Glitz, Grammys......and Paste?????
Well I am planing on watching the Grammy's tonight~ I cant wait to see who is wearing what :) I was planing on posting on 18th century paste anyway, and thought, you know~ if they would have had a Grammy Awards show in the 18th century, they would have worn paste to it! In all actuality, it may surprise you that many of today's well to do also wear paste jewels~ copies of their precious real ones at home in the safe. Paste was very popular in the 18th c~ nearly more so than actual real diamonds, and was even made by the Royal jewelers. The above 18th c buckles are made of the most popular type of paste~ the colorless type that simulates diamonds. These things really BLING in natural light, just like diamonds. This brilliant type of paste is made of a highly leaded glass, more specifically a borosilicate of potassium and lead, with a little alumina in the mix. They are backed in silver foil for maximum reflection and sparkle, usually in a bezel setting, as the backs must be airtight as to not tarnish and discolor the stone.
Georges- Frederic Strass invented the technique for making paste in Paris in 1724. All manner of jewelry was made from it, and it was a favorite stone for shoe buckles up until the last quarter of the 18th c when latchets on the shoes went out of fashion. They usually were made in suites~ 2 for the shoes, 2 for the breeches (men), and sometimes matching stock buckles as well (for the neck), and kept in their own fitted cases, highly prized. It is somewhat rare to have a set, as over the years, one would be given to one child, the other to a second child ect ect, since there isn't much call for actually using them. Many were stripped of their mechanisms and made into brooches as well
Looking to the back, one can see they are as nicely finished here too. Note the bezel settings are completely solid and airtight on the reverse. On the rectangular buckle on the bottom, the fork like poker to the right is called a 'tongue', and the oval loop with the 2 spikes on the left is called a 'chape'. They are held by a pin down the center and rotate for ease of use. I have made a little video for you to see how they are actually attached to the latchets on an 18th c shoe. I currently do not have an adult size pair to show you on, so I made up a simple pair of leather latchets to demonstrate with