable Flapper: Almost a 100 years later and still the bee’s knees

The era of the flapper began in 1920 at the close of WWI and it ended abruptly, with the Crash of 1929.  The period was a particularly restless, defiant and ultimately liberating time for women. As they began to vote and work and drive, they resisted the status quo, causing liberating changes in both fashion and self-expression.

Fashion was yielding to the modern era after decades of constricting and voluminous Victorian attire.  The sweeping fashion evolution of the era was brilliantly chronicled in the costuming of the television mini-series Downton Abbey. Stylish women abandoned corsets for a light chemise. Hemlines shortened, waistlines dropped and sleeveless, loose fitting dresses were the rage. Essential to the flapper style was the long necklace, especially pearls and stacks of bracelets.  Years of growing long hair were ended by the bobbed cut and Marcel wave, making dangle earrings indispensable. Trending cloche hats and oversize portrait hats brought attention to a heavily powdered face, sultry kohl-rimmed eyes and a deep red rosebud mouth. 

Hollywood movie studios publicized the glamour and sophistication of their stars to millions of women who wanted to emulate the modern clothes, hair and makeup of their screen idols. Legends such as Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Josephine Baker, Clara Bow and Gloria Swanson portrayed the changing roles of women on and off screen. Up and coming designers Chanel, Schiaparelli and Lanvin, fueled the fashion boom during the prosperous period of the Roaring Twenties.  By her own economic means, a woman could drive herself to a department store, shop a wide selection of ready-to-wear dresses and purchase them on credit terms.

The emergence of seminal art and style movements in the 1920s is what kept this particular decade continuously influential through the century. The ebb and flow of 1920s fashion trends, from vampy false eyelashes and lipstick to statement jewelry and seamed stockings continues into the 21st century.  The inspiration of the Flapper has never lapsed.  We’ve seen her reprise in dozens of movies set in the ‘20s, most recently The Great Gatsby and soon, CafĂ© Society.  Yet, her fashion innovations and artifacts are a mere reflection of the independent social role she pioneered for modern women. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

The story of my enchanted lake..

The late August days of summer vacation were usually hot and quiet. A secret place I went to escape the heat and boredom was probably just a stagnant pond behind the cosmetic factory. 

But, to me, it was an enchanted lake... 

An abandoned railroad track led the way beyond mounds of gravel and through a tangle of trees. Tall weeds and thorny bushes formed a threshold to view the sparkling water. Silver marsh grass rose from the banks around gnarled fallen tree trunks. Waxen lilies on tubular stems arched over to see their reflection in the water. A colony of frogs chirped along with the buzzing of iridescent insect wings and the trills of field birds.


Shop the designs that are inspired by my memories of this magical place...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Love Transcends Time

If you believe that love transcends time, that’s the message I’m hoping to bring to you with this jewelry suite. I had the good fortune to be around when the Victoria and Albert museum got together portraits by Levina Teerlinc, a woman, and an important woman at that. She was the royal painter at the Tudor court, specifically Elizabeth I. In 1564, she painted a portrait of Elizabeth wearing what appeared to be a bracelet just peeking beneath the hem of her sleeve which was a series of emblems and insignias attached to a chain. By no mere coincidence, the same set of emblems and insignia were worn on the Canterbury Chain of Robert Dudley, which was also seen in portraits of him.

Elizabeth elevated Robert Dudley to the peerage in the same year she was 31 years old. He was a common nobleman around the court. It goes without saying – says I – that they had a remarkable love relationship which lasted 30 years. When Elizabeth died, among her most personal and treasured belongings was a letter that she inscribed on the envelope: “The last letter he sent me.”’ If there is such a thing as transcending decades, there is such a thing as transcending centuries.  It’s no mystery that the love and passion of probably the greatest and most legendary woman monarch who ever lived will appeal to the modern woman of today.

My quest to recreate the fabled necklace and bracelet resulted in this design, transmitting opulence through exquisite hand-worked detail and a regal palette of crystal and vintage stones. Each miniature emblem, plated in gold, silver and bronze, is mounted on a bronze finish book chain that has been produced from old dies of the late 1800s. Many artists have contributed to the creation of your jewelry. May it lift your spirits and make you feel just a little bit like royalty. 

An outstanding gift choice. Click here to shop this collection...

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Sunrise Motel…

A true Halloween story

Bat Bangle Bracelets
In the 1960s, a typical family summer vacation was the car trip. And, like every other California family, mine headed for the national parks.  We zipped along highways and crept down gravel roads on our way to exploring canyons, deserts, caverns, and forests. The itinerary for a week long excursion would swing through several locales. Mom undertook the packing – clothes for all of us, sandwiches for the ice chest and a thermos for coffee. Dad gassed up the Plymouth for 32 cents a gallon and perused interstate routes on a gigantic fold out map that never folded back down to its original size.

One week, in late October 1968, my dad got the itch to visit Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah state line. Putting in marathon mileage behind the wheel, by the end of day two, he announced he was stopping. The sun was setting and a Motel 6 or Travel Lodge was nowhere in sight.  We were miles from the next cluster of roadside hospitality and street lights.  In the gathering darkness, we spotted a lone neon sign ‘Sunrise Motel,’ and Dad pulled off the highway.

More tired than hungry, we gratefully accepted lodging in a small, dingy cabin divided into two rooms. Dad and my brother shared the back; my mother and I in front. We’d finally settled in, our blankets pulled way up to shield us from cold drafts wafting through the cabin. They noisily rustled the window shutters like unseen fingers stroking harp strings, but we fell asleep anyway. 

It must have been some hours later that I was startled awake by knocking at the door separating our rooms. My dad opened the door a crack. “Evelyn,” he called softly, “I think a bird got into our room.” Mom was groggy and not in the mood for bird catching.   “Open your window a little-- maybe he’ll find his own way out. “ The door closed, but not fifteen minutes later, it opened again.  “Ev—there’s more than one bird. They’re roosting in here…listen…hear that chirping?” She pulled on her robe and opened the door wide. Desert moonlight filtered into the room, revealing an eerie sight.  There were rows of bats, not birds, lining the beams of the ceiling. Suspended upside down, they looked like rows of dead leaves shivering in a gentle wind.  One of them suddenly broke ranks and darted across the room to a window frame, completely outlined in bats.
Bat Necklace

Trying to hide her alarm, Mom grimaced and held a finger to her lips, ordering silence. As quietly and moving as smoothly as possible, leaving bathrobes and toothbrushes behind, Dad and my brother slipped into our room, closing the door to theirs, now filled with chirping bats. Dad hugged an open suitcase under each arm instead of clicking them shut while Mom ever so carefully lifted the front door latch for our escape.

Outside, still uncertain of our proximity to danger, we tiptoed to the Plymouth, our wonderful big blue, four door, bat-less refuge.  Everyone pretended to nap as we waited for sunrise before driving away.

Friday, September 25, 2015

These leaves will never fade...

Sure to be a favorite autumn keepsake!
Little squirrels chatter among a fall harvest of pearl acorns, Czech glass leaves and leaves of different trees in copper and bronze. Note the enamel leaf on the toggle clasp. In the 1940s, larger, expressive costume jewels were indispensable accessories to fashion. Throughout autumn, retail jewelry counters swelled with novelty pieces. Wooden acorns were clustered on plastic chain. Carved bakelite leaves formed bar pins. Even natural nuts and pods were crafted into jewelry. Lavish charm bracelets became the rage! In the 1950s, designers began creating bolder pieces with colors and themes neither inspired by nor adapted from previous jewelry. 

Hungry little squirrel
Our bracelet displays a Fall harvest of glass pearl acorns, autumn color glass and metal leaves. Can you spot the three hungry little squirrels hiding among the leaves? Keep it forever and flaunt it every fall! Jingle jangle warmth and whimsy.