Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Vintage: Richelieu Satinore Clasps

What we love most about vintage beads and components is the story that they have to tell, and whether that story is 'actual' and provided to us by the seller of the pieces, or is 'told' by the beads themselves as we handle them. It is this dialogue that we feel gives them an edge over modern mass-produced beads. This may well make you think 'phooey', but to us the very fact that something has been handled, loved, left in a drawer and forgotten, bears the scars of its manufacture, or demonstrates in miniature the skill of the craftsperson who made it, makes for a piece of jewellery with far greater intrinsic interest. Who doesn't wear the ring that their Great Grandmother got engaged with and wonder of her emotions upon that day?

Founded in 1911, Joseph H Meyer Bros. were an American costume jewellery manufacturer who produced a range under the brand name Richelieu. Richelieu jewellery was renowned for its fabulous simulated pearls - in actual fact beads and cabochons made from lucite and pearl essence with an effect that today is often referred to as cats eye or moonglow. Go to the Jewelry Patent Project for more information on this interesting manufacturing technique and the history of the patent taken out in the name of Maximilian C Meyer.

Above: An advertisement for Richelieu Satinore from 1948.

We have recently acquired some unused clasps from the Richelieu Satinore range. They are suitable for use with three-strand necklaces, and are of the type where a slide-in tongue is hidden behind a cabochon. All are marked with the Richelieu name on their reverse.

We have clasps in the citrus and white colourways (as per the ad shown). The metal fittings are all silver-plated and the clasps are strong and of good quality. They measure 19mm by 16mm including the side loops, and the height is 9.5mm. They are quite substantial in proportion and would complement chunkier beads.

We love that yellow!  Wouldn't it look great as a funky contrast colour to a necklace with royal blue or fuschia pink beads?

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