Ceramic jewellery has been with us for many years, and one of the most famous types is called Delftware. Delft jewellery is also called ‘Delft Blue’, meaning it’s always a blue and cream colour (ie normally hand painted blue objects on a cream/ white background). Delft isn’t actually a factory, but rather a style of pottery production, and was named Delft after the Dutch city of the same name.
Jewellery has been made there (and the surrounding regions) for about 400 years, though the vast majority of Delft jewellery we see today was created after the 1920s. Delft jewellery depicts many different types of scenes and patterns, most commonly images of the Netherlands, such as windmills, flowers, Dutch people in traditional dress, and occasionally old mast ships.
Tips for collecting vintage Delft jewellery:
- 1. You can still pick up vintage Delftware accessories quite cheaply. Check out Ebay as there are some real bargains to be found – prices start from as little as £5 – £10 for a basic Delft windmill brooch.
- 2. As with any type of vintage jewellery, Delft is often wrongly described or is a downright fake. A lot of Delft jewelry is signed “Delft” on the back. And if it’s not made from pottery it is definitely not true Delft!
- 3. A good tip for helping you discover unsigned Delft jewelry is to look at what it has been set into. If your brooch or pendant has a silver surround, it is possibly genuine Delft. This is because the city of Delft is nearby to the city of Schoonhoven, a famous silverware producers; once the pottery had been made, it was sent there to be set into silver (normally filigree scroll work).
Vintage Delft jewellery was normally made into brooches and pendants, though occasionally you may see pendants, earrings and bracelets too – these are quite collectible. The rarest type of vintage Delft jewellery is the Delft necklace, and I’ve only ever seen a couple.
Like the famous damascene jewellery of Toledo in Spain, most vintage Delft jewellery was made specifically for tourists to the area. What I like about it is that it’s handcrafted using centuries old techniques, and therefore each piece is that little bit unique. Some of the subjects like the Dutch windmills are quite kitsch, while others are beautifully painted, such as the flower cameo pendants. With Delft jewellery, you can enjoy collecting an ever-changing variety of shapes and beautiful subjects. If you are interested about Delft ware in general this online Deft museum is full of photographs and Delftware information.