I haven’t written about Australian antique jewellery for a bit so I thought I would show you some additions. The four pieces below all have a series of Australian hallmarks which operated only for a limited time but which enable dating of them. Australian jewellers did not have to comply with the British Hallmarking Acts and so most Australian-produced jewellery was not marked until 1889 when the Manufacturing Jewellers Association of Victoria was founded, eventually spreading to rest of the Commonwealth. The Association members applied three guarantees to their work, the maker’s mark, a quality mark in carats, and a symbol (a sheaf of wheat represented 9ct, for example) guaranteeing the quality of material and workmanship. The 15ct symbol was a hung sheep and the 18ct symbol was a sailing ship. The Association ceased around the early 1920s. There have been other attempts by state and national associations to introduce hallmarks but none successfully enough to establish a more recognisable Australian hallmark than the Victorian ones mentioned above.
The first piece of jewellery, which is the feature image at the top of the post, is a delightful little frog shaped brooch. It has ruby eyes and its body is set with seed pearls, with a line of turquoise beads along the back. It is made of 15ct gold, with Australian hallmarks (a maker’s mark, a quality mark and a hung sheep) and was made by Duggin, Shappere, & Co, Melbourne jewellers.
The second piece is a pretty little antique Australian brooch comprising a porcelain plaque with a painting of a kookaburra sitting on the branch of a gum or wattle tree. The painting is set in a gold frame with Australian hallmarks for 9ct rose gold. The hallmarks show the maker’s mark, a knotted rope, for Lawrence Pty Ltd of Melbourne, 9ct, and a wheat sheaf quality mark. These brooches were popular from around 1900 to 1920, after Australia became a nation in 1901.
The Kookaburra is native to Australia and New Guinea. In Australia, it has two species, the Laughing Kookaburra and the Blue-winged Kookaburra. Leading up to and just after the time the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, jewellers began to produce patriotic and relatively inexpensive jewellery. Brooches with gold kookaburras set with seed pearls were common as were handpainted kooraburras on brooches, and then small gold kookaburra charms. The brooch below shows a Laughing Kookaburra as it only has a touch of blue on its wings
Next is a lovely antique Australian 15ct gold pendant with a large central malachite stone, set within a rope border. It has a fixed bale and a rose gold jump ring. It has Australian hallmarks. The pendant was made by L H Suhard & Co, manufacturing jewellers from Adelaide. It is stamped 15ct and has the maker’s mark. It dates from around 1908.
The last piece is a romantic brooch, sometimes described as a true love brooch. It has two entwined hearts in the centre, with a crescent shape running through them. On top is a bow which ties the two hearts together. The brooch is set with gorgeous little seed pearls. Two hearts symbolize everlasting love or two hearts beating as one.
The brooch has Australian hallmarks for 15ct gold, and was made by Duggin, Shappere & Co from Melbourne. It has a gold safety chain and pin.