With “R” for “Reliquary”

A reliquary is a small box or recipient commonly used in the past to wear hanging from the neck. The very first use was entirely religious as a case to keep relics that once belonged to saints.

Withing Christianity a reliquary is the remains of a sanctified person and by extension a relic is a memory that belonged to them or to those who met the saint and reliquary is then the tiny recipient where it was kept.


There’s evidence of reliquaries already back in the 4th century. It was found in the Treasure of Monza, a gift that Saint Gregorio gave to the queen Teodolina.

Among that treasure there are several tiny bottles very common back in the time that only had cotton wet with blessed oil or that one inside the lamps close to the tomb of a martyr.

However, over the years the use was growing in popularity and the little reliquaries started containing the remains of a close familiar. When this happened people commonly kept hairs belonging to a loved one and the name evolved to “locket”, a piece which definition you can find here.



With “C” for “Collar” (Necklace)

With “C” for “Collar” (Necklace)

The Spanish word for “necklace”, collar, comes from the latin term “collum”, which means “neck” in latin. Therefore, the use of this piece is to beautify your neck with multiple forms and different length.

There are three sort of necklaces:

  • Short necklace or choker: A piece meant to be worn tight-fitting to the neck. You can find many variation like the ones with small pearls or tiny semi precious stones. It’s also very common for jewelers make them in velvet or lace decorated with high quality jewelry.
  • Princess Necklace: Those made with pearls and medium length among 45 and 50 cm long.
  • Opera Necklace: A term used to name those pieces made with pearls with a longer length, among 70 and 85 cm.

The design has changed over the years together with fashion.


Images @ María Vintage Photography




With “A” for “Alfiler” (Tie Pin)

A tie pin is an accessory commonly used by men that had a hit back in the 20s. This tiny piece clips the tie to the shirt so it can’t move. Sometimes, the movement makes it be in a funny position… This simple jewel will give a man’s outfit a formal and elegant look.

The tiny pin is made in gold or silver, with a head in different sizes but always richly decorated. The head has as much variety of motives as the master’s creativity, although the common pin is garnished with precious or semiprecious stones, enamel or pearls.

The only issue a tie pin has is the tiny whole it makes over the silk in the tie. After a long-time use, it may be damaged. However in the end of the day it’s a discrete vintage accessory that works better than the modern pins.

With “S” for “String”

In jewelry this term “string” is used to define a row of beads linked by a thread.

We can differenciate strings with pearls, corals, gold or any other material that can be carved with a whole in the middle in order to let the thread go through and therefore make necklaces or bracelets out of it.

In Salamanca and Leon (Spain), “string” is sort of necklace with strung beads with no high value.

Commonly the verb “to string” is used to define the action of sewing or weaving a string of pearls.


Images: @ Maria López-Linares Vintage Photography


With R for Rascamoño (Ornamental Hairclasp)

Let me put this image in your head: long needles usually decorated in one of the two ends with stones in different colors. Women used them both to hold a bun on top of the head or to just dress it.

The term describe perfectly the use we give to this vintage jewel.


It’s a piece of jewelry women use still today, specially in the Spanish are of Valencia, thanks to their popular tradition. In fact, the pics we are enclosing are about a few pieces from Maria Casanova’s family collection.

Images: María López-Linares Vintage Photography

The orient of the pearls

Do you know what “the orient of the pearls” means? The orient is the natural sparkle in a pearl, that iridescent shine so characteristic that differenciates a high-quality pearl. It’s probable that you’ve heard “these pearls have a beautiful orient”, haven’t you?

Orient is the light that reflects over the thin layers forming the surface of a pearl. That light becomes then into those beautiful iridescent reflections that grab our attention so powerful.

We call “dead pearls” those that have actually lost that shine and light.

The thiner and more beautiful the orient is the more quality the pearl will have. That’s something that you can distinguish with some experience and the habit of looking at pearls.


With “H” for “Hebilla” (Buckle)

Every belt needs a piece to be closed and tight to the wrist. In the antiquity it was very common to see these jewels in silver decorated with semiprecious stones or pearls.

Buckles are formed by a movable part with the shape of a spike to fit the few holes in the fabric or leather part. That way you can enlarge or shrink the belt to your needs.

In jewelry, it’s a piece to embellish and enrich coats and gowns for parties and ceremonies.

Although nowadays it’s more frequent find belts made in cheaper materials, we love the chance we have to use vintage buckles in modern belts. This way, we’ll be beautifying the accessory with an exclusive and probably unique piece.



D” for “Damascene”- Crafwork from Toledo

Toledo is a Spanish city known by the famous damascene craftwork. Paying a visit to Toledo will show you places where still today you’ll find the most jewelry businesses totally dedicated to create and market pieces made out of this ancient technique.

The Damascene, also known as “the Toledan gold” is a technique based on the art of insetting metals into one another, like gold or silver into iron or a darkly oxidized steel background. Many centuries ago, this technique was used not only to decorate jewelry but loads of other objetcts.


The process is slow and very arduous since masters have to make first the background piece in steel and then mark it with little lines and shapes, according to the desired design. After that, the hardest part will come: to inset a extremely thin thread of gold or silver with the help of a small punch.

The next step would be to put the piece to the fire, which will oxidize the main piece in order to give it that unique black tone. Still a few steps to go, though: to scrape, polish, burnish and finish the piece until it has the beauty of the lights reflecting on the metal and causing stunning shadows.

In jewelry we can find this technique in pendants, earrings, rings and necklaces.

With “A”: for Aljófar Pearl

That curious name “aljófar” comes from the Arabic language. It means: small pearl or group of them with irregular shape. The poets use this word more often to describe the tiny dew drops that cover plants and grass early in the morning. These pearls are generally of not much value.

You can distinguish between two different aljófar: the “poppy” (usually more esferic) and the egg-shaped “seeds”, more irregular.

This name is also given to jewelry pieces made with this kind of pearls like earrings or necklaces, or even to those pieces used to decorate the wealthiest silks during the Renaissance.

Nowadays is not frequent to find jewels made with these pearls, since it’s very complicated to work with them due to their tiny size.

When they are well attached, both over gold or silver, they have a very beautiful and elegant look.



With “T” for “Tiara”

First of all, I’d like to differentiate “tiara” from “diadem”, although the origin is the same. The best place to wear a tiara is the front of the head, where it’ll be better seen. A diadem is placed on top of the head to hold the hair.

This is an elegant and fascinating jewelry usually linked to old European royal families that played a relevant role in History. Many of these tiaras were dissambled when they stopped being in style and added the gems to other jewels.


Romans played a very important role in the evolution of the tiaras. They started this fashion and used precious stones like amethysts, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds to make them. In Greece, on the contrary, they were made out of leaves and flowers. Their designs are used still nowadays.

Lately, the tiara has been adapted to be used in weddings. It’s the most elegant and sophisticated jewel for a bride since it’ll give her a especial shine that day. In my humble opinion there’s nothing that can make the bride feels so especial like tiaras. For many this is the only time in their lives when they’ll wear a jewel like this.


This habit – top the head of a bride in her wedding day, that is – has a meaning: The loss of her inocence and the triumph of love.

It’s also frequent to see how has been used the “language of flowers” through the years, as well as the “language of the stones”. That is something a jewelry artist has in mind when makeing new designs. The selection of the stones is particularly very important, since according to the old tradition of the lapidary, each stone has a meaning. Exactly the same happens with flowers. That is why the flower design and colors are so important in making tiaras, especially those made for brides.

tiara-diccionari-vintage-by-lopez-linares-(7)Let me give you a bite of the principal meanings:




Images: María Vintage Photography