‘Ornament a la Mode:’ exploring jewelry from the 1600s
Published - 02/09/20 - 09:00 AM | 4257 views | 3 3 comments | 113 113 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacquelyn Babush and Timken Executive Director Megan Pogue surround “Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress.”
Jacquelyn Babush and Timken Executive Director Megan Pogue surround “Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress.”

The Timken Museum hosted ‘Ornament a la Mode’ on Jan. 27, in Balboa Park. Jacquelyn Babush provided an informative lecture on jewelry in the time frame of 1600 to 1775. This was the late Renaissance through the mid-Georgian era. Babush gave an educational presentation, which included the trends in fashion during this time with the aristocratic classes. As trends changed in fashion, jewelry would follow the scale and line of the fashion. Babush first started with a picture of Queen Elizabeth, whose dress was encrusted with jewels. Both fabrics and jewelry were considered a status symbol and lace was as important as diamonds.

One of the popular pieces of jewelry was the “ouches,” which were sewn into the clothes. When Charles I died, people started wearing mourning jewelry that became a trend. During Queen Anne’s era, the fashions became relaxed with very little jewelry. By 1750, the Rococo era began and saw the appearance of the stomacher jewel that became more and more ornate. By 1726, diamonds were discovered in Brazil, allowing them to become more of the focal point. 

Jewelry with flower designs were sought after because they all had meaning such as the tulip, which symbolized wealth and abundance. “Slides” were beginning to be used, which were two loops in the back of a brooch where you could insert a ribbon to wear around the neck. The trend for jewelry waned in 1730 and not much jewelry was worn at that time. During the mid-’70s, there was no jewelry although they would wear one pendant such as a Sévigné bow girandole. This continued up to the time of Marie Antoinette, who lavishly wore jewelry.

There was a part two of the presentation that included 38 pieces of Babush’s personal collection of jewelry from this time period. Trays with jewelry were passed around to each of the guests, allowing them to have “hands-on” time with each piece. This was a wonderful opportunity to inspect jewelry from the 1600s and the 1700s. After this amazing lecture, everyone was able to purchase the precious pieces of art and 10% went back to the museum. For more information, visit rubylane.com. 

The first exhibition of 2020 at the Timken will begin Feb. 11, and will be “Captivating Women” from the San Diego-based collectors, Bram and Sandra Dijkstra. It marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote.

Twenty undergraduate students in the art history course at University of San Diego had the opportunity to pick five works of art at the Dijkstras’ home for the exhibit. Timken’s Director of Curatorial Affairs Derrick R. Cartwright, Ph.D., taught this course and picked the remaining pieces for the exhibit.

The Timken Museum is always free and is closed on Monday. For more information, contact: timkenmuseum.org.



Saturday, March 7 — Luncheon and fashion show to benefit Soroptimist International of San Diego. Gretchen Productions at the Sheraton Harbor Island Marina Tower will present “Striving for the Stars.” For info, call 619-670-9880. 

Tuesday March 31 — Globe Guilder’s Luncheon and Fashion Show at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine. All proceeds benefit The Old Globe. For information, call 858-382-1672.


Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the San Diego. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at DianaCavagnaro.com.

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