Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Vintage Cinnabar Jewellery

What Is Cinnabar - Or The Art of Tsuishu

Genuine cinnabar is a rock type mineral, which was carved and made into jewelery for a very short period of time, in the Far East. It is no longer produced as it was realized that the main constituent is mercury – which is a highly poisonous neuro-toxin. Mercury is also the substance which used to be sucked up into bead tubes to ‘silver line' the beads by cottage workers in Bohemia.

Cinnabar in its rough state can vary from bright scarlet to brick red.

What is sold now, and what is often termed ‘real’ Cinnabar, is actually carved lacquered wood or more recently, resin.

The art of ‘tsuishu’ (carved cinnabar) is a fascinating and highly labor intensive technique, developed in China. The bangle bracelet core used to be made from wood, (now often made from plastic resin), which may be why when tapped lightly against a hard surface, it sounds hollow. It is also remarkably light in weight.

Next countless layers of lacquer are applied, one by one, and each allowed the time required to dry. Gradually the desired thickness is reached, after days, weeks or months of production.
Next the artisan carves designs into the item, and this really is one of the best ways of dating something made in this laborious fashion.

I have a bangle which is dated to the late 18th, early 19th century(pictured above). It was possible to date it because of the type and style of decoration carved into the bangle. Older pieces tend to depict dragons (as does mine), and the style and depth of the carving, along with the motif is what dates these items definitively. There are three different types of carving on this cinnabar bangle.

Check out www.specialistauctions.com/collectablesnet It was more than double the price it is now before Christmas, but now is on sale for the month of January. These genuine antique cinnabar bangles are becoming rarer and much more difficult to find, snap this one up while it is on sale.

Anyone who is looking for genuine vintage items like this to accessorize genuine vintage clothing, will find many types of absolutely guaranteed vintage at http://www.specialistauctions.com/

There are many sites popping up to try to copy 'the bay' but none of them (except Specialist Auctions) have moderators for each category who 'police' their items for sale, and ensure that fakes are kept out of the site.

It is such a relief to know you can buy something online and know you are not getting ripped off. Signing up is free, listing items is free with up to seven pictures. And real people listen to your ideas and reply, it is a whole new 'cleaner' buying experience which is great fun.

Oriental style vintage clothing is often in fashion, and what better way to compliment a vintage oriental style outfit better than a classy piece of genuine cinnabar vintage jewelry. There are brooches, bangles necklaces and even hair ornaments which were made during the 1890's, as was this bracelet.

Please note the colour of the pictures here vary, according to whether a flash was used when photographing. The brick red is the actual colour of true genuine antique hand made tsuishi.

The market is currently flooded with new Cinnabar, and much of it being sold as ‘genuine’. The colour, the patina, the style and most importantly, the carving all give you big clues that the item is not genuinely antique or even vintage.

If you prefer newly made 'cinnabar' then you will find plenty of modern items for sale. But be very wary of unscrupulous sellers making outragous claims.


Anonymous said...

More useful information to help us stop getting cheated out of our money. Thank you Erica, I look forward to reading your blogs which always have interesting and helpful content, not just adverts for your stuff.

Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

I have a ton of stuff from ex mother in law and gran to sell, but cant face trying to sell of feebay again, their fees are a total rip-off.

I for one will check out Specialist Auctions and give them a try.


Anonymous said...

I always wondered what cinerbar was. And their is so much of it around now, but even the stuff sellers say is vintage, doesn't look old to me.

Thanks for these tips and advice.


andapanda said...

Awesome post. Thanks for sharing! Andrea

Anonymous said...

Thank you Erica, I look forward to reading your blogs