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 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 “L” for “Lazo” (Bow)

Let’s understand “bow” here as a long fabric band that allows us to tie a piece in a decorative and creative way. A bowknot is a knot made with laces to close shoes, but also a ribbon to decorate the a pony tail in girls or several bows forming a rosette.

Bows decorate dresses, hairs, shoes, bags and even gifts. They are the final touch to give anything a romantic air.

And of course, it’s a must in our Vintage Dictionary the bow-shaped brooches.


These pieces were very common and famous in the 20’s, although they’ve been used in jewelry for centuries in order to create brooches, earrings and pendants.

The bow-shaped brooches are perfect for a romantic and old look, both for a smart or a casual outfit.

They use to be made in gold or silver and can be decorated with color, semiprecious or precious stones as well as with pearls of all kind. It’s a sort of decoration very frequent in tiaras, earrings and rings. It’s the best way to show the world the vintage part inside you.

Imáges: María Vintage Photography

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.



With “E” for “Estras” (Strass or Rhinestone)

A flint glass with a high lead content, used to imitate gemstones

A flint glass used to imitate gemstones and create therefore fantasy jewelry. The name comes from the creator’s family name, Georg Friedrich Strass. (1701-1773).

Back in 1750, he Alsatian jeweler Strass invented a piece of glass with a high lead content and a shine very similar to the one in the gemstones. This creation was quickly spread all over the world, reachable by any level of society (since the price was very affordable. Strass invented the concept of “precious stone imitation”. He spent his life to manufactuing these “fake” gemstones.


In 1810 Lançon improved the invention by making the imitations with an outstanding brightness and harder, by placing a metal with mirroring shine in the base to reflect the light. Although in the beginning they were manufactured only in white, after a little while and a few technical advances, they added more colors to imitate rubies, emeralds or saphires.

Any woman wants to shine on her own, and this creation allowed any woman from any class to have access to “jewelry”, at a very affordable price. Strass popularized this way the use of gemstones.

Years after, these gem imitations have been used to decorate clothes, shoes and all kind of fashion accesories.

Images: María Vintage Photography

With “B” for “Brooch”

The root of a brooch is the fibula, a piece as old as the Bronze Age.

The use like we know it today – piece of jewelry – started during the Classic period. It was used to hold or fasten the traditional heavy clothes.

Over the years, this piece became into an ornament with the only purpose of decoration. Nowadays it’s a considered a vintage jewelry for women to be worn over the lapel, dresses or a scarf.


It’s made of two solded pieces: the decorative part and the safety pin to clip it to the fabric. And I say “safety” because brooches usually have a security system to help keep it fastened to the clothe and therefore avoid the loss.

It’s also usual to find a hidden piece into the brooch. We have a few of the kind in our vintage collection. It’s a sort of ring that can be opened in order to pass a chain that will allow you to use it as a necklace.

Many women collect them, and it’s frequent to find brooch collectionists specialized in just a given form of the piece, like bows, ladybugs, dragonflies and the kind.

It’s a gorgeous piece of jewelry that will always match your gown to help make it more elegant and timeless.


In oder to show you how a good choice of a brooch can be your ideal accesory to finish your attire more elegant, let me use the well-known saying “to close with a golden brooch”, which means that the matter you are talking about needs that final touch to make it just perfect.

Images: @María Vintage Photography


With “R” for “Rosary beads”

A rosary is a strand of beads ending in a cross that is used to lead the prayer. Back in the past the beads were made with dry roses, that’s the reason it was called “rosary”. Currently it’s one of the most important symbols within Christianity.

The knots or beads are used to count sequences of prayers. Each prayer is formed by 15 equal parts called mysteries.


However sometimes the ter mis used to refer to a strand of beads itself. In vintage jewelry there are many silver and Golden rosaries, with beads made of mother-of-pearl, pearls, or semiprecious stones. It’s a very common gift for children who receive their first communion.

Something that in the very beginning was just a Christian devotion object is today inspiration for many jewellery masters to create their necklaces and bracelets. You’ll find designs with different sizes of beads of all colours, or others more vintage from the 19th century.

As usual, the jewelry inspires in popular habits.



Images: María Vintage Photography