Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Spotlight: Damascene Jewelry


Last week I picked up some new-to-me vintage jewelry, shocking I know ;) I have long wanted to pick up some more damascene pieces to match a bracelet I have that I wear often. In the end I decided on the two pieces above, a maple leaf shaped brooch and a super cute pair of earrings--but you know what? These new pieces don't match my bracelet, because these pieces are Japanese (Amita) damascene and my bracelet is Spanish damascene. Huh? Well yes, there are two major types of damascene jewelry out there, but before I show you the difference, lets talk about what damascene actually is!

Wikipedia describes damascene as follows: 

"Damascening is the art of inlaying different metals into one another—typically, gold or silver into a darkly oxidized steel background"

Makes sense when you look at the jewelry above, dark metal background with designs inlaid in brighter metals. The technique is as old as ancient times in several parts of the world and has since had a long history in Japan, where it was used to decorate katana fittings among other things. Though popular as decoration on swords during the Edo period (1603-1868), after the Meiji Restoration government banned the carrying of swords the craftsmen turned to using the technique on other objects and jewelry. Damascene jewelry and items became a major souvenir and export items to the West and the most common name I've seen on Japanese damascene jewelry, Amita, started in 1932. There is a cool little breakdown of the company's history on their website here. Goodness knows I'd love to pick up some more damascene as souvenirs while traveling in Japan, anyone want to pay for my trip? 

All of this history is of particular interest to me as I have recently become really interested in the Meiji Restoration time period in Japan, but more on that nerdiness in tomorrow's post ;) Want to see some more pretty Japanese damascene (or as it is often known in Japanese, Shakudō (赤銅))?





Gorgeous! Then there is Spanish damascene, which is similar but the designs themselves are very different, tending to be more Renaissance or Islamic in style. My hunt will continue for earrings and a brooch in the Spanish damascene to match my bracelet, while of course now I want a Japanese damascene bracelet to match my new pieces! #shopaholic, or is it that I am a "collector"? Yeah that sounds better, collector *cough* Some examples of Spanish style damascene below :)



My bracelet is similar to this one :)


Do any of you have any damascene jewelry or objects? I definitely will be collecting more in the future! The Japanese designs particularly hold my heart at the moment, but the Spanish style is really pretty too! I hope you enjoyed our little jewelry lesson today :)


9 comments:

  1. My ex had inherited a damascene desk set -- a letter opener shaped like a tiny sword and a pen knife (folding style). Gorgeous. He super doesn't deserve them, but weirdly, he didn't think that *I* did either when we broke up :P

    It's a very pretty and understated look.

    -- Tegan

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    1. Bummer! I'd love a set of desk accessories, if I make it over to Japan the souvenir stores wont be ready for me, I'll have to bring an extra suitcase!

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  2. I've got a couple of bits of Damascene jewellery, and my husband has a Zippo with Damascene plates. They still make it in Toledo, so the tourist shops in Spain, but especially in Toledo, have loads of it for sale. Everything from tiny stud earrings to ornaments (mini Damascene grand piano or grandfather clock, anyone?), dishes, and larger, fancier pieces - I spotted a handmade replica of El Greco's 'The Burial of the Count of Orgaz' last time we were there. The handmade stuff is (as you'd expect) pricier than the machine made, but unless you're going for a large, unique piece I find it pretty hard to tell the difference. Two of my pairs of earrings are machine made, one handmade.

    Marcasite is also still widely made/worn in Spain (I recall silver jewellery being worn for Holy Week), so it's a great plae to pick up really good marcasite stuff.

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    1. I'll have to make it to Spain so I can see the Spanish damascene in its shining glory, though again I'd need an extra suitcase for all the goodies I'd want to take home with me! I love marcasite too so I'd be in serious trouble ;)

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    2. Well, if I remember, next time I go out there I'll get you to send me a photo of your bracelet, then I can try to find the brooch and earrings to match for you. Probably won't be till next year now, theough.

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  3. Wonderfully interesting and informative post, dear Bianca. I really like damascene jewelry (and have noticed that my Etsy customers do as well). It often has a subtle - or not so subtle (see the jaw dropping bat piece above) dark/goth quality to it that appeals to me immensely. A little mystery and intrigue is rarely a bad thing on the fashion front. :)

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thanks Jessica! That bat necklace right?! Amazing <3

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  4. I didn't know very much about this style of jewellery so I have learnt lots here! Your new pieces are really attractive.

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