Editors

These Jewels Give Me the Creeps

EditorsOct 27, 2022

These Jewels Give Me the Creeps

Ahead of Halloween, Associate Editor Lenore Fedow went in search of the spookiest antique and vintage jewelry.

20221027_1-Creepy Jewelry.jpg
These vintage earrings from Trademark Antiques are one of several spooky jewels in Associate Editor Lenore Fedow’s Halloween roundup.
The allure of the macabre has always enchanted me.

Perhaps it was set in stone when, once upon a midnight dreary, my parents named me Lenore, a callback to the dearly departed love interest in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”

(I actually was named after my maternal grandmother, and I was born in the morning, but let me have this!)

It’s my yearly tradition at National Jeweler to put together a fun, spooky Halloween story.

I’ve written about gemstone legends and cursed jewels, but, this year, I went (virtually) digging through some antique and vintage jewels.

I reached out to several antique jewelry experts and asked them to show me the creepiest jewels they had in their cases, and, wow, did they deliver.

Trademark Antiques

We’re going to start off with those nightmare earrings in the header image.

I saw these scrolling through Instagram, and they stopped me in my tracks. The cold diamond eyes and that creepy head tilt? Horrifying!

I reached out to Jessica Sitko of Trademark Antiques to learn more about these earrings.

These mismatched vintage children earrings are solid 14-karat gold with diamond eyes and ruby buttons, circa 1980 to 1990.

Their arms and legs move, which only enhances the creep factor.

Someone better solder those limbs together before they jump out of your jewelry box at night and start wandering around unsupervised.

When I asked Sitko if she had anything else spooky, she most certainly did.

20221027_2-Creepy Jewelry.jpg
An antique diamond and ruby clown in silver and 18-karat gold with French hallmarks, circa 1800 to 1830

Take a look at this horror show!

It’s an antique diamond and ruby clown in silver and 18-karat gold with French hallmarks, circa 1800 to 1830.

What’s that in his hand, you ask? That’s a dagger, my friend.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I do not like clowns. It’s a common fear, I know, but I just can’t stand to look at them.

I thought this was a fear that emerged in the public consciousness after Stephen King’s “It,” so I was surprised that a pin dating back to the 1800s would depict such a scary clown.

“I believe this clown to be a representation of Pierrot—a sad, dark pantomime who often wore a clown hat and ruffles,” explained Sitko.

“In the early 1800s, Pierrot was played by [mime artist] Jean-Gaspard Deburau, and the character sometimes brandished a knife. In the mid-1800s, Deburau killed a boy with a blow from his cane after the boy taunted him and thus, the killer clown concept was born.”

Whoever buys this nightmare pin should sleep with one eye open. And a baseball bat.

Windsor Jewelers

Dora Maddux of Windsor Jewelers also dug through her jewels to pick out something spooky.

20221027_3-Creepy Jewelry.jpg
A 14-karat gold and onyx Victorian cameo necklace, courtesy of Windsor Jewelers

I love cameo jewelry. My first piece of antique jewelry was a cameo ring. But something about this piece did not sit right with me.

It may have to do with the ghostly glow of the cameo, an ethereal woman in white against a dark onyx backdrop.

It’s a 14-karat gold necklace from the Victorian era, an inherently creepy time period that saw the rise of the ghost story.

I’m not an antique jewelry expert by any means, nor do I specialize in the Victorian era, but there seems to be so much going on with this necklace, from the starry beads to the dangling charms.

It strikes me as an amulet, and I both love it and hate it!

20221027_4-Creepy Jewelry.jpg
Don’t look directly into this snake’s ruby eyes.

Maddux also showed off this serpent necklace, topped with glaring ruby eyes.

Circa the 1800s, this necklace is set in 18-karat yellow gold with diamonds, rubies, and black enamel.

Both of Maddux’s picks take something I love, cameos and snake jewelry, and twist them into something fantastically scary.

Maybe it’s just the masterful enamel work bringing life to the piece, but the snake almost looks as if he could slither right up your neck and choke you.

 Related stories will be right here … 

Zanathia Jewelry

Tanzy Ward of Zanathia Jewelry is not only an antiques jeweler but also a jewelry historian.

A member of the American Society of Jewelry Historians, she’s literally written the book(s) on antique jewelry, including “Hidden Legacies: African Presence in European Antiques,” and “Unsung Portraits: Anonymous Images of Black Victorians and Early 20th Century Ancestors.”

So, when I asked Ward for spooky or creepy Halloween-themed jewels, she knew just what to send over.

She also showed me something I had never seen before—a Black woman represented in Victorian era jewelry.

“Photographic jewelry and hairwork adornments that belonged to Black Victorians are rare and curating a substantial number of these precious antiques can be more complex,” explained Ward in an Instagram post.

“I am honored and thankful to preserve and collect historically significant artifacts belonging to our Black ancestors. Each item, a treasured heirloom, has a sentimental story that deserves to be honored & remembered.”

This is a mourning stickpin set with a photo of an unidentified Victorian era woman. She has a small smile spreading across her lips, uncommon for photos of the era.

I’m always torn when it comes to mourning jewelry. 

On the one hand, having lost my mother, I can understand a grief that grips you so tightly it needs to be expressed. It’s touching to carry a photo of your lost loved one around with you, like on a stickpin.

But on the other hand, it just creeps me out. There’s also the added spookiness of a Victorian era photo, frozen in time and sepia.

Ward also shared a set of Victorian era mourning jewelry, including a French jet bracelet and beaded necklace, and a Vauxhall glass brooch.

Vauxhall glass was first created in the Vauxhall Glassworks in London and was used as a gemstone substitute.

The funny thing is that if I didn’t know they were mourning jewelry, I might think they were fun fashion pieces.

But that mourning aspect sinks in the more you look at them, and there’s something unsettling about all the grief embedded into these jewels.

K.I.L. NYC

Konstantinos Leoussis of KIL N.Y.C. is both a jewelry designer and an antiques collector, traveling the world to bring back the coolest pieces he can find.

I’ve looked through his jewelry treasures before at a trade show, so I knew he’d have something perfect for this story.

This is a late 1700s pendant in 10-karat gold, a great example of mourning jewelry.

Inside is a watercolor and sepia painted scene of a man and woman with a neoclassical urn made of enamel, gold wire, and pearls.

Behind them is a weeping willow and a cherub, and above that, a banner that reads, “Tho lost to sight to memory dear.” It’s a lovely sentiment.

But, can you see that dirt on the very bottom? It’s made of human hair.

There is something about jewelry with hair that creeps me out immensely. Maybe it’s not weird if it’s the hair of someone you love, but the thought of donning a dead person’s locks is too much for me.

Now, if there’s one thing creepier than mourning jewelry, it’s memento mori jewelry.

Mourning jewelry commemorates the life of an individual while memento mori jewelry, literally “remember death,” is an ever present reminder that the Grim Reaper is coming for us.

It’s slightly cheerier than mourning jewelry in that it serves as a reminder to live life to the fullest, but I prefer a “seize the day” greeting over “remember death.”

This piece is a late 1600s Stuart era crystal slide with an enamel skull, crown, and cherubs, sitting atop a lock of woven hair.

Is it a wonder that this piece is still around 300-plus years later and intact? Of course it is. But that only makes it creepier!

You know what keeps something together that long? Black magic, I say!

These are both beautiful pieces that will, if they haven’t already, find wonderful homes. But not my home.

Happy Halloween!

Fall is the best time of year and Halloween, hands down my favorite holiday, is the cherry on top.

I look forward to writing a spooky story for you every Halloween, and I’ve noticed that each story has a running theme throughout it.

Whether I’m writing about famous cursed jewels or spooky antique pieces, the thread that ties them together is the idea that jewelry can hold onto energy.

I’m a believer in the superstitious and the supernatural, but even if you’re not, it makes sense that jewelry can hold emotion. 

We all have jewels that bring a smile to our face or pieces that tug at our heart, reminding us of a dearly departed loved one.

Some of the jewels I featured, like the child earrings, are aesthetically creepy, but most of the pieces are spooky for hard-to-pinpoint reasons. They just have a bad vibe, whether that’s spooky or sad. 

What amazes me most is the longevity of these pieces. 

I joked that black magic kept these jewels intact for hundreds of years, but it’s the longstanding love of jewelry that makes us treasure jewels, even the spooky ones, and pass them down from generation to generation.

That being said, if you look up and see that clown stickpin, RUN.

The Latest

Swarovski New York City flagship
IndependentsMay 21, 2024
State of Retail: 4 Retail Design Trends for 2024

From lighter color palettes to the integration of AR, experts offer inspiration for jewelers in need of an aesthetic refresh.

Dame Shirley Bassey’s
AuctionsMay 21, 2024
Dame Shirley Bassey’s Diamonds Are Ready for Their Encore

Sotheby’s will auction jewelry belonging to the “Diamonds Are Forever” singer in Paris this October.

National Jeweler columnist Sherry Smith
ColumnistsMay 21, 2024
Successful Vendor Relationships: A Win-Win Approach

Sherry Smith shares tips for fostering successful vendor-retailer partnerships, from marketing investment to fast-seller replenishment.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Jennifer Herold, Independent Jewelers Organization vice president
IndependentsMay 21, 2024
Jennifer Herold Promoted to VP at IJO

Herold has been with the organization for 22 years and will continue in her current role of conference director.

Weekly QuizMay 16, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these seven questions.
Take the Quiz
Studs pop-up
MajorsMay 20, 2024
Studs Opens Luxury Piercing Pop-Up in NYC

“Fancy Studs” will feature revamped branding and a new lab-grown diamond fine jewelry collection.

Nivoda executive team at table
SourcingMay 20, 2024
2 Business-to-Business Platforms Secure Millions in Funding

Nivoda and Liquid Diamonds both have big plans for the new capital.

Royal Chain gold chains
Brought to you by
Record Gold Prices Have Consumers Undeterred. Here’s Why.

Despite the rising prices, consumers continue to seek out the precious metal.

Stuller Packaging & Displays 2024-2025 catalog
MajorsMay 20, 2024
Stuller Issues New Packaging & Display Catalog

The 2024-2025 edition features new colors and styles, as well as storytelling elements.

Elephants wading in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
SourcingMay 20, 2024
State of the Diamond Industry: Botswana Beyond Diamonds

From moringa to ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, the country and its leaders are exploring how Botswana can diversify its economy.

Rough diamonds from De Beers
SourcingMay 20, 2024
Anglo American Confirms It Is Looking to Sell De Beers

The mining giant also wants to offload its platinum business as part of an overhaul designed to “unlock significant value.”

Buccellati jewelry
FinancialsMay 17, 2024
Richemont Appoints Van Cleef & Arpels’ Nicolas Bos as New CEO

The announcement coincided with its full-year results, with growth driven by its jewelry brands.

Watches of Switzerland Mall of America store
FinancialsMay 17, 2024
Watches of Switzerland’s Fiscal-Year Sales Flat

Looking ahead, the retailer said it sees “enormous potential” in Roberto Coin’s ability to boost its branded jewelry business.

My Next Question webinar series graphic
Recorded WebinarsMay 17, 2024
Watch: Preparing for Trade Show Success

Jewelry trade show veterans share strategies for engaging buyers, managing your time effectively, and packing the right shoes.

Cartier ring-tailed lemur brooch circa 1991
AuctionsMay 17, 2024
Piece of the Week: Cartier’s Ring-Tailed Lemur

This little guy’s name is Ricky and he just sold for more than $200,000 at Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry auction.

202.18 carat fancy intense yellow diamond The Yellow Rose
AuctionsMay 16, 2024
Christie’s Holds 2 Sales Despite Cyberattack

Though its website has been down for a week, Christie’s proceeded with its jewelry and watch auctions on May 13-14, bringing in nearly $80 million.

The Allnatt yellow diamond
AuctionsMay 16, 2024
Sotheby’s Withdraws 101-Carat Yellow Diamond from Auction

Despite the absence of “The Allnatt,” Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry auction totaled $34 million, with 90 percent of lots sold.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
ColumnistsMay 16, 2024
The PR Adviser: What the Designer Should’ve Done

Lilian Raji gives advice to designers on how to make the most of great publicity opportunities.

Mothae Diamond Mine Lesotho
SourcingMay 16, 2024
Lucapa to Shed Stake in Lesotho Diamond Mine

The mining company wants to divest its 70 percent holding in the Mothae Diamond Mine in an effort to streamline its portfolio.

National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith
ColumnistsMay 15, 2024
Squirrel Spotting: Why Retailers Struggle to Fire Brands

Why do so many jewelers keep lines that are not selling? Peter Smith thinks the answer lies in these two behavioral principles.

The Argyle Phoenix red diamond
AuctionsMay 15, 2024
Red Diamond Breaks Records at Phillips Geneva

The “Argyle Phoenix” sold for more than $4 million at the auction house’s second jewels sale.

Jewelers of America 20 Under 40 2024 recipients
Events & AwardsMay 15, 2024
See Who’s in JA’s 2024 ‘20 Under 40’ Class

The annual list recognizes young professionals making an impact in jewelry retail.

David Mann jewelry store
IndependentsMay 15, 2024
David Mann Jewelers in Upstate NY to Close After 35 Years

Owner David Mann is heading into retirement.

Brilliant Earth Logan Hollowell jewelry collection
FinancialsMay 15, 2024
Brilliant Earth’s Sales Fall Flat in Q1

While overall sales were sluggish, the retailer said its non-bridal fine jewelry was a popular choice for Valentine’s Day.

The Yellow Rose and the Allnatt yellow diamonds
AuctionsMay 14, 2024
2 Huge Yellow Diamonds Are Heading to Auction

Christie's is selling one of the diamonds, moving forward with its Geneva jewelry auction despite the cyberattack that took down its website.

Born Leaders Platinum Born campaign
MajorsMay 14, 2024
Platinum Born Taps ‘Born Leaders’ for New Campaign

The ad aims to position platinum jewelry as ideal for everyday wear.

Instappraise Trifold Brochure
GradingMay 14, 2024
Instappraise Adds Trifold Brochure to Appraisal Offerings

Retailers can customize and print the appraisal brochures from their store.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy