1480s Florence – my costume jewellery

Finished necklace for my 1480s Florence costume.

Finished necklace for my 1480s Florence costume.

In an earlier post I shared some of my research thus far on jewellery for my 1480s Florence costume, and here I’ll show off some of the things I made to go with the outfit.

Necklaces

The first necklace (above) is frankly, the one I’m most pleased with. I think it LOOKS reasonably appropriate, it took a lot of work, and I think it turned out pretty well, so hurray for me!

This one is a “gold” setting with a black “stone” with minimal faceting (there’s a bit, but it’s pretty minimal, which from my reading is appropriate It’s strung on a faux pearl and (real) coral bead necklace with a toggle fastener (the same toggles I used to lace my dress, minus the bar) and there are three teardrop-shaped pearls hanging from the pendant.

The second necklace, along with two brooches in the same style.

The second necklace, along with two brooches in the same style.

The second necklace I also like, though the stone is “off” – it’s more faceted than I would like, and I really do like the chunkier look of the other necklace – but this was a pretty fast and simple re-make from a modern piece of costume jewellery, so it wins my “well that was a lot easier” award – and was pretty much my back-up plan in case the other necklace didn’t turn out…

I also would have liked it if the stone was rectangular instead of oval – since most of the jewellery I’ve seen in paintings seem to have square or rectangular jewels rather than oval, round, marquise, or other cut ones.

It has an amber-coloured “stone” which is a bit too faceted for the age I’m looking at, strung on a faux pearl and (real) coral bead necklace with a toggle fastener (the same toggles I used to lace my dress, minus the bar) and there are three teardrop-shaped pearls hanging from the pendant.

Brooches

Most of my research shows that a woman would have only worn ONE “important” brooch – on her shoulder or as a necklace – but I made two because the lack of symmetry would have likely driven me nuts. Plus they aren’t particularly fancy I figure… and my costume is already throwing sumptuary laws to the wind on other things…

These brooches have the same amber-coloured too-faceted “stones” in the gold-tone setting as the necklace above, while having only a single teardrop-shaped pendant hanging from it. It’s also turned horizontally, to create a shape I like better for a brooch personally.

Faux clasps

The faux clasps were clip-on earrings originally.

The faux clasps were clip-on earrings originally.

For a belt, I needed clasps – but I was a bit concerned about cutting the belt to length, only to need a new size in time. I decided to take some earrings and put pin-backs on them to turn them into faux clasps for the belt. I can use one or both to secure the fabric belt.

The earrings are in the “look and feel” category more so than something I really researched – I already had them (and I don’t even know where I originally picked them up) and they’re gold-tone circles with large dome pearls in the center, ringed with black rectangular “stones” and smaller domed pearls. The pearl is appropriate, and the square-shaped stones are right, but the overall shape of the item as a brooch is probably incorrect. These clasps generally won’t actually be SEEN though for the most part, so I’m not too worried.

Making my jewellery

The original earrings shown with the finished brooches and a pendant ready to string.

The original earrings shown with the finished brooches and a pendant ready to string.

All of the jewellery with the amber-colored “stones” started their lives as costume jewellery. I picked up a few pairs of earrings that were the same style, cut off the earring posts with wire cutters, and then coated the back of the piece with glue (to keep any remaining cut metal from scratching my skin or snagging my fabric). (The earrings were from Ardene – not listed on their website.)

For the brooches I glued on a pin-back, and then wired a teardrop-shaped artificial pearl onto a head-ring, and looped it around one of the holes in the frame of the stone.  Pretty simple.

For the necklace I used a gold-tone jump ring to attach the pendant through one of the holes in the frame to the coral and pearl necklace. I used two small pearls in the middle so that the pendant would hang properly, and added the three teardrop-shaped pearls the same way as the brooches. I strung the faux pearls and coral beads on metal beading wire, and used gold-tone crimps to attach the toggle clasp.

For the black-stone necklace.. this started a bit differently.

The original box clasp, shown with the clasp tab on the right.

The original box clasp, shown with the clasp tab on the right.

First off, the pendant started as a fancy tab-insert box clasp for a necklace I picked up at Beads & Plenty More (also not listed on their website, but it was $4.50 before tax). (A quick look at Fire Mountain Gems didn’t pop up anything similar either… sorry online shoppers!)

I diregarded the tab-insert, and used my wire-cutters to remove the loops for stringing the necklace. The bonus with this clasp – it has an open work design on the sides – lots of holes with which to insert jump rings and strings. I tried filing the little rough bits as much as I could – but wasn’t having a great time of it, so used the same glue technique as with the other pieces to cover up and smooth out the rough bits so they wouldn’t catch on clothing.

The sealant on the pendant - it will dry totally clear.

The sealant on the pendant – it will dry totally clear.

Then comes the tricky part… I covered the entire silver-tone clasp with gold leaf adhesive (other than the central stone), gold leaf, (except on the central stone) and then gold leaf sealant. Basically, I turned the silver-tone clasp into a gold-tone pendant.

The finished newly gold pendant.

The finished newly gold pendant.

Two different kinds of stringing material for the necklaces

Two different kinds of stringing material for the necklaces

Then I strung it using nylon beading thread (much nicer than the metal wire) because I had hoped to knot the beads – but the holes were too big so I skipped that. I put one small pearl, put the thread through the pendant, put on another small pearl, pulled the thread back out from the pendant, and then put on a third small pearl, before continuing to string the coral and faux pearls. The small pearls make the pendant hang properly, but are pretty much unseen behind the frame of the pendant. Then I attached the same toggle clasp to finish the necklace.

 

starting to add black paint to the pendant to tone down the brightness

starting to add black paint to the pendant to tone down the brightness

Once this part was done.. I thought the gold was a bit too shiny. I used just a touch of black paint to try to dull down the shine of the gold, but went too far, and it was just too dark for me.

 

To bring back the gold again, I ended up recovering the gold with a tiny touch of “antique gold” Rub & Buff that I .. well.. rubbed on and then buffed with a piece of scrap cloth. Then I sprayed the whole thing with some clear sealant spray. (stinky!) (Really, I should have unstrung the necklace, and done this with the pendant as a separate piece, but I was lazy, and just made a little shield out of paper witha hole in it to spray the pendant without spraying the beads.)

Adding antique gold rub & buff to my pendant.

Adding antique gold rub & buff to my pendant.

In retrospect, I probably should have left it with just the gold-leaf finish, but I’m still really happy with the final result.

Then the pendant got three dangling teardrop shaped pearls (in my stash I even found three tiny, tiny little gold-tone bead caps which went on the tops) with headpins and gold-tone jump rings.

For the faux clasps it was a lot more simple.

Glue and pin backs for the faux clasps

Glue and pin backs for the faux clasps

I used pliers to remove the clip-on earring from the backs of the ornaments, then just glued pin-backs on with use-anywhere glue that works for both plastic, metal, glass… anything.

 But not all plans work out….

Stitched pearls onto the stabilizer and earring frame,

Stitched pearls onto the stabilizer and earring frame,

I also started working on a variation of the sleeve/shoulder brooches using one of the same earrings – however as I worked on it, I liked it less and less. I basically just used some of the small pearls and strung them, looping them around the loops on the earring (with the back removed), sewing them also onto water-soluable embroidery stabilizer which then I dissolved.

The item with the stabilizer dissolved.

The item with the stabilizer dissolved.

I don’t like how visible the threads are, so I opted not to use this piece.

To complete the jewellery for this outfit

I don’t wear earrings, so I didn’t add any earrings to this outfit when I wore it. I opted not to wear bracelets either with this outfit, and information on bracelets in general was a bit hard to find.

The last of the jewellery I added was rings. In my regular jewellery collection I have a number of small rings with little gemstones (reds and purples mostly for this costume) which I wore. They’re all silver-tone, but I was ok with that for the first time I wore it. Perhaps I’ll find some gold-tone ones in the next while to add to the collection for this costume.

The non-'Fresco' filtered photo of my full outfit (after the event) with the Giornea on top.

The non-‘Fresco’ filtered photo of my full outfit (after the event) with the Giornea on top.

Above is the photo you’ve seen a few times before -taken after the event where you can see one of the two brooches (on my sleeve), and the necklace. I think I want to make larger (and more accurate) brooches for future wear, if I find the right kind of base to start with. I only wore one of the necklaces – I far preferred the one with the black stone, so opted for that – the other one will go in my stash in case this one becomes damaged or something.

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