Monday, May 28, 2012

Miriam Haskell Bracelet Update: Russian Gold Plate Flower Filigree Identification

I’m busy sorting through our recent purchase of metal findings from the Miriam Haskell warehouse, see my blog post here.

And guess what? I found some of the same filigrees that are used in a Miriam Haskell pearl bracelet I am fortunate to own. See my bracelet blog post here.

Here are the filigrees together with the bracelet filigree… We have a match! 

In this bracelet, the Haskell oval plaque is soldered to one filigree. There is a second filigree on the back, both held together with jump rings, right before the clasp.

Both my bracelet filigree and the Haskell warehouse filigrees are plated with Russian gold plate, a type of 24K gold plating used in vintage Haskell pieces. The bracelet filigree and the warehouse filigrees are dramatically different in color, showing how this type of plating can age over time.  For more, see my blog post about Russian gold plate here 

We now offer new antiqued brass tiny flower bead caps just like those in my bracelet…

And we also carry various vintage Miriam Haskell glass pearls, also originally purchased at the Miriam Haskell Company warehouse.

I’ll keep researching our Miriam Haskell findings to see if I can discover examples of how they were used, I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What is Miriam Haskell Russian Gold Plate?

Russian gold plate, sometimes referred to as RGP,  is that famous rich looking gold plating used extensively by the Miriam Haskell Company in their vintage jewelry pieces as part of their signature look.  My resource for all the following information is the book Miriam Haskell Jewelry by Cathy Gordon and Sheila Pamfiloff, an essential resource for learning about Miriam Haskell jewelry.

Gordon and Pamfiloff say: “…stamped filigrees. They were purchased from suppliers in France and Rhode Island…and sent to Unida Plating of Providence, Rhode Island, which used a process invented by James Brady for coating the metal parts. Parts went through six to seven preparatory steps and then the special dipping process, which created the Russian gold look. The dipping solution contained 24-karat gold, among other (secret) ingredients. It was made by hand with the formula kept locked in a safe, known only to the company manager and his foreman. The process was primitive, according to Sandy Moss, with the dipping timed by hand. As more and more filigrees were dipped in the solution, gold content got lower and lower, causing variations in the coating depth and color on the filigrees…After dipping, filigrees were lacquered.” (page 45).

Because the plating was “primitive”, Haskell Russian gold plate can take a variety of hues.  Also, the plating was done over brass filigrees and other brass findings. Since the plating was thicker or thinner depending on when in the batch the metal was plated, durability and patina can vary over time, as shown above.

While Russian gold plate is what many people think of when they think of vintage Miriam Haskell pieces, the Haskell Company also used other finishes in their vintage designs, including light silver (see the silver leaf charms above), rhodium-look silver and Russian silver, a dark antique silver.  Some designs were also made using black metal parts (Gordon and Pamfiloff, page 45).  Contemporary Haskell designs include gold, light silver, antique silver, imitation rhodium, pot black and oxidized gold, silver and copper colors (Gordon and Pamfiloff, page 45).  Today, Russian gold plating ala Miriam Haskell is no longer available, although you can find companies that attempt to recreate this effect.

So, it is with great excitement we are able to offer vintage RGP filigrees and other components from the Miriam Haskell warehouse.  The photographs through this post show just a few of the items we have been able to purchase for Bumbershoot Supplies. See this post for more details about our exciting find.

To see many examples of beautiful vintage Miriam Haskell designs, you can visit the authors of Miriam Haskell Jewelry: Cathy Gordon is here. Sheila Pamfiloff is here.

Vintage Miriam Haskell Filigrees, Stampings and More at Bumbershoot Supplies

We are very excited to have recently purchased a large lot of vintage Miriam Haskell stampings, filigree and other metal components. We will be adding this stock to Bumbershoot Supplies and Bumbershoot Supplies on Etsy over the coming days.

This blog post is a sneak preview of some of the fabulous vintage metals to come.

We have filigrees…


Charms and more.

Some items are in raw brass. 

Others are finished with that plated finish that Haskell made famous, Russian gold plate. To learn more about Russian gold plate, see my blog post here.

There are even a few items in silver.
 If you have been reading this blog or the Bumbershoot Designs and Supplies newsletters, you know authenticity and provenance of our supplies is important to us. How do we know this is Miriam Haskell stock?  Decades ago our supplier, who had a friend who worked at Miriam Haskell, was invited to purchase stock at the Miriam Haskell Company’s warehouse.  Fast forward to the present, and now our supplier was ready to pass it on.  So it’s a pretty short and direct journey from the Miriam Haskell warehouse to you! I hope you will enjoy watching as these new vintage treasures arrive at Bumbershoot Supplies. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

New Vintage Style Antiqued Brass at Bumbershoot Supplies: Connectors and Bead Caps and Drops, Oh My!

I’m delighted to announce we are expanding the antiqued brass findings we offer at Bumbershoot Supplies. Watch us over the next few months as we grow this line of components, and see the new items already in stock here at Bumbershoot Supplies.

I am excited about these antiqued brass findings for so many reasons, and especially because they are made in the USA. Why do I care about that? 

Well, there are 3 main reasons:
These brass pieces are made and plated by family-owned companies that have been around forever. They know their business. They use the same original tooling to make these findings as they have used for decades. The precision and attention to detail, it’s all there.  There is an authenticity to these findings that simply cannot be matched.  There’s a reason these businesses have been the center of the costume jewelry industry for so long.

Second, the quality of the yellow brass starting material is unsurpassed. Consistently using a high quality yellow brass yields a consistently beautiful antiqued brass product. Also important to me is that these findings are substantial. These are not the light weight brass findings that are now commonly available, these are thicker, weightier and quite durable over time. Side by side, the US-made wins, hands down. Whatever you choose to do with them, these findings will impart a luxurious look and feel to your designs.

Finally, we are confident that these findings are indeed nickel and lead free and are manufactured to the highest standards in that regard.  We have them specially coated with a non toxic jewelry grade lacquer, to impart shine and to protect the antiqued brass finish, so you can expect your designs to last.

I’m so happy with these new components, I’m practically jumping up and down! I am loving using them in my designs and I know you will too!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Flowers at Bumbershoot Supplies. Petite Brass and Enamel Flowers Back in Stock

Great news! We are thrilled to be able to once again offer several versions of the beloved tiny brass and enamel flowers we have carried in the past.

Truly we did not think we would see these again, but our supplier has made the last of their stock available to us so we can once again provide them to you.

All you see here, back in stock at Bumbershoot Supplies and Bumbershoot Supplies on Etsy.

Have you been over to Bumbershoot Supplies for a visit lately?
We've been busy - more than 90 new and 32 restocked items in the last 2 weeks (we stopped counting...)!

Come on over and see all the new vintage lovelies!