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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.

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Hair pin

A pin with one or two blunt points for fastening or decorating the hair. There are two basic types: one-point pins and two-points pins.

One-point hair pins

Such pins have a single attenuated stem, straight or slightly irregularly bent, having a dull point at one end and a knob or other ornament at the top end. Some early Greek and Romano-British pins, and some from China, c. 13th/15th centuries, have elaborate heads, sometimes in the form of a human bust, flower, animal or figure. Those of the Etruscans and Romans were sometimes very long, ornately decorated with motifs of fruit. Anglo-Saxon examples often had a bird motif and were set with garnets. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were elaborately decorated, some with gemstones and some with ornaments that were made so as to vibrate.

Somewhat different are those made in Japan and elsewhere in the Orient that are very long, without head ornament, and worn with the ends projecting for some distance from oppossite sides of the hair.

Two-points hair pins

Such pins are U-shaped, sharply bent at the head so that the two shanks extend parallel and equally. They also were made in ancient times; some, from China, 3rd/8th centuries, and from Korea, 12th/14th centuries, have thin shanks, others have thick and bulging shanks, but later examples from both countries are delicately made and elaborately ornamented.

Many such pins of both types have been made of gold and silver. Modern Western pins are of the two-point type and are generally prosaic, being usually made of cheap material and without ornementation.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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