Saturday, March 30, 2013


Within my reach (Almost)

Within my reach!
I could have touched!
I might have chanced that way!
Soft sauntered through the village,
Sauntered as soft away!
So unsuspected violets
Within the fields lie low;
Too late for striving fingers
That passed, an hour ago.

Gustav Manz violet ring with sapphire and two diamonds 
made for his daughter Helen, circa 1916
Private collection 

During her reign, Queen Victoria's favorite violet sold by the pint in Covent Garden. Some of our favorite posies are pressed into the pages of Gustav Manz's business ledger—among them, his design for an amethyst ring composed of two diamond-studded johnny jump ups with heart-shaped leaves and narrow stems running along the shank. 

Manz rendering for a gold, amethyst, and diamond violet ring purchased in 1920 by Manhattan gem dealer C.G. Bernhardt. Revelers in ancient Greece drank from carved amethyst cups, believing the purple stone warded off hangovers. 

Although he took on some commissioned work for private clients, Manz did not mark the pieces he and several bench artisans produced for his wholesale accounts. But ledgers record more than a dozen iterations of his violet design sold to Shreve, Crump & Low and Tiffany & Co and other prestigious merchants between 1910 and 1925.

Gold and diamond Violet Brooch 
Gustav Manz, circa 1910
Private collection

Several of Manz's floral rings went to family members. His mother-in-law, Sophie Bachem, widow of a diamond ring manufacturer, chose a signet version of the violet engraved with her initials and a pale-blue gem winking at the center of each flower. A niece received a ring of gold iris spears cradling a black opal. A ring with faceted sapphire surrounded by diamond-set violets was the jeweler's Christmas gift to his daughter Helen in 1922 (though her birth month was November). As poet Kate Greenaway said of Shakespeare: "The spring flowers in his hands are nearly as beautiful as themselves."


violet pendant cast from Manz's original may be purchased at

Quote from Kate Greenaway letter to John Ruskin, 1896, in Kate Greenaway by M.H. Spielmann and G.S. Layard published by Adam and Charles Black, London, 1905

The phrase "amethysts in the hedgerows" was coined by French herbalist Maurice Messegue

Gustav Manz Violet Brooch seen above was exhibited in "Finer Things: Jewelry and Accessories from the 1880s-1930s" curated by Elise Zorn Karlin at Stan Hywet Museum in Akron, OH, April 2012-October 2012; photos not otherwise marked should be credited Gustav Manz LLC


We welcome your comments and invite you to follow Gustav Manz on Facebook and Instagram.  

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved 
Gustav Manz LLC

No comments:

Post a Comment