So you want to know more about those square ruby earrings in the 1899 TV series worn by lovely newlywed Clémence?
Here’s what we know…
To start, in 1899, the trending fashion in jewelry would’ve been Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau is known for curves and natural motifs. Read more about Art Nouveau here in this article on Art Nouveau vs. Art Deco.
Art Nouveau Jewelry was Trending in 1899
Art Nouveau reached its peak at the 1900 L’Exposition Universelle on the Champ de Mars, Paris, where master jeweler René Lalique showcased his work.
But Clémence’s earrings have a linear feel, which is often attributed to Art Deco jewelry So are Clémence’s earrings an anachronism? Should they not have any Art Deco feel to them at all?Actually, no.
There’s a moment at the turn of the century when Art Nouveau and Art Deco appeared to overlap.
Yes, these earrings do have some Nouveau flow.
The loosely attached chains, two sets of two on each earring pendant, droop organically with curving lines.
But this is a far cry from the floral, flowing designs of Lalique and others who incorporated the erotic undulating curves of the female form, the sinuous whiplash line, or the billowing and wispy leaf and ivy motifs.
Clémence’s red earrings look like Art Nouveau’s Glasgow School
However, these earrings do feel like the Nouveau-era aesthetic attributed to the Glasgow School.
When Lalique was exhibiting his work at the Paris Exposition, the Glasgow School was in full swing.
According to the National Galleries in Scotland: “In Scotland, a unique brand of Art Nouveau developed, led by the Glasgow Four.” Its members founded an artists’ colony in 1899, just the year before Lalique exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition.
“They founded a later Art Nouveau style that was more geometric, with restrained ornamentation and curving vertical lines.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was arguably the most prolific.” And as reported in the Guardian, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was doing Art Deco before it existed. (Though sisters Margaret and Frances MacDonald made more jewelry.)
So Clémence’s earrings are both Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
Why are Clémence’s earrings red in 1899?
The use of a rose-red gemstone might also be a call-back to the Glasgow School. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was known for the red Glasgow Rose.
But is there another possibility?
Ruby, a precious gemstone (alongside diamond, emerald, and sapphire) is a birthstone for July. Gemstones, both precious and semi-precious, have meanings attributed to them, and transferred to the person who wears them.
For example, the diamond is an emblem of innocence. Lovers and friends have long noted the significance attached to various gems and gemstones, and therefore to give them for birthdays, engagement, and as wedding presents.
The birthstone for July – ruby – is attributed with the power to discover poison and correct evils resulting from mistaken friendship.
Spoiler alert: Clémence’s new husband isn’t as interested in her as a young man just married might be in his new wife.
If you want an affordable alternative to real rubies, these deep red vintage glass dangles shown below are a minusOne bestseller.)
What do Clémence’s earrings mean?
In addition to being historically accurate from a jewelry design perspective, and to forecasting the false friendship of her husband, Clémence’s earrings incorporate other symbols, including the triangle.
The inverted triangle with the horizontal line is referenced throughout the series.
Sushrut Gopesh of Digital Mafia Talkies writes, “At first, we believed that it might be a logo of the shipping company that was owned by Henry Singleton, but as soon as we realized that the world, we believed to be real was merely a simulation, we knew that the symbol had a much deeper meaning than what we had assumed.
From the perspective of basic geometry, the black pyramid given to Maura in an early episode is mathematically a compilation of equilateral triangles.
The design also echoes the shape of a ship’s sail and rigging (ropes and lines) of a then-recently bygone era.
Finally, the triangle can represent the pointer on a compass, a symbol of lost direction in the series. The red round stones at the top and bottom of the earrings the compass’ North and South points.
Who made Clémance’s earrings in 1899?
We started with what we know, and we’ll end with what we still don’t know.
Clémence’s earrings were clearly designed for the series. The earrings are as close to a logo for the show as one can get.
Still, the designer behind them is as much of a mystery as the ending of the series
But I’ll @Netflix and give you a shout when I know.
Subscribe to the minusOne newsletter. I send emails twice a month.