Roman Influence: Napier Byzantium Jewelry Collection
Influenced by Roman traditions, the jewelry from the Byzantine Empire played an important role toward the expression of social status and wealth. With an abundance of successful trade and available wealth. In the late 520s AD, the emperor Justinian established a law whereby only the emperor could legally wear sapphires, emeralds and pearls; leaving gold and other precious stones to be worn by the public. This lead to colorful rich detail in jewelry from the extensive use of precious stones not governed by the emperor. Gold metalwork, richly colored cabochons made from other fine stones, and Christian symbolism were iconic aspects of Byzantine-era jewelry. The Napier Byzantium Jewelry Collection offered such riches in color and style.
The Napier Co. in 1990 offered the “Byzantium” collection. The Limited Edition collection embodied the rich detail of Byzantine jewelry right down to the collet-style settings known to be characteristic of jewelry from this era. The group primarily utilized high-quality stones and glass. Napier offered the jewelry to a limited number of establishments numbering between 250 to 300 stores–oppose to the standard distribution to 2400 department and high-end stores. Of the 60 million dollars in sales for 1990, the Byzantium jewelry collection was expected to generate one million dollars in sales alone.
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There is great debate and discussion regarding the proper care of rhinestone and costume jewelry. However, experience has demonstrated that the most damaging elements to costume jewelry and rhinestone pieces in particular are moisture, food, or hairspray.
Rhinestone jewelry should never be immersed in water or cleaning fluids. The moisture gets trapped behind the stone and gradually degrades the foil, causing the stone to “turn” or discolor. The foil backing is what gives the stones their brilliance. Replacing stones can often be difficult if an exact match isn’t available.
In order to properly clean your jewelry there are some necessary tools one needs to have handy:
3. Baby toothbrush
4. Soft cloth (i.e. old tee-shirt)
5. Drying towel
7. Jewelers loop
8. Alcohol or soap solution of 5mls to 240mls.
With the loop carefully examine the piece prior to cleaning. Take note of any loose stones or prongs and fasten them securely before commencing. With the piece upside-down (stones facing down) gently begin the cleaning process with a Q-tip or toothbrush dipped sparingly into either solution. Do not over saturate either implement. As you begin to clean the piece, any loose debris can be gently dabbed away with another cleaning cloth or another Q-tip. Blot dry and place on drying towel upside-down to allow to thoroughly dry.
Note it may take several times of repeating this method to fully remove all of the dirt. Alcohol will dry faster, but will not cut the debris to the same degree as the soap solution. I prefer to initially to use the alcohol method and finish with one round of soap-solution.
Some collectors will also gently use a blow-dryer on the cool setting to remove any residual moisture.
Article re posted from The Jewelry Stylist. Sellers of fine vintage costume jewelry. From signed pieces to unsigned beauties they provide a wonderful resource of vintage jewels for the collector, covering 110 years of fashion adornment.