The Magpie's Jewel Box

A treasure trove of sparkly bits and pieces


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Jewellery books are top of the Magpie’s Christmas wish list

If Santa plans to stop by my house, could he please deliver the following books which appear on my Christmas wish list and are all available from Amazon:

7000 years of Jewellery by Hugh Tait. This books draws mainly on the collections held by The British Museum (hardly surprising, really, as the Museum published the book!). It is a broad illustrated history which looks at the different styles, techniques and materials used to make jewellery around the world.

Miller’s Costume Jewellery by Judith Miller.  This book provides an introduction to costume jewllery, starting in Ancient Egypt and exploring everything from Art Deco and Hollywood jewellery to the lives of key designers, their designs and makers marks.  The author is an expert on jewellery, founded the best-selling Miller’s Antiques Price Guide and has written over 100 books. She is also one of the experts appearing on the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow‘ and presented the BBC TV series ‘The House Detectives’ and ITV1’s ‘Antiques Trail’.

Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox.  This book covers 100 years of jewellery history, from Lalique’s Art Nouveau enamelling and Cartier’s gemstones to Christian Dior’s costume jewellery and Harry Winston‘s diamonds. It sounds like a visual delight and a valuable source of information about the leading designers and jewellery houses. Caroline Cox is a visiting professor at the London School of Fashion and a leading fashion authority.

Jeweller’s Directory to Gemstones: A Complete Guide to Appraising and Using Precious Stones from Cut and Colour to Shape and Setting (bit of a mouthful, that one!) by Judith Crowe.

This book provides a full description of each gemstone and how it can be used in jewellery, a history of the cuts and useful information about identifying, buying and caring for the gems.  Sounds ideal for jewellery makers.

If I am lucky enough to receive all of the above, I will review each book in future posts. In the meantime, I will try to be good so that Santa pays a visit …

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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.