The Magpie's Jewel Box

A treasure trove of sparkly bits and pieces

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Must-see jewellery at the V&A Museum

I first stumbled across the amazing jewellery collection at the V&A a couple of years ago and could not believe my eyes. I had never seen so much fantastic jewellery all in one place. If you love jewellery and are in London go and check out The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery (Rooms 91-93) at the Museum which displays around 3500 items of jewellery from the V&A’s collection.

The collection has a mainly European focus and includes everything from rings to tiaras and features examples from Ancient Greece to the present day, including several pieces with royal connections. You can see the work of famous jewellers such as Cartier, Lalique and Faberge as well as examples by 140 contemporary designers. Personally, I prefer the older pieces for their historical associations and, in many cases, their total over-the-topness!

The Museum is free to visit. Opening times are 10.00 to 17.45 daily and 10.00 to 22.00 Friday. I recommend getting there early because the jewellery gallery is very popular, is not particularly spacious and gets very crowded. Give yourself plenty of time to view the exhibits – they are stunning and deserve a good look! And don’t miss the beautiful gemstone ‘wheel’ near the gallery entrance – it includes examples of just about every gemstone you can think of and it’s worth visiting just to see that.

Finally, before you leave, take a look at the V&A shop where you can buy costume and designer jewellery.  Enjoy!

Photo by: Steve and Sara 


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Marcel Boucher costume jewellery – my new discovery

I was very fortunate to receive a gift recently of an art deco style necklace and clip earrings. The pieces were so well designed and the stones sparkled so much that initially I thought they might be diamonds set in white gold. However, a quick look on the reverse of each piece revealed not a hallmark but a serial number and a name: Boucher.

This made me think that I had an interesting piece of costume jewellery here so I did quickly some internet research.

From this I learned that my jewellery had been created by one of the most noted designers of costume jewellery in the US: Marcel Boucher (1898-1965). Having originally trained as an apprentice for Cartier in France, Boucher moved to New York in the 1920s, eventually setting up his own company in 1937 for which he designed and sold ‘high end’ costume jewellery.

All his pieces bear his maker’s marks which vary according to when the piece was made. The early marks are “Marboux” or “MB” while the later marks are “Marcel Boucher” and “Boucher”. My pieces are marked “Boucher” and I have dated the earrings to 1955. The necklace is later and I believe it may date from 1960 though I need to do more research.

From Googling Boucher, I have learned that his pieces are often quirky, always beautifully designed, very popular and highly collectible. There are many examples for sale via various websites (mainly in the US) and eBay at what I consider to be affordable prices.

Having known nothing about Boucher before I acquired my necklace and earrings, I am now fascinated and want to know more. I also want to start collecting. More on Boucher in future posts when, hopefully, I will have acquired some more pieces!

In the meantime, I came across a Canadian website called Penelope’s Pearls which sells Boucher vintage jewellery and includes some good photos and background information. I can’t vouch for the site personally as I have not purchased anything from them but it does give an idea of the type of jewellery made by Boucher and the prices his pieces currently attract. It’s also a nice site to visit.

For more information on Boucher try Jackson Jewels.

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Who supplies the sparkle for Strictly Come Dancing?

Glitter Ball

I’m a big fan of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and have often wondered who supplies the jewellery for the celebs and professional dancers. Watching last night’s show, I spotted dangly earrings, sparkling hair clips, bangles and cuffs aplenty so, when the dancing was over, I decided to find out who supplies all the glitz to the Beeb.  A quick search on the web revealed that it’s a company called Glitzy Secrets who specialise in wedding and costume jewellery and have been doing the business with Strictly for several series, including the 2012 season.

I spent a very enjoyable 20 minutes mooching round their website.  The jewellery is mostly crystal and pearl based but does include a small collection of coloured pieces. It all looks very glamorous and seems very reasonably priced. I can’t vouch for the quality but if it’s good enough for Strictly, it’s good enough for me.

Photo by: jonstead