American Dream

Filigree bracelet with diamonds in white gold, USA circa 1925

Jewellery in elegant, cool and noble white - that has been the dream of jewellery designers since the late 19th century. But the technical possibilities put a stop to this dream for some time. White diamonds were available, but the tricky issue was finding the right metal. Initially, silver was used as the metal for setting the precious stones, but silver tarnishes and loses its white luster - around the turn of the century, platinum was used. The patent for white gold was not registered until 1913 by Karl Richter in Pforzheim. In the USA, however, it was David Belais who was working on an alloy for white gold at about the same time. He had this patented in 1918 - and so the present bracelet from the USA cannot be dated earlier. In fact, the bracelet is a very early example of American white gold jewellery and displays the fine formal language of American Art Deco. It is typical that the individual elements of the bracelet are not solid but openworked like lace. This creates a particularly light, filigree impression. The theme of the precious white is taken up by seven large old-cut diamonds that together weigh in at around 1.89 carats. At least some of the diamonds, according to their cuts, are older than the bracelet itself and probably originate from jewellery of the 19th century. This was quite common at the time, as tastes had changed radically after the First World War. Large, beautiful diamonds were set from pieces that had become unfashionable and found their way into ultra-modern new jewels. Indeed, some jewelers even advertised this practice, such as Daniel Low of Salem, Massachussets, who devoted a page to it in a 1917 catalog (see last illustration). The bracelet is beautifully preserved and tells a story beyond its own age through its reused gemstones. A wonderful and very wearable jewellery from the years of the Great Gatsby!

The name Belais is associated with one thing above all else in the United States: White gold. For under David Belais, who founded the company in 1863, experiments were conducted for many years with gold alloys that would combine the white color of platinum with the advantages of gold. When Belais registered his patent in 1918, however, the German Karl Richter from Pforzheim, who had registered his own, somewhat different patent for white gold in 1913, was already ahead of him. Due to the World War, however, Richter's invention was hardly used for the time being, and so it was finally the name Belais, at least in the USA, that became synonymous with high-carat white gold.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


OUR PROMISE

We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.

Play