February 02, 2020
I first became interested in cut steel accessories about fifteen years ago when I started collecting 20th century brooches. Cut steel bore right into my aesthetic with its, to me, industrial vibe - more mid-century than Victorian. Polished steel studs riveted onto a baseplate, made to catch the light and sparkle like diamonds. The English manufactured steel cut shoe buckles as early as the 18th century, if not earlier. As fashion changed, and the demand for buckles waned, other types of cut steel jewelry became fashionable. By the 1820s France became a large exporter of cut steel buckles, and in fact, many of the buckles in my collection are marked France. By the 1850’s stamped strips started replacing individual rivets, leading to a decline in quality which led to brittleness and material failure. Most production of cut steel pieces waned dramatically by the 1930s and coupled with breakage caused by brittleness and the tendency of rusting, led to a scarcity of viable pieces in the marketplace.
I experimented with using riveted buckles as bracelet forms and found that they are wonderfully moldable to the shape of a wrist - done very carefully, of course! They also act as a wonderfully clean, industrial backdrop for “fancier” elements.
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