Finding vintage pieces is always a treasure hunt; the element of surprise keeps it exciting. But after the thrill the hunt comes the research, which is slower, more methodical and, in some ways, more satisfying.
Let’s research a piece together.
Here is this this unusual silver and turquoise necklace I recently acquired along with some Native American pieces:
It does not have the look or feel of any Native American or Mexican jewelry I’ve ever had; it has more of a rustic-meets-Art Nouveau aesthetic.
The hallmark on the reverse side is worn but still readable:
I took a deep dive into Google and found references to The Rokesley Shop, a metalworking design cooperative that operated in Cleveland from 1904 to 1912. Rokesley designers were fine artists who were part of the Arts and Crafts movement, a trend that flourished between 1880 and 1920. It’s proponents stood for a return to traditional craftsmanship as a reaction against industrialization. Sounds a little like the modern era with the current desire for craft beer, handmade soap and other products that feel less industrial.
Another mystery: why is this necklace so long?
Here’s the deal: an extremely long necklace is called a sautoir (“soo-twa”) from the French word for jumprope. Soutoirs that fall almost to the hips used to be worn only by royalty. In the early 20th century, these lengthy pieces began to be worn by fashionable ladies. They reached the height of fashion in the flapper era of the 1920s. It was worn full length, not double wrapped, which I imagine would cause it to swing wildly when dancing.