Nautical Essex Crystal Antique Jewelry

The fourth popular motif in Victorian era Essex crystal jewelry was the nautical theme, particularly that of pennants which denoted specific yacht clubs or even spelled out words using the nautical alphabet. Boats and ships themselves were also represented.


Essex crystal flag cufflinksThis pair of flag (I’ll use the word “flag” here even though some of them are properly “pennants”) cufflinks have four crystals set into 18k gold. The first flag on the left is the Belgian diplomatic flag but I was unable to find out what the other three represent. Perhaps a reader of this blog can recognize them? Some or all might be yacht club pennants; such a flag is called a “burgee.”



Essex crystal nautical love broochThis unusual brooch spells out “I love u” in alphabet/signal flags. It is set in 14k gold and is 2.25″ wide. This page has a list of all the alphabet flags and also the International Signal meaning for each one as well. For example, the signal (message) meaning of this flag brooch would be, from left to right: I am altering my course to port; You should stop, I have something important to communicate; Man overboard; I require assistance but am not in distress; I am altering my course to starboard; and You are heading into danger. (Upon reflection, perhaps the flag meanings aren’t all that unrelated to the spelled-out message!)



Essex crystal gold and diamond nautical flag ringThis flag motif ring is set in 18k gold and features rose-cut diamonds.



Essex crystal nautical alphabet flag braceletThe entire flag alphabet is displayed in this 18k gold bracelet which is 7.5″ long and slightly less than 1/4″ wide.




Royal London Yacht Club broochThis Victorian brooch shows the burgee of the Royal London Yacht Club. It is 18k gold and measures just over an inch in diameter. Hallmarks identify it as being made by Richard Neville of Birmingham (1880-1917.)




Essex crystal flags globe and fence broochThe meaning/significance of this flag brooch design featuring a world globe and gate is unclear. Perhaps someone will recognize the design and let me know? The 15k gold content points to it being Victorian. It is a bit shy of being 1″ in diameter.



Royal Victoria Yacht club pennant Essex crystal bar broochThe burgee of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club is displayed in this bar pin which is 1.5″ long with a 3/8″ diameter crystal. It is unmarked but the seller noted that it “tested as 9k gold filled.”



Essex crystal sailboat brooch with rope borderThis 14k gold brooch depicts a sailboat with a colorful spinnaker breasting the waves. It is fairly large at 1.75″ and has an appropriately themed ropework border. You can almost smell the salt air!



Essex crystal and enamel Victorian yacht broochThis brooch is hallmarked for Enos Richardson & Company, an American jewelry manufacturer who operated from the late 1890s through the Art Deco era. The Essex crystal sailing ship is mounted in 14k gold accented with deep blue and crisp white enameling. It is 1.5″ wide.



sailboat and ships wheel cufflinks in Essex crystalThese cufflinks pair a sailboat with a ships wheel; age, gold content, and dimensions are unknown.



Essex crystal steam yacht Ophelie pendantThis turn of the century pendant depicts the Victorian steam yacht Ophelie and has three dates engraved on the back: June 5th 1900, June 16th 1900, April 11th 1901. I was curious about these dates and guessed that these might be races which the Ophelie participated in or won, so I did some cursory googling. No luck on the specific dates but did find a Forest and Stream entry dated in July 1900 mentioning the following:

The Department of State has presented a magnificent silver vase to Emmanuel F. Marguerite, owner of the French yacht Ophelie, for his humane conduct in saving the Captain, his family, and the crew of the American bark Rebecca Crowell, of Bath, Me. The Crowell was dismasted, unmanageable and sinking in the Mediterranean when overhauled by the Ophelie. The captain of the latter vessel lowered a boat, in charge of Paul Sabatier, his guest, and with great difficulty and in great peril a line was passed to the bark and she was towed to a safe place. The State Department has also awarded a gold medal to Mr. Sabatier and $20 to each member of the crew of the boat, in recognition of their heroic conduct.

In addition I discovered an excerpt from the 1903 book My Travels in China, Japan and Java in which the author mentions that he “visited my acquaintances M. and Madame Marguerite on board their delightful 500-ton yacht the Ophelie, in which they had come all the way from Marseilles, and in which they were returning after visiting India.” The size of the ship confirms that this pendant does indeed show the yacht that belonged to the Marguerite family.



antique Essex crystal brooch of a steam yachtAnother yacht, although this time anonymous, is shown in this Victorian brooch signed by Benzie of Cowes, circa 1880. Further details were not given to accompany this unfortunately small photo.

Other posts in this series about Essex crystal:

  8 comments for “Nautical Essex Crystal Antique Jewelry

  1. June 24, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Wow, little beauties!

  2. June 24, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    What a time that must have been. Sailing the Mediterranean, heroic rescues, back and forth to India… but I like your decoding of I love U best of all!

    • June 24, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      The flag messages do seem appropriate to the situation, don’t they? 😉 I LOL’d at the “man overboard” one in particular!

  3. June 24, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    What incredible pieces! Amazing detail and such an informative article. I’m still trying to absorb it all…fascinating to say the least!

  4. Kris MarlackDVM
    October 12, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Perhaps the gate and globe image with British ensigns refers to Gibraltar
    as the” gate to the world “for the British Navy? maybe it was made for the wife of commanding officer stationed at Gibraltar ? Just a thought
    Love your posts .please do more on horse crystals
    I have amassed many images if you need some
    Kris M veterinarian USA

    • October 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      That’s definitely an intriguing theory! Never thought of Gibraltar but that would tie in for sure. Many thanks for the kind words and I will keep the idea of additional equine crystals in mind. 🙂 I do have an equine post in the works for later this year although regarding porcelain rather than jewelry.

  5. lilleprins
    October 3, 2019 at 3:30 am

    Regarding the unknown flags of the first picture: the second one could be an Austrian flag, the fourth one is almost certainly a flag of the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Unfortunately I cannot enlarge the picture, so it is very difficult to indentify the crowns properly.

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