Introducing Marcasite Jewellery and Its History

Marcasite jewellery is often refers to silver jewellery decorated with Pyrite gemstones. Sterling Silver and marcasite have been proven to be the perfect march, because the dark coloration of marcasite and makes it blend in spectacularly without making it look like it was a cheap stone.

People, nowadays, often confuse the mineral marcasite with pyrite. The gemstone used in jewellery making is pyrite, however pyrite used as a gemstone is widely called as marcasite. The name marcasite in jewellery terminology stems from the Arabic word for Pyrite, Markaschatsa. In general, it is lighter and more brittle than pyrite, but it is never used as a gem in jewellery, because of its chemically unstable structure.

According to Archaeological record, the Incas are the first known civilisation to use marcasite jewellery. There are considerable amount of marcasite jewellery pieces found in Incan burial chambers throughout South America. There are also archaeology discoveries in ancient Greece of the use of marcasites in jewellery.

In the 1600’s, marcasite jewellery became increasingly popular due to the introducing of Sumptuary Laws which forbade the use of diamond by ordinary people but the most aristocratic. The law were later introduced to other parts of Europe, including England and France. Since marcasite is an excellent imitation of diamond, the injunctive gave a boost to its production in the Europe market. In the late 1700’s, the Swiss and Italians began to produce Marcasite for the European market.

In 18th and 19th century, silver jewellery with marcasite became very popular in Britain. The popularity reached its peak during the Queen Victoria’s reign, due to the Queen’s endearment to marcasite jewellery. She frequently wore beautiful marcasite jewellery I public as a substitute for diamonds. The lower cost of marcasite jewellery made it affordable to the masses. At the time, marcasites became the standard substitute to diamond. If it’s properly crafted, marcasites were as beautiful as diamonds.

Today, the jewellery with marcasite is as popular as ever. The combination of sterling silver and marcasite give the jewellery a special vintage look. The most popular marcasite designers are romantic Art nouveau styles and classic Art Deco styles. The most commonly seen cuttings are oval cut and trilliant cut. It’s no longer the poor relation of diamond.

History of Skincare Part 15: The Age Of Enlightenment, 1700-1799

A Continuation of Excess

While most of Europe was ruled by Royalty during the eighteenth century, it was the philosophers who truly controlled the courts. Court philosophers were common and the royalty of the time not only contemplated their philosophies, but tried to put them into practice. Reason and logic were the trends of the day and the new theories were increasingly applied to fashion, cosmetics and skincare as people slowly began to take a more logical approach to style.

While the French court of Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, may have been a bastion of philosophers, it was actually the last place to see the decline of excess. Court fashion dictated that wigs be even higher than they had been the century before and that faces be decorated with even more elaborate beauty spots. Heavy powders were still worn along with the vermilion lip color that had been popular for centuries. The English court was even facing a rejuvenation of excess as the monarchy was reinstated and Puritan dictator Oliver Cromwell was replaced by King Charles II. Freed from decades of repression, British nobility took to the styles imported from the French court, embracing everything that had been previously considered bawdy and uncouth. An increasing amount of skin was revealed as bustlines were cut lower, and both British and French fashionistas took to powdering their chests with the same lead used for their faces.

Philosophers of Intellect and Reason

As the century wore on, many people began to take a more logical, reasonable approach to skincare. Instead of relying on superstition, they tried to incorporate scientific practice into their hygiene regimes. Many people started to think of milk as an easy cure for all types of ailments. Women would bathe in milk to give themselves softer, clearer skin. It was also believed that milk contained soothing properties and that drinking milk was good for the skin as well as for the temperament.**

As the philosophers mused on topics such as purity, vanity and morality, the decadent styles perpetrated by the French and English courts began to decrease in popularity. At the beginning of the century, women still wore heavy face powder, lots of rouge and some even pasted on fake eyebrows made from the fur of small animals. By the end of the century, however, cosmetic use had been drastically toned down. A clean-faced look was considered ideal and there was a much greater emphasis on naturally beautiful skin, now that the scars and pockmarks were not being covered up.

Magazines: Interdit!

One of the clearest signs that the age of extravagance was coming to an end was the public disfavor of the fashion magazines of the day. These magazines, which provided practical and stylistic advice on fashion and skincare, were deemed “interdit,” French for forbidden. While it was still legal to manufacture and to own these magazines, they were rejected by polite society as being vulgar. They depicted women in various states of undress and they explained in great detail methods for applying face powder, rouge and lip color. Fashion no longer allowed women to dress so flamboyantly. The structured gowns of the Baroque and early Enlightenment periods had been replaced by soft, flowing dresses. The elaborate make-up had been replaced by naturally-glowing skin. While it may have still been acceptable to add a touch of pink rouge to the cheeks, face powder and vermilion lips were reserved for the lowest classes of society: actors and prostitutes. ***

Public opposition to cosmetics became so ferocious that some countries even outlawed their use entirely. By the end of the century, the English Parliament had passed a law forbidding women to wear cosmetics. Form-altering clothing such as bustles, wigs and high-heeled shoes were also banned, due to the belief that wearing them was a form of deception. The English King himself preferred to wear a simple three piece suit. The French court, on the other hand, continued to promote the extravagance it had enjoyed for centuries. It was this extravagance, in the midst of nation-wide poverty, that eventually prompted the French Revolution at the end of the century.

While fashions may have changed and magazines may have been deemed impolite, however, women continued to invent new ways to care for their skin. A book published late in the century, titled “The Toilet of Flora,” outlined methods and techniques for preparing skin care products. As the nineteenth century ushered in the tight rule of Queen Victoria, these natural, unassuming techniques would be needed more than ever.


** Read more about the Enlightenment attitude toward milk here:

*** Read more about fashion magazines during the Enlightenment here:

The History Behind Coach Handbags

Have you ever wondered about the companies behind designer handbags? Does it really matter if you know who makes those bags? Maybe I just have too much time on my hands. But I decided that I wanted to know something about some of the companies behind those high priced bags. Because Coach bags are so popular I decided to learn more about the Coach Company.

After some research on the internet, of course, I discovered that Coach was founded in 1941 and was and still is based out of New York City. American made handbags, awesome. I am still confused on Coach’s original name because in one search the company was called Manhattan Leather Bags and another search the company was called Gail Leather Products. However, all the stories agree that it began as a family-owned business, with six leather workers who hand-made leather wallets and billfolds.

In 1946, Miles Cahn and his wife Lillian joined the company. They were owners of a leather handbag manufacturing business and with their knowledge about leather works were a great fit. Within 4 short years, Cahn had all but taken over the business. Creative, curious, and one whose business was leather, he noticed the longer a baseball glove was used, the softer and more supple the leather became. In his attempt to duplicate the same process used for the baseball gloves, he created a way of processing the leather that made it stronger, softer, and more flexible. An added benefit of this process was that the leather absorbed the dye better resulting in a deeper and richer color.

In 1961, Miles and Lillian Cahn bought the company and Lillian suggested that the company start making women’s leather handbags. Miles was against the idea because there were a lot of handbag companies in New York and stores were buying knock-offs from Europe. However, Lillian prevailed and she designed the first Coach Bag. It was a tote modeled after a paper shopping bag she had used as a girl in Wilkes-Barre, PA. It became a classic. Miles went on to make a dozen other handbag designs that became the first generation of the Coach Line and Lillian became the spokesperson for the company. She established a strong rapport with fashion writers and editors and put Coach bags in the fashion circles.

Miles hired Bonnie Cashin, a sportswear pioneer, to design handbags for Coach and she revolutionized the product’s design. During that time, Cashin instituted the inclusion of side pockets, coin purses, and brighter colors (as opposed to the usual hues of browns and tans) onto the bags. She added hardware to her handbags, specifically the silver toggle that became the Coach hallmark. Cashin remained with the company until 1974. Around the mid-1970s, the company changed its name to Coach Products, Inc and in 1980, the company changed its name again to Coach Leatherware Company, Inc.

In 1979, Lewis Frankfort joined Coach as the Vice President of New Business Development. He spearheaded the development of Coach Stores and introduced Coach to the international markets. In 1985, Sara Lee Corporation bought Coach and Frankfort was appointed President of Coach. Ten years later, Frankfort was appointed Chairman and CEO of Coach and he branched out opening specialty stores and mail catalogs. Sales significantly increased and because the demand was greater than the supply, Coach had to restrict sales to hand-selected vendors.

Coach handbags are handcrafted from the finest American and European hides and textiles and continues to innovate each season, turning out new colors, styles and designs.

A good friend of mine told me that when her husband asks her what she wants for Christmas or her birthday, she asks for the latest Coach Handbag. Coach Handbags are not only beautiful but are so well made that they can last a lifetime, at least according to my good friend. Buy a Coach Handbag and let me know what you think. I believe you will be just as impressed as my friend.