Cavewoman: Most of my vintage pieces are paste. Rhinestones set in jewelers' metal, glass-based pearls, almost all would be considered costume jewelry. But there are just a few pieces I would call real antiques, made of fine metals and showing exquisite craftsmanship. The small coral cameo is set in gold over sterling, which is typical of much of the cameo jewelry from the Torre Del Greco area of Italy, near Naples. Italians use the gold-over-silver instead of lowering the karat content of their jewelry, which by law can't be less than 18k when sold in Italy. I visited the Giovanni Apa factory and showroom several years ago, and many superbly carved cameos are set in the vermeil metal. I love coral and I found this tiny piece at a local antique shop.
The second cameo has exquisite filigree and three colors of gold. That makes me think that although the cameo itself was most likely carved in the Torre Del Greco area, it may have been sent to perhaps Florence to be set in that frame. The flower detail is delicate and fine. I think this may be the first piece I ever saw that featured green gold.
The bar pin is platinum with a fine Ceylon sapphire. I have no idea where it came from originally, but this was a purchase I made at a twice-a-year fine antiques market that takes place in Northeast Ohio not too far from here. The white metal showcases the sapphire perfectly.
I wanted to show the little charms that my Grandmother selected in Italy for herself. The little key has a disc attached that says "Della Felicita" -- loosely translated, that means "for happiness." I'm sure she chose the little heart just because it is pretty, and everyone knows what the hand means. (If you don't, it is a protective charm to ward off the mal'occhio, the "evil eye" which someone mean can give to you if they are jealous of you or wish harm on you. You can see my Grandma's hand stitching on the piece of blue hemming tape that she used to pin the charms into her bra. Forgive me, Grandma, for divulging your little secret. I treasure the blue tape as much as I do the charms. This was her style. I can't pinpoint the date of these charms, but they are all 18k gold and came from Rome.
That's about the extent of my vintage collection. I've enjoyed sharing it all, despite the frustrations and limitations of my basic point-and-shoot camera.
I hope you've enjoyed your visit to my jewelry box!