Finding an antique necklace

There are some things which stick in your mind, no matter how young you were when they occurred. Here is one of mine.

We moved into a new house in Harborne (Birmingham) when I was about 4 years old. In the gigantic (as I remember it) garden, there was a small brick construction which over the years became the H.Q of the various clubs we founded. One day I was “tidying it up” ready for a meeting of the Animal Rights Club, one of the many societies my sister and I formed. I moved a few dusty old boxes aside, expecting a massive spider to leap out, which the previous owners or perhaps the owners before then must have left behind. Hidden underneath was the below necklace.

Convinced I had found a priceless artefact, I skipped excitedly with my bit of treasure into the house to show my mother. I apparently said I had found some “Roman jewellery” to her.  I expect she laughed a lot! Perhaps I had seen something on Blue Peter about the Romans, not sure. Nevertheless, I have had this gorgeous antique necklace ever since. Part of its attraction to me is the fact that it’s a pre-loved bit of jewellery which I discovered entirely unexpectedly as a child. It carries a sense of history I will never know.

The stones are made from paste so it’s a typical piece of costume jewellery. Just about any kind of imitation gem can be made from what is known as paste – a compound of glass containing white lead oxide and potash. People began to fake gem stones using paste (glass) as early as 1670 when it grew in popularity for courtesans. The glass is then cut into gem like shapes and hey presto, you have a gorgeous fake gem bit of jewellery. I don’t know when this necklace dates from but it has a classic vintage Butler & Wilson feel about it which I love. It certainly doesn’t sparkle like a sapphire and diamond necklace but it does look beautiful. A pretty good find for a child I reckon.

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