North / Pas-de-Calais

 

French regional jewellery
Northern coastal (Pas-de-Calais) region

 

BIJOUX REGIONAUX ANCIENS - BIJOU REGIONAL



finely worked Boulogne cross, gold and filigree work

 

Earrings - ear-pendants


Milanos ear pendants, gold, northern coastal region


Milanos ear pendants, gold

 

 

The region between Boulogne sur Mer and Calais is very rich in regional jewellery.  The fishermen had an extrememly dangerous job, compensated for by incomes a good deal higher than most other trades and they liked to show off their success and their membership of a rather closed community.  The traditional ensemble of a fisherman's wife consisted of a pair of long ear pendants called Milanos,pardon cross in gold filigree, a love knot or a Lisbonne ring and a long neck chain called sorcière with a large catch in the shape of a barrel.

The Milanos ear pendants take their name from the idea that they are made of a thousand rings, mille anneaux even though they have less than a dozen segments.  The segments are articulated and very light and give a lovely effect with the movement of the wearer.  They have always been expensive which explains why some women wore a pair of ear pendants which were made of two metal shells stamped with a Milano design and soldered together (shown on the right). They were generally made in gold plate and can look like the real thing from a distance.  Today some jewellers in the north of France sell ear pendants that they call Milanos however their shape is not quite the same as the real Milanos and they are quite crudely made.

Also popular were long ear-pendants called "Les Monstrueuses" as well as others in the shape of a bunch of grapes, acorns or spheres, in gold, very difficult to find nowadays.  The only pair with the grapes motif that I ever managed to buy is now in the MuCEM museum.



ear pendants from
Boulogne sur Mer

 

 

Bijoux boulonnais re


small gold and glass ear pendants from
Le Courgain (the fishing port of Calais)


 


small gold and enamel ear pendants from
Le Courgain (the fishing port of Calais)


 



small gold and turquoise ear pendants from
Le Courgain (the fishing port of Calais)

 



a very rare pair of "bunch of grapes" ear pendants from Courgain in gold
(the small sleeper earrings from which they would have been suspended are missing.  Most women had only one pair or sleepers which were worn permanently and several pair of larger pendants to suspend from the sleepers as the occasion demanded)

Bijoux boulonnais re


gold and turquoise ear pendants from
Le Courgain (the fishing port of Calais)


gold and turquoise ear pendants from
Le Courgain (the fishing port of Calais)


rare pair of ear pendants from
Le Courgain in gold and filigree

 

Don't forget to click on the photos to see them in higher resolution!

 


long ear pendants like those shown above

 

 

 


large ear pendants called "Les cloches d'or" or "Les Monstreuses"

 

 


Carole Bouquet, a French actress wearing Milanos ear pendants

 

 


silver ear pendants from the Boulogne region

 

 

Sorcière chain

An integral part of the regional costume of the women of the Northern coast was the "sorcière" chain.  Very long and made in different links and weights according to the means of the buyer, it was closed with a barrel-shaped catch.


Catch of a sorcière chain in gold

 

 

Rings



The traditional wedding ring in the North of France was the "Turquoise" ring, set with one or more lines of small turquoises.  The traditional  love-knot and Lisbonne rings are still very popular in the region today, many women wear them and they sell well in the local shops.  Unfortunately most of those sold today are copies of copies of copies, made by casting rather than assembly and the fine workmanship is no longer there.

 


"Turquoise" ring in gold set with blue glass imitating turquoises and seed pearls (some missing)

 

 


love-knot ring, silver

 

love-knot ring, gold

 


love-knot ring, silver

 

 

 

 

 


 


snake ring in gold, diamonds & rubies,
particularly popular in the north of France and Normandy


snake ring in gold,
diamonds & rubies




snake ring in gold and sapphire,
particularly popular in the north of France and Normandy
 

 

 

 

 
Lisbonne ring in gold,
  regional jewellery from northern France

Lisbonne ring in gold,
  regional jewellery from northern France

 

The capelet rings, with their motifs of faith, hope and charity (the cross, anchor and heart respectively), were worn by the fishermen as well as by their wives. The oldest ones are found with ten small spheres soldered onto the shank, which served to count the prayers said at night.  The name capelet comes from the fact that these rings were in effect used as truncated rosary beads, "chapelets" in French.  In silver or brass they were often given to the children who accompanied their parents to the jewellers, an expedition called "aller aux dorlots", whilst the jeweller himself was known as the "dorlotier".  According to Lionel Bonnemère (1), these Capelet rings were offered to girls for their first holy communion throughout France; however one tends to come across them more often in the north of France.

 


capelet ring in gold and enamel
 
capelet ring in gold and enamel
 
gold capelet ring
(note the numerous repairs)

 

 


capelet ring in gold

 

The three pansy brooch

 

Traditionaly worn in the north of France, the three pansys brooch represents a thought for the past, a thought for the present and a thought for the future.  (Pansy in French is pensée, which is a synonyme for "thought" or "think". )

 


Three pansy brooch from the north of France, gold and enamel

 

 

The Boulogne cross


The Boulogne cross or pardon cross has a filigree decoration around the crucifix which suggests the ropes of the fishing boats.  These crosses were mainly worn around the Portel region, a fishing area of Boulogne-su-Mer, where they are distinguished by the scallop shells designs at the extremities of the cross.  The crosses from the Calais region are similar, the only difference being that they have little flat gold pearls at the extremities called grelots

It is often said that that the fashion for filigree jewellery was imported from Spain which occupied the region in the 17th century, however jewellery was very rare at that time and one finds no French regional jewellery with filigree from the 17th century.  It is more likely that the techniques of filigree were adopted by the local jewellers after seeing or being asked to copy jewels brought back by sailors or fishermen after stopovers in the gulf of Gascony.  The technique of filigree used is not difficult in fact, one only needs to twist two gold wires together, pass them through a roller to flatten them a bit, wind them into a design and then fix the design with a few spots of solder.  The older pardon crosses have three pendants, by about 1820 the crosses evolved by having only one pendant.  An example in the collection of the MuCEM at Marseille, inventory number 1991.24.1 which is dated to between 1809 and 1819 still has three pendants.  Crosses with three pendants are very hard to find today.

 

 

                   
18th century Portel or pardon cross, gold
Note the three pendants, representing the tears of Christ


  cross from Le Portel or pardon cross, gold-plated brass in its original box

 

 

 


  cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Calais
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Calais
or pardon cross, gold

 

 


  cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Calais
or pardon cross, gold

 

 


cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Boulogne sur Mer
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Boulogne sur Mer
(modern) or pardon cross, gold

 

  


cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold


cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold


cross from Calais
or pardon cross, gold

 

  


  cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, silver gilt
  
cross from Le Portel
or pardon cross, gold

cross from Calais
or pardon cross, gold

 

 

 

 

 


 pardon cross in plated gold

 

 

 

There is an interesting early variety of the pardon cross, examples of which are found exclusively in Belgium, though they are sometimes marked with French hallmarks.  The reason is that some of them were made in Belgium during the time it was occupied by France between 1793 and 1815.

 

         
Two Belgian pardon crosses in gold with French rooster's head hallmarks on one, Belgian hallmark from 1770 on the other

Bijoux boulonnais regional

 

Flemish papillon (butterfly) cross

 

These papillon (butterfly) crosses, though made in Belgium, were also worn in the north of France and even in Normandy.  (It's worth bearing in mind that Belgium was a province of France between 1793 and 1815)  In Belgium they are known as "croix à la Jeannette", however I have yet to come across one in France with legible hallmarks which would help in determining their exact region of production.  They are made in silver set with rose cut diamonds and backed with a thin coating of gold to prevent the silver from blackening one's clothes.  Their design is in fact quite different from the provençale papillon crosses, though many people confuse them with the latter.


  papillon cross, c1800-1840
  in gold, silver & diamonds

papillon cross, c1800-1840
 in gold, silver & diamonds

    papillon cross
  in gold, silver & diamond
s

  

 

Vlaamse Hart pendant

 

Vlaamse Hart pendants originated in Antwerp at the end of the eighteenth century and are made in gold-backed silver set with rose-cut diamonds.  The majority were produced between 1780 and 1850.   Examination of the 38 examples in the treasury of the Antwerp churches reveals that 10 have no hallmarks, 6 were made in southern Belgium during the Dutch rule, 14 in Mechelen, 7 in Antwerp and one in Ghent.  The name Vlaamse hart translates to “Flemish heart” and they represent the heart of Mary.  There are two types of Vlaamse hart pendants; one has a simple wreath set above the lower half, see left-hand photo, while the other, which was offered as a love token, is crowned with a bow and a quiver, a flaming torch and some foliage.  They were worn sometimes in the north of France and I have come across several in Normandy as well.   1

 

 

 


"Vlaamse hart" pendant in gold-backed silver and diamonds
 
"Vlaamse hart" pendant in gold-backed silver and diamonds

 
 
"Vlaamse hart" pendant in gold-backed silver and diamonds
(central diamond missing)

 

 

Belt clip for scissors from the north of France

 

              
Silver belt clip for hanging scissors, 18th century with Lille hallmark

 

         

The coal miners in the north of France were particularly fond of these steel cases which they used to protect their silver pocket watches
from damage while working.  While not strictly speaking regional jewellery, 95% of these watches were offered to me in the north of France. 
This particular example has been painted with phosphorescent paint so that the time can be determined in the dark.

 

 

 


  French folk costume with very long
ear pendants and soleil coiffe - Boulogne-sur-Mer - antique photo

 

 


  French folk costume with very long
ear pendants and soleil coiffe - Pas de Calais region - antique photo

 

 

 


  French folk costume with very long ear pendants
and soleil coiffe - Pas de Calais region - antique postcard

 

 

 


  French folk costume with very long Milanos
ear pendants and soleil coiffe - Pas de Calais region - antique photo

 

 

 

 

 


  French folk costume from Boulogne-sur-Mer with very long
ear pendants and soleil coiffe - Pas de Calais region - antique postcard

 


 


French folk-costume from Le Portel, Pas de Calais region
showing "le Toquet" coiffe, sorcière chain and Milanos ear-pendants.
One can see at her throat the traditionel three pansy brooch.  The word for pansy in French, "pensée", is synonyme with "think"
and the brooch represents "think of the past, think of the present and think of the future".

 

 

 

/ckfinder/userfiles/images/grands/cpa-costume-regional-bijou-equihen.jpg
French folk-costume from Equihen, Pas de Calais region
showing sun coiffe, sorcière chain and "Monstreuses" ear-pendants

 

 

/ckfinder/userfiles/images/grands/cpa-costume-regional-bijou-equihen.jpg
French folk-costume from Etaples, Pas de Calais region
showing sun coiffe, sorcière chain and "grape" ear-pendants

 

 

 


French regional jewellery, 'Milanos' ear pendants
and 'sorcière' chain, Pas de Calais region

 
 

 


French regional jewellery, 'Milanos' ear pendants
and 'sorcière' chain, Pas de Calais region

 

 


French regional jewelry, 'Milanos' ear pendants
and 'sorcière' chain, Pas de Calais region

 

 


French regional jewelry, 'Milanos' ear pendants
and 'sorcière' chain, Pas de Calais region

 

 


French regional jewellery, 'Milanos' ear pendants
and 'sorcière' chain, Pas de Calais region

 

 


  French folk dress with Milanos ear pendants,
long neck chain with pardon cross,  Pas de Calais region

 

 


Antique photo of woman in Boulogne-sur-Mer wearing the traditional pansy brooch,
Milanos ear pendants, sorcière chain with pardon cross and the sun coiffe.

 

 

 


  French folk dress with Milanos ear pendants,
long neck chain with pardon cross,  Pas de Calais region

 

 


fisherman's wife with sorcière chain, pardon cross and Milanos ear pendants

 

 

1: Uit de sacristie - Textiel en juwelen in kerkelijk bezit in de provincie Antwerpen, Provincial Museum voor Kunstambachten Sterkshof, 1985   

 

Contact me with your suggestions, corrections, questions and comments!

 

1.   Lionel Bonnemere, 1843-1905, Playwright, lawyer, collector of folklore and traditional jewellery, the donation of his extensive collection formed the basis of the fledgling Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires in Paris

 

contentrs: 
 

croix de Boulogne - boucles d'oreilles Milanos - pendants d'oreilles Milanos - bague Lisbonne - bague noeud d'amour - chaine sorcière - croix de pardon - bijoux boulonnais - coiffe soleil - costume de matelotte - bague capelet - croix de Champagne - croix d'Alsace - broche alsacienne - croix de Lorraine - bijoux des régions de France - les bijoux des Français - les  bijoux de France - bijoux régionaux - bijou régional - croix écotée - pendentif Saint Esprit - Saint Esprit d'Aurillac - rose de Velay - collier d'esclavage - croix de Puy en Velay  - croix d'Auvergne - bijoux d'Auvergne - bijoux auvergnat - collier Saint Esprit de Puy en Velay - croix de Velay - bijoux d'Auvergne et du Velay - costume regional - bijoux régionaux - coiffe  - coiffe auvergnat - bijoux des régions de France - bijoux régionaux - les bijoux traditionnels Français - croix régionales - Léon Giron - Antoine Raspal - Thomas Desgeorge - Estella Canziani - esclavage auvergnat - French regional jewellery – jewelry - French traditional jewellery – jewelry - French folk-dress - French folk costumes - antique French jewellery - les bijoux de France - les bijoux des Français - Vlaamse hart- antieke zeeuwse streeksieraden in Friesland - Streeksieraden en Zeeland - Vlaamse Hart - Brabantse klederdrachten en streeksieraden

 

BIJOUX REGIONAUX ANCIENS - BIJOU REGIONAL

 

French regional jewellery
Northern coastal (Pas-de-Calais) region