I purchased this sweet little (late Victorian?) 10k comet pin online. The photo was terrible, and so I was delighted when I got to view this piece in person (or shall I say “in pin”?). Anyway, after taking the above photo I noticed that it has a “black dot paste” gem. Cool!
Paste, in case you don’t know, is basically glass that has been treated as a gemstone. Antique “paste” is very special because it was not mass produced like today’s glass stones are. Black dot paste is a paste stone that has a tiny black dot painted on the bottom. This is supposed to mimic the open culet of early diamond cuts.
I don’t normally purchase items online that have terrible pictures, but this time I lucked out! 🙂
Today I am wearing this antique comet pin on my jacket lapel. The dealer who sold this to me said that is made from 14k gold, black enamel, and a French “paste” stone. Like most antique comet pins, there is no maker’s mark. My guess is that, since it is from the Victorian era and since there is black involved, this pin might also be a piece of mourning jewelry. Perhaps a loved-one passed during the year that Halley’s Comet made its appearance?
I love the detail in this piece. The comet’s tail is similar to the shape of an arrow, and the prongs around the stone simulate a star burst. I am assuming that this is an earlier piece of Victorian jewelry because I’ve been told that later Victorian pins were not as ornate. It might even be from the Georgian era, which would be commemorating the 1835 appearance of Halley’s Comet. I would love for an expert to find this blog and comment here. 🙂
Today marks the arrival of comet Pan-STARRS in the Northern Hemisphere. I live in CA, but sadly we have too many clouds to see anything today. Fortunately, this comet is supposed to stick around for a few days so my fingers are crossed for some good viewing soon. I am wearing the comet necklace that I made today (see the main photo of this blog) as well as one of my antique comet pins:
The pin above is an example of a classic Edwardian/Victorian Halley’s Comet pin, circa 1910. It is made of rose gold and has a stone that appears to be topaz (though it might be glass “paste”). Like most antique Halley’s Comet pins, it is unsigned.
In the coming days, I will post more pictures of pins from my collection along with what I know about them. if you have any info to add, then please feel free to share it here.
Humans have been making comet jewelry for hundreds of years, and Halley’s Comet has been a particularly rich source of inspiration for jewelers from the Georgian to the Victorian eras. When I first began collecting antique comet jewelry, I lamented the fact that I will probably be too old to work with wire the next time Halley’s Comet comes around. But then, I learned about the ISON comet that is supposed to be spectacular at the the end of this year (and, hello, Pan-STARRS comet!)! To me, this was a sign that I should not let Halley’s schedule get in the way of creating my own version of the comet.
Here is my version of a comet. I crafted this necklace from recycled sterling silver wire, sterling silver chain, and natural snow quartz. Comets consist of rock and ice, hence my choice of gemstone. I am excited about this design. and have plans to expand it further. In the meantime, I will share some of my collection of vintage comet jewelry here. Stay tuned!