Monday, June 11, 2012

A Tour of the Biltmore Estate


I just finished a glorious vacation at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. While there I perused the gift shops with a particular interest in the jewelry offered by the Estate.

I expected to see jewelry styled in the fashion of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the time period that was the Estate's heyday. Instead, the jewelry was very modern and greatly influenced by the large artisan community in the Asheville area.

The largest collection of jewelry was dichroic glass. The glass was boldly wire wrapped in sterling silver and very modern. The necklaces curled and twirled as they draped around the neck. The glass was primarily in pastel colors or in cool blue tones and the designs were very intricate.

An example of dichroic glass by Jewelry24Seven
The second largest collection of jewelry was wire wrapped stone pendants. These stones are wire wrapped in gold filled wire exclusively. The stones are a variety of jaspers and agates, with amethysts and opals thrown in for good measure. I did not see a single stone wrapped in sterling silver. Perhaps a new trend?

Wire Wrapped Blue Topaz in Gold Fill by YourDailyJewels
The stones averaged two inches in length. In contrast to the dichroic glass jewelry,
the wire wrapping was simple and straight forward. None of it detracted from the beauty of the stone. It simply acted as a frame for the stone. Only the bails have some slight embellishment.

The last collection of jewelry was found only in one gift shop. It was a small collection of spoon jewelry featuring watches, bracelets, pendants, and earrings.

The watches are stainless steel cases with sterling silver spoons for the braclets and closed with toggle clasps. The bracelets are made from more ornate spoons closing with toggle clasps. The pendants are made from spoons and forks twisted into unique shapes. The earrings are made from the ends of ornate spoons. This collection is closest to the time period in which the Biltmore Estate was at its height.

Downtown Asheville has a large artists' community filled with jewelers, painters, fiber artists, sculptors, and potters. This community has spilled over into the gift shops at the Biltmore Estate. This continues the efforts of George Vanderbilt to support his community when Biltmore House was first built in 1895.
Tourmaline Necklace

10 comments :

Tracy said...

Wow, the Biltmore looks incredible! What a fabulous trip!

DG Jewelry Designs said...

Val, sounds like you had a fantastic trip.

JillreOzmay said...

Very interesting. I will have to do some research to learn more about the Biltmore. Thank you for sparking my interest Val. Great post!

capitalcitycrafts said...

Sounds like a great place to visit & be inspired!

Beadsme said...

This place sounds awesome.

Lori Taggart said...

Interesting post! I would have expected jewelry in styles from the turn of the last century too.

Bob J24-7 said...

Looks like an amazing place to visit! Thank you for featuring my ring in this interesting post ...

Your Daily Jewels said...

It looks so beautiful. I have always wanted to go and now so, even more!

willowcreekjewelry said...

Sounds like a wonderful vacation and how fun to see all the styles of jewelry in such a large artist community! You've chosen beautiful artisan picks for your post!

LoveStoneArts said...

Thanks so much for the story of your trip to Asheville and the Biltmore Estate. One of my favorite locales. Also, an interesting look at jewelry trends in the shops.