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The Epitome of Gaudy: Gothic Jewelry

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Visigothic Belt Buckle

Gothic JewelryThen-Gothic-Jewelry has and continues to be the epitome of gaudy.  Not only in an ornate, physical sense but it’s historical, cultural and spiritual context as well.

Thus, I truly believe it is extremely important for anyone who does or desires to make, market or purchase unique men’s Gothic jewelry to know its historical origins, cultural and social significance, spiritual connotations.

Because knowledge is power! And it is this same knowledge that TJDV  wishes to share with all!

The Epitome of Gaudy

Gothic Jewelry produced before the Victorian Era or Gothic Revival to its historical medieval Romanesque origin or more specifically, a period roughly highlighted by the end of the Crusades, European Age of Enlightenment, and First Industrial Revolution (~1270 to 1840 A.D.).

Gothic Jewelry produced during the Victorian Era often called the Classic Gothic Revival, focused on romanticism, a new spiritualism, and reverent macabre (~1840 to 1910 A.D.).

In reference to the word Now, I mean that Gothic Jewelry produced post-Victorian Era to present, or more specifically a period highlighted by fantasy and macabre like themes and imagery present in New Gothic Art and Medieval Gothic sub-genres and sub-cultures of today (~1910 A.D. to present).

The Birth of Gothic Jewelry

“Gothic” is a morbid term associated with the antiques Goths and Visigoths of medieval Northern Europe. Indicative of a Celtic motif shrouded in death, fantasy, transmutation, alchemy, terror and the macabre, Gothic jewelry enters the scene roughly 30 years after the Crusades.

By the early fourteenth century, trade between western civilization and eastern cultures once again thrive in the same magnanimous fashion as before the Crusades and the availability precious stones from the East, among other things, is in great supply. Along with new and innovative techniques in gem cutting, goldsmithing becomes a truly defined craft and skilled trade.

Therefore, the Romanesque jewelry of the 12th Century fell to the emerging Gothic jewelry in the late 13th Century. However, it is important to note that the real and inherent change from ‘Romanesque and Gothic’ style occurs in architecture, well before jewelry, as seen by the Gothic use of pointed, ribbed building arches as opposed to the Romanesque rounded ones.

In fact, Gothic jewelry does not make a real break from Romanesque jewelry well into the 15th century.  During this time, Gothic jewelry is primarily worn by the aristocracy and seen as a high rank in social hierarchy and laws were even passed to prevent the use of gemstones in certain jewelry sets.  Cameos were also highly prized and consisted of naturalistic forms of animals, ladies, and lovers.

In terms of men’s fashion, the classic garments and regalia of the 13th century Europe with their high collared necklines and long sleeves gave rise to both fanciful and gaudy belts, brooches, ring brooches, and rings.  More often than not, the brooches and ring brooches were engraved with love and religious epithets.  Belts were mostly leather with highly decorative gold plaques, buckles and belt ends with heraldic and agricultural motifs.  Rings and ring brooches were normally worn on all fingers, sometimes with more than one on a finger.

“By the 1450s the high necked dress made room for a new fashionable dress with a low neck.  This triggered the return of the pendant.  Other jewelry that was worn around the neck was the typical collars worn by the nobles.  Originally made of a fine fabric like silk or velvet and decorated with gold plaques the collar gradually was made out of gold only.  Golden discs or plaques would be attached to form a chain.  Collars were decorated with symbolic designs and often indicated membership to a knight’s order or specific function.  In Europe, the mayor of a town still wears a collar on official occasions (1)“.

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During the “Age of Enlightenment” or “Age of Reason”, Gothic jewelry starts to again resend into the barbarisms ideals, such as feudalism, alchemy, superstition, mystery, and the supernatural. However still, most jewelry is an embodiment of social hierarchy, nobles, and the court.

 

A Romantic Rebirth and Macabre Sentimentalism

The turn of the 19th century marked a profound change in Gothic jewelry style in terms of its social, spiritual and cultural premise. Coined the Victorian Era’s “Gothic Revival”, jewelry becomes a representation of growing spiritualism and romantic fervor, bringing with it the sentiments of the macabre, dark middle ages and Renaissance spirit.Gothic-Jewelry-for-Men

In terms of jewelry, the Victorian Era can be broken down into three epochs: the Romantic Period (1837-1860), the Grand Period (1861-1880) and the Aesthetic Period (1880-1901).

Nevertheless, it is my intention in this section of the article to focus on the Grand Period.  It is at this particular time, I believe really illustrates the ever-alluring macabre, middle-aged and sinister sentiments that influence the Gothic Jewelry we recognize and wear today.

A new spiritualism emerges.  The devotion to and preoccupation memorializing the deceased, especially of loved ones, as seen in daguerreotype photography.

The Grand Period begins after the death of Prince Albert in 1861, where Queen Victoria begins to contract and adorn “mourning jewelry”.  Ideally, this jewelry was and is literally made of up of the physical mementos of loved ones lost and is meant to commemorate their lives by adornment.  These physical mementos include organs and bone (both human and animal), hair, skin, and even real blood.

Gothic Jewelry Now


What we think about Gothic jewelry today or New Gothic Art encompasses those old age sentiments of dark middle ages: macabre, death, mystery, terror, alchemy, and fantasy with the Victorian Era’s romanticism.

This combination of sentiments, termed “dark romanticism”, made popular in the 1980s, symbolizes the Gothic jewelry worn in current Gothic sub-genres like heavy metal, steampunk, post-punk, grunge, biker and occult jewelry.

Why Choose Gothic Jewelry?

In all, Gothic jewelry today is a representation of Gothic society and culture of the 18th and 19th century or “Dark Romanticism”, invokes the romantic sense of alchemy, fantasy, terror, and macabre.  Its allure and mystery has not only endured centuries and spanned continents, but remained a significant influence in jewelry design and fashion to this very day!

So! For those interested in Gothic Jewelry, do not be swayed by the gothic stereotypes that you have to participate or join a particular gothic occult or adhere to a gothic physiognomy, a theory where one’s dark appearance denotes their personal character.  But, just simply be avid jewelry enthusiasts like us at TJDV, who just like the ‘Gothic Look’!

 

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Creative and Innovative Wrist Watches

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the-vacheron-constantin-reference-5726

Hello Fellow Horologists!  The Venue is back again with a feature article that takes a candid, new look at Creative and Innovative Wrist Watches for Men! In fact, when I say ‘Creative and Innovative’, I also mean ‘Abnormal, Abstract, Bizarre, Complex, Outrageous, Eccentric, Exquisite, Extraordinary, Surreal, Unique, Unusual, Way-Out, Wacky, and Weird’And aesthetically speaking, these particular wrist watches are just that! 

So one might ask, what deeming qualities or characteristics make a wrist watch creative and innovative? Its overall appearance?  Obviously.  Or the number of complications and/or features it has?  To a certain degree.

Also, do creative and innovative wrist watches for men include automatic, aviator, chronograph, digital, diver, dress, hybrid, quartz, LED, luxury, mechanical, military, smartwatch, and sports watches as well?  The answer to all three is a resounding YES! 

Nevertheless, because “knowledge is key!”, let us begin with a brief historical synopsis of wrist watches and describe the different types of wrist watches available for men.

 

A Brief History of Wrist Watches

Pomander_Watch_1505

Historically, the first wrist watch made for men is not easy to determine.  Although there were several watchmakers creating time pieces during the 15th Century, the credit for the invention of the wrist watch goes to Peter Heinlein in 1505 with the Pomander Watch in 1505.

Wrist watches made up until the 18th Century were traditionally worn by women and nobility.  As a matter of fact, wrist watches for men, as opposed to the then impractical pocket watches, do not come into play until The Second Boer War (1899-1902) and The First World War (1914-1918) with the overwhelming need for the military to accurately coordinate troops and synchronize battle maneuvers.   

In the post-war era, the utilitarian use of wrist watches with extended features and/or complications for men sparks a vast market.  By the mid 20th Century, wrist watches for men become fashionable and more and more men begin to adorn them as part of their everyday regalia.

 

The Types of Wrist Watches

  • Automatic – An automatic watch, also considered a mechanical watch, is self-winding and uses natural movement to power the watch.

  • Aviator– An aviator or pilot watch is usually over sized with large, easily read dials, a triangle at the 12 o’clock position and ratcheted “onion” crown.

  • Chronograph – Traditionally, a chronograph watch is also a stopwatch with an analog or digital display and an independent sweeping second hand that can be stopped or started on the stem.

  • Digital – A watch that displays electronic numbers for time, rather than hands on a dial (analog).

  • Diver – A diver watch or dive watch is one that is able to resist water pressure at least 100 meters in depth.

  • Dress – A dress watch is a particular timepiece (digital or analog) made to be worn with formal and business attire, typically with long sleeve shirts.

  • Hybrid – A hybrid watch or hybrid smartwatch looks like any traditional or ordinary timepiece, but is able to send you notifications or incorporate other apps like music, fitness trackers, etc.

  • Quartz – A quartz watch is more accurate than an automatic or mechanical watch.  It utilizes a battery to send electricity through a quartz crystal by way of an electric circuit at which point causes the quartz crystal to vibrate at a precise frequency of 32768 times/s.

  • LED – A LED watch is basically a digital watch that uses light emitting pulse nodes to generate light on the display.

  • Luxury – A luxury watch is a very high quality manufactured watch made with fine materials, and sold at an extremely high price.  These watches typically are made by long time reputable watchmakers.

Mechanical – A mechanical watch must be wound up manually and utilizes a mainspring to drive the hands on the mechanism to measure time.

  • Military – A military watch is one that is issued by the military to soldiers for strategic purposes and has no identifying marks such as logos and manufacturing labels.

  • Smartwatch – A smartwatch uses a touch screen to get notifications, receive and send messages, and utilize apps.

  • Sport – A sport watch is rugged with resistances to water damage, scratches, and shock due to physical contact.

 

What Makes A Watch Creative and Innovative?

Without a shadow of a doubt, the first characteristic that makes a wrist watch creative and innovative is its overall design and visual appearance.  Manufactured using the best materials available, these particular watches are unorthodox and unusual, yet sleek and high tech.  They tend to bold and loud with elaborate designs, interesting themes, fantastic colors, and rather odd shapes.

Other characteristics that make a wrist watch creative and innovative are the number of complications and/or features the timepiece (mostly mechanical) possesses.  To horologists, a complication is any additional feature (time related only) of a timepiece that exceeds just displaying hours, minutes, and seconds.   For example, there are alarm, calendar (month, day, and year), chronograph, moon phase, perpetual calendar, repeater, and striking complications.  The wrist watch with the most complications is currently The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 with a total of 57 (see image right).

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What Men Wear Creative and Innovative Wrist Watches?

Since creative and innovative wrist watches encompass automatic, aviator, chronograph, digital, diver, dress, hybrid, quartz, LED, luxury, mechanical, military, smartwatch, and sports watches as well, the answer to this question is All Men Wear Creative and Innovative Wrist Watches!   Athletes, Adventure and Sport Enthusiasts, Divers, Pilots, Entertainers, Technicians, and Yours Truly.  The list goes on and on and on.

In all , men’s fascination with wrist watches has almost grown exponentially after a century.  Whether it’s for function or sophistication or both, it is certainly safe to say that there are at best hundreds of millions of men across the globe wearing these timepieces today and the trend does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

 

Author’s Note

Writing this article has been enlightening and fun.  This said, I would like to dedicate this article to my beloved sister, Jennifer Mae Richardson, who passed on June 7th, 2020.  She was also fun I will miss her dearly.

 

Live yours dreams!  Become a part of Wealthy Affiliate.

Lost, but Not Forgotten Hip Hop Jewelry

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Malcolm-X-Inspired-Jewelry

A Brief Introduction

Completely overshadowed by the current hip-hop bling and ice jewelry craze, exists seemingly lost, but historically reverent and available pieces of Malcolm x inspired hip hop jewelry.  In this particular article, I plan to highlight Malcolm x inspired jewelry by taking a firsthand, historical look at its cultural significance to hip-hop music, myself and the still ever pursuit of changing of the status quo.

 

Born from a Hip Hop Music Generation

By the summer of 1987, there had emerged many politically charged and controversial rap artists and groups, such as Public Enemy and KRS-One, intent on changing the status quo by emphasizing the social inequalities and injustices committed against the African American community by media and government in their lyrics.  One example of this social inequality was the State of Arizona’s inability to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a state holiday.

Likewise, what also emerged at this time was the creation of Malcolm X inspired jewelry.  Why?  It was a symbolic attempt to give the racial problems and issues of today a past civil rights movement meaning.  It represented the desperate need of African Americans to unite and shed themselves of gang violence and drug-related crimes affluent in their communities and negative perceptions attributed to them.

So what is Malcolm X inspired jewelry exactly?  They are jewelry pieces (i.e. bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, brooches, cuff links, tie clips, etc.) comprised of either single or multiple images with the likenesses of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and other civil rights activists or engraved words, phrases and symbols indicative of the civil rights movement.

Characteristically, they can be highly ornate, decorated pieces or plain, simple ones.  They were available then and still can be purchased today.  Current rap artists, like Nipsey Hustle, adorn Malcolm x inspired hip hop jewelry and regalia on a regular basis.

 

A Moment in Time…

Born and raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, my father was a brazen, compassionate, proud African-American man with a matter of fact and witty personality. Though educated, he chose a career of shining shoes because it encompassed his passion for people. He spent a lifetime in this pursuit and succeeded. He was also an outstanding actor who frequently appeared in local theater productions, like “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Of Mice and Men“.  And also had a bit role in the movie, “Home Of the Brave“, partially filmed in Spokane, WA.

As a teenager in the summer of 1987, I reDriving Miss Daisy feat Clarence Forechmember sitting at my father’s shine stand, clad in my Malcolm x inspired regalia (a Malcolm X hat, shirt, shorts and handmade leather African medallion necklace) and listening to the many conversations with customers concerning civil rights.  He would exclaim, “I am happy for Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Because if it were not for them, Negroes would have gone completely crazy.”

Now, this was a profound statement coming from a man who not only witnessed the rampant, blatant racism and hatred encompassed by the civil rights era and the south but fell victim to it as well.  You see his eventual migration and relocation to Spokane, WA was an intensely brutal one.

Just a teenager himself, my father had all of his fingers and toes broken by local KKK members and while unconscious, placed in a train car that finally ended up in Colfax, WA.  It was in Colfax, WA. where a family discovered him and cared for his injuries.  They sent for my grandmother, who along with her new husband, came and eventually settled in Spokane.  He made a miraculous recovery and went on to graduate from Lewis and Clark High School with a varsity letter in wrestling and academics in 1961.

The rest is history.  But this statement I will openly and boldly offer:  Not ever! did he let what happened, either discourage him or propel him to racial hatred!  Not once!  Thus, I am proud to say he was my father and I miss him dearly, for he passed away on May 30, 2012.

 

A Statistical Fact:

The overall impact the criminal justice system, spurred by past and present racial bias and discrimination, has had on the lives of African Americans and African American community as a whole is well-established and documented. Blacks make up 13 percent of the population but represent 50 percent of the nation’s prison population.  In Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., more than 50 percent of the Black male population is under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system. Black men are 6 percent of the population but are more than 40 percent of those on death row (1).

Black youngsters are dealt with no more sympathetically.  A report compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice showed that Black and Latino youth are treated much more harshly in the juvenile justice system than their white peers.  Among first-time youth offenders, African Americans are six times more likely than whites to be sentenced to prison by juvenile courts.  For drug offenses, Black youth are 48 times more likely than whites to be sent to prison (2). Currently, while there are 603,000 Blacks enrolled in institutions of higher education, there are 757,000 who are locked up in federal and state prisons. Moreover, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics projects that 30 percent of Black boys who turn 12 this year will spend time in jail in their lifetime if current incarceration rates stay constant (3).

 

A Brief Conclusion

To deny that racism and the degradation of the African-American community do not still exist would be complete heresy. Although the perception of African-Americans is slowly changing, ongoing police brutality and systematic, bureaucratic racial prejudice against African-Americans still remains a staple in the United States.  And so, Malcolm x inspired hip hop jewelry continues to be a symbolic proponent in the fight against racial hatred and prejudice.