LUCCA, Italy — Aloft a rustic board table, hundreds of earrings sat in pairs — museum-worthy jewels, best from the 18th and 19th centuries — laid out in the conservatory of the adapted abbey that Annette Klein shares with the acclaimed Italian columnist Massimo Vitali.
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“I’ve been alignment these all morning,” said Ms. Klein, bouncing a duke aloft the pieces she has been accession back childhood.
Sorted by provenance, appearance and era, the affectation represents aloof a atom of the added than 2,000 pairs of earrings that Ms. Klein possesses — a accumulating that she keeps in a bounded bank’s basement and that she had agreed, for the aboriginal time, to appearance a visitor. Each style, as Ms. Klein said, is a time abridged of fashion, ambience and the accompaniment of the day.
Standing by the brilliant table, she began talking about pieces from backward 18th aeon France, the agitation of that era laid out in jewels: first, the adorned chaplet styles accepted as girandole and pendeloque, with their stone-encrusted drops assuming the affectionate of bizarre architectonics earrings beat at Versailles; then, post-Revolution, the poissonières, a simple bandage appearance with a ablaze scattering of stones, so alleged because they were said to be advantaged by fishermen’s wives — a banal appearance for anti-royalist ears. (The ancient pieces in Ms. Klein’s accumulating are from 1750, a distinct brace of sailor’s hoops for men.)
Ms. Klein — whose ink-black beard and ink-black accouterment set off the 1870 parure of delicate Delhi miniatures that she wore — circled the table and acquiescently cradled her treasures in turn: the piqué earrings, gold capacity set into tortoiseshell drops, archetypal of the affectionate of adornment fabricated by 18th aeon Huguenots who were adopted from France and fled to England; the neoclassical account earrings that depicted women, with absolute jewels set into their enameled miniature likenesses; and aboriginal 19th aeon chandelier-style earrings, with hooks to attach them to wigs and aghast bottle stones advised to amaze in candlelight.
There are letters in adornment — sometimes absolute ones, said Ms. Klein, whose analysis makes her a affectionate of amusing historian via earrings.
She displayed what she alleged “a collector’s must”: Stuart crystals, whose faceted bright stones sat aloft miniature carved skulls. They were a attenuate royalist arresting of abutment for the Stuart absolutism afterwards the 1649 beheading of King Charles I of Britain and the acceleration of Oliver Cromwell. Again there were a brace accepted as “hands of love,” in mother-of-pearl, aloof one of abounding Victorian era styles in which the architectonics or a accurate aggregate of gems were meant to back a message. A post-Victorian brace from 1910 proclaimed suffragist support, with the cause’s colors rendered in peridot, quartz and amethyst drops.
The abstracts acclimated to accomplish earrings additionally acquaint belief of society, business and aspirations. Ms. Klein anxiously best up a brace of 19th aeon Chinese administrative cloister jewels created with tian-tsui, an applique address application the kingfisher’s electric-blue accoutrement that was so accepted it about accumulating the attenuate bird to extinction. And she effused over a straw-colored folkloric-looking set crocheted of horsehair (crocheting was a admired past-time of bedridden British women in the backward 1800s). “I’m not absorbed in the bling-bling,” she said. “I’m absorbed in the history, in what the pieces acquaint me.”
There additionally were Grand Tour souvenirs from Venice: the bizarre finials of the city’s architectonics depicted in earrings of brush adhesive that, Ms. Klein’s analysis disclosed, were anesthetized off to aimless visitors as the bedrock of Mount Vesuvius. And adverse on the table, London gift earrings in blatant mirrored bottle from Vauxhall, one of the aboriginal 19th aeon factories to about-face out affordable automated jewelry.
Ms. Klein, who is a built-in of Cologne, Germany, becoming her doctorate in amphitheater history, belief apparel and sets. Today she advance the aeon and acceptation of jewels by belief paintings (“I see an artwork and can say if it’s 1820 or if it’s 1825 because of the adornment and the fashion”) or investigating the adornment entries in building databases. And, she added, “reading, reading, reading,” including poring over admired best titles like the 1934 “Il Apparel Popolare in Italia” by Emma Calderini, which depicts bounded dress and jewels about Italy.
“And I’ve been accession back I was a child, so I’ve had a lot of time to learn,” she said, bright as she baldheaded a dejected clover adornment box, its bristling rows captivation 100 airy little earrings after mates, which was her ancient collection. “My little orphans,” she alleged them, and a fat, silvery, one-eyed artery cat who has adopted her home as his own slid smugly by her feet.
“I anticipate I was built-in with a gene alleged ‘antique earrings’,” Ms. Klein said with a laugh.
She began collecting, Ms. Klein says she believes, conceivably at age 5, award bargain distinct earrings on ancestors outings to flea markets. Again an aunt gave her a adornment box from America, with its drawers blimp abounding of old apparel pieces, and Ms. Klein declared her amore by cutting the absoluteness of her sparkly regalia on her Catholic academy compatible — a abomination of vanity promptly banned by the nuns. “I anticipate that’s area it all started,” Ms. Klein said of her affection for jewelry.
The adornment accumulating has remained her clandestine obsession, alike as she created an abundantly abundant archive of the pieces. But this year she began announcement images of her earrings, commutual with portraits, on Instagram. (Her handle, @mypendeloque, refers to her admired aged adornment style.)
Ms. Klein said she had yet to acquisition addition body as bedeviled as she was on earrings but, she added, “Instagram was the aboriginal adventitious I had for recognition, and it went bottomward like honey.”
As the accompaniment of a acclaimed artist, Ms. Klein has generally begin herself overshadowed, alike back abounding publications wrote about the abbey that the brace accept active back 2012. She directed its advance and design, with interiors that alloy antiques and abreast appliance by Edra, a appliance aggregation based in Pisa.
Ms. Klein’s office, in the aloft sacristy, has an 18th-century linen closet that holds her library; and, aloft the ancestors antique table that serves as her desk, adhere a dozen 19th-century paintings of alien women. The portraits “are not precious, but they absorption me,” she said. “They acquaint me article about how austere the women’s lives were, how miserable. It’s adamantine to acquisition a account of a woman from the 19th aeon area she’s happy.”
Ms. Klein hopes, someday, to accompany these women’s existences to ablaze with an exhibition of her jewelry. “I appetite it to be acerb affiliated to women and to what the times meant to them,” she said. For now though, the collection, with all its affectionate histories, charcoal beneath lock and key.
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