In my latest book, due out December 15, a drunken young man breaks into the heroine’s house, eager to give her a jewelry box he bought for her. All my Thalia knows is that a man has broken into her home, and why would he do that unless he meant her harm? She retaliates by beating him with a baluster. In the melee, he drops the gift he’d brought her and quickly leaves. The next day, Thalia finds this present, a small bronze-like metal jewelry box. It isn’t until later that she learns who her invader was and that he was the one who left the little box behind.
Egypt was the birthplace of jewelry boxes. The styles and decorations on these boxes take many forms, some simple, some extremely elaborate. Traditionally speaking, any receptacle whose purpose is to contain jewelry and precious items associated with jewelry can be considered a jewelry box. No matter which term you use; jewelry box, jewelry casket or trinket box—all have the same use, and only differ in size and form.
During the Victorian era (1873-1901), jewelry boxes became a craze. Such boxes sometimes displayed small beautiful sculptures of children, flowers, animals, etc. They became popular when purchasing accessories rose up and fulfilled the tabletops of houses during that time. Some boxes were also decorated with illustrations of Kate Greenaway.
Some jewelry boxes were designed to commemorate a specific event or era. For example, at the World’s Fair in 1904, there is a variety of goods on offer including jewelry boxes. For the owners, the box may not have a big value. Meanwhile, in the collectors’ eyes, the boxes were valuable but many jewelry boxes ended up in the attic or basement. Collecting antique jewelry boxes has become a popular hobby today.
In the early 1900s, Art Nouveau was introduced in France and a madness over metal jewelry box began. These boxes were called coffins and were produced in large quantity. They were made of cast metal and given finishing touches such as gold, silver, or ivory. The ivory box was made by painting it so it tended to be more durable than other types of metal. The motifs that decorated them include flowers, birds, and a woman with her hair flowing like waves. Flower boxes were capitalized on the trend of Victoria and every kind of flower drawn implied a certain meaning.
Originally, jewelry boxes resembled treasure chests, hence the term ‘jewelry casket’. These were usually larger boxes, which would be considered slightly smaller than a chest, and were usually footed.
The Egyptians preferred gold jewelry often encrusted with precious gems and as such, a secure, yet often well decorated box or casket was required to keep such items safe. In Rome, jewelry was a status symbol, with only certain ranks permitted to wear rings for example. Fine brooches were used to secure items of clothing, and again, jewelry boxes were required for storage.
Until the Victorian era, owning jewelry was a rare luxury, and to have enough to need storage for it was a privilege bestowed upon only a few members of royalty and high society.
Fine jewelry became more affordable to the mass market after the industrial revolution, due to the reduction in cost once machine cutting of stones and metal was possible. Jewelry boxes and caskets therefore became smaller, due to the necessity for more middle-class families to have in their homes, while only containing very few pieces of jewelry.
Trinket boxes were also common in Victorian households full of collectables and pieces of interest. These were much smaller than traditional jewelry boxes, accommodating smaller items such as rings— and much fewer of them than is typical today.
At the turn of the 20th century, novelty jewelry boxes enjoyed popularity. This was due to the Victorian’s interest in filling their homes with decorative items of interest and intrigue, rather than simply owning that which was practical and necessary for daily life. Novelty boxes were created to look as though they are a statue or are in the form of something else— such as an Edwardian jewelry box created in the form of a miniature 18th century card table.
The variety of styles and sizes of antique silver jewelry boxes mean that any taste can be catered to—everything from minimal clean lines or ornate floral decoration are available on our site, depending on the personal taste of the owner and their home décor. Antique and vintage jewelry boxes are timeless gifts that take pride of place in any home, and that are appreciated by all jewelry lovers and collectors.
How about you? What kind of jewelry box do you have or maybe none at all?
Thalia is on sale now at http://a.co/d/840EwUo
This is #7 of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series. Up next is Eleanora by Pam Crooks.