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A Brief History of the Modern-Day Jewelry Box
The history of the jewelry box dates back centuries. Throughout the ages, jewelry boxes have been designed and crafted by skilled craftsmen. The Industrial Revolution initiated the concept of mass production. It enabled the middle class of the society to purchase decorative items like the jewelry box along with other essential commodities. This was possible as jewelry boxes could be manufactured in bulk and the cost involved in the mass production was less.
Mail Order Luxuries
In the early 1900s, mail order catalogs such as Sears, Wards and Marshall Field, enabled the average family to purchase jewelry boxes from home. Even the jewelry stores put on display the latest and trendiest jewelry box designs. Jewel boxes were available in all sizes, from the smallest ring box to handkerchief and even glove sized boxes. The bottom parts of these boxes were as beautiful as the top design.
Antimonial lead was the most common base metal used for the construction of jewelry boxes. Initially, the jewelry boxes were electroplated with copper, and then finished with either gold or silver. Other finishing touches included French Bronze, Roman Gold, Pompeian Gold, French Gray, and Parisian Silver. Ivory finishes were introduced around 1911. Enamel finished boxes lasted longer than gold or silver boxes.
International Influences on Jewelry Boxes
International trade and travel opened new doors to decorative styles all over the globe. During the early 1900s, the most outstanding decorative style of jewelry boxes was Art Nouveau. It was a romantic design that was famous for its flowing, asymmetrical lines, with motifs relating to nature. The Nouveau design reflected flower sentiments on jewelry boxes; the four-leaf-clover for good luck, daisies for innocence, roses for love and beauty, and so on.
Numerous American Art Metal manufacturers produced and designed jewelry boxes. Jennings Brothers, Kronheimer and Oldenbusch, Benedict, NB Rogers, The Art Metal Works, Brainard and Wilson patented the premier Nouveau jewelry box designs; whereas Weidlich Brothers took several patents on their Colonial designs.
From 1904 to 1918, there was an overwhelming mass production of jewelry boxes. In this era, gold and silver boxes were very common. Silver-plated boxes are considered as antique jewelry boxes and are very rare. Other types of antique jewelry boxes include the souvenir boxes that have commemorative ceramic or photo discs. There are also the ivory finished boxes. Thought they were designed later, they are very hard to find. Their finishes were extremely durable. Hence, these antique jewelry boxes may still be passed down the family generations.
You might also find these jewelry box articles useful:
Jewelry Boxes 101: Answers to your questions
Jewellery Boxes vs. Jewelry Boxes: A different spelling
Jewelry Box Buying Guide: Practical advice on how to make your choice
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