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Article: Early Australian Jewellery: A Step Back In Time

Early Australian Jewellery: A Step Back In Time

Running a jewellery business is a risky business for collectors like us… we are constantly uncovering ‘must have’, ‘cant live without ‘ pieces… you know the ones that really speak to you and before you know it you are swiping that credit card or ‘adding to cart’. This is particularly true for our latest passion, early Australian jewellery, an area that is becoming increasingly popular among serious collectors and jewellery dealers due to its rarity and increasing value.

But first, some background...

Antique Australian ’Stevenson’ 9ct Yellow Gold Cameo Brooch Circa 1910 (Available)
The gold rush era laid the foundation for Australian jewellery. The rush began after the discovery of gold near Bathurst in NSW in 1851 and later Ballart and Buninyong in Victoria. The availability of gold coupled with the growing wealth and population expansion especially in Melbourne lead to the introduction of luxury jewellery stores in burgeoning Elizabeth and Collins Street in Melbourne city, providing middle and upper class clients with distinctly Australian pieces.

Australia’s unique flora and fauna became a distinguishing feature of early Australian craftsmanship combined with styles and designs uniquely European. The use of uniquely Australian gemstones such as Opals and Quartz were a popular choice, so to was using distinctively Australian symbols such as the Southern Cross or maps of Australian or Tasmania. Miner’s brooches depicting a pick, shovel and bucket are now highly sought after; I recently watched one go at auction for over $2000 AUD!!

Collectors first... dealers second!

Edwardian 9ct Rose Gold Pearl Ring By Joseph Lawrence Melbourne Circa 1915 (SOLD)
In our travels, we have been lucky enough to uncover a broad range of beautiful Australian jewels by notable early Australian jewellers such as Willis and Son (Melbourne), Robert Rollason (Sydney), Melbourne firm Duggin, Shappere and Co. and an absolute stunning Natural Amethyst & Seed Pearl Lavaliere by Joseph Lawrence!

Most recently, we were lucky to come across quite a rare Art Deco Sterling Silver locket by F.J Mole (subsequently F.J.Mole & Company) a native of Birmingham who became a leading manufacturer of sterling silver in Queensland.
Other prominent jewellers include Frederick Aronson (Woollhara Sydney), J.M Wendt (Adelaide), Taylor and Sharpe (Hobart), Hardy Brothers and Robert Robertson (Melbourne) to name a few! We recently acquired the holy grail of jewellery books; Australian Jewellery 19th and early 20th century (Anne Schofield) which has become our go to for research and to day dream over amazing jewellery.

How to identify Australian Jewellery Makers

When it came to identifying Australian jewellery, makers developed their own mark or ‘symbol’ to distinguish them from other jewellers. For example, Willis and Sons used a unicorn head, Duggin, Shappere and Co an anchor and J.Lawrence a knot.

The best part of our job is researching these marks and the excitement that follows uncovering a piece! One of our most prized pieces was the magnificent Natural Amethyst & Seed Pearl Lavaliere by Joseph Lawrence. Handcrafted of course, this impressive necklace featured two of the largest Amethysts we have seen in a Lavaliere claw set securely in a simple and refined open style setting. From the central Amethyst was a suspended knife-edge bar with two dainty foliate panels both set with tiny seed pearls to the second large pearl shaped Amethyst. Hallmarked to the rear of the central Amethyst was the famous ‘knot’, ‘9’and ‘L’ once again for J Lawrence. I am confident that we will not see quite an impressive Lavaliere especially by an early Australian jewellery again but we live in hope!

Magnificent Antique Circa 1910 Natural Amethyst / Seed Pearl 9ct Gold Lavaliere by Joseph Lawrence (SOLD)


 Australian Jewellery Collection

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Exceptional Antique 9ct Mizpah Seed Pearl Garnet Doublet Pendant Circa 1900 (Available)


            Exquisite Antique 9ct Rose Gold Garnet Seed Pearl Heart Pendant Circa 1905 (Available)

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