The War -

The war years


It was especially during the First World War that one observed the creation of jewels with a particular war theme.  One can perhaps separate them into two categories: jewels made by the soldiers, the so-called bijoux des tranchées or bijoux des poilus and the jewels made by jewellers for a public eager to show their support and affection for the members of their family serving on the front.

Wars are always financed in the long run by the population and World War One was no exception.  Europe was still using the gold standard in 1914 and every banknote was backed by gold.  The French government was therefore unable to simply print banknotes, thus the first step was to extract as much gold as possible from the population before breaking the convertibility of the banknotes.  Vast campaigns encouraging the population to exchange their gold coins for war bonds were run and delightful posters showing gold coins crushing German soldiers or peasants trustingly handing in their gold were pasted across the country.  Once the majority of the gold coins in circulation had been handed in, the government suspended the convertibility of banknotes into gold and inflation began.  Those who had exchanged their gold for paper were thus much less wealthy after the war than those who had held onto their Napoleons, but that was the price of patriotism.  The government used the gold to pay for imports of necessary matériel, as no country was going to accept credit from France between 1914 and 1918.


Patriotic poster 1914-1918
Patriotic poster 1914-1918


The troops in the trenches often had long periods of inactivity, and some whiled away their time by making jewellery, cigarette lighters and other trinkets with pieces of copper, brass or aluminium coming from shells or damaged materiél.  These objects were sent to the family and to some jewellers who sold them on to raise a little pocket money for the soldiers.  Occasionally one finds among the personal belongings of French soldiers trench rings made by the Germans, which proves that both armies had the same pastime!

In the cities the newspapers were filled with encouraging news to boost morale, and often the superiority of the 75mm French canon was vaunted, with the claim that the Germans were awed by its power and accuracy.  A market was thus created for brooches and pendants with a motif of 75mm canons.  Small brooches with an eagle clutching a pearl in its beak or claws, designed by the aviator and painter Henri Farré (1871 - 1934), were popular, as were brooches with a glass facade behind which one could slip a photo of a soldier at the front.




Silver medal given to pigeon fanciers who lent their
pigeons to the government during the siege of Paris 1870 - 1871

click on the photos to enlarge them in high resolution


Ring worn by members of the League of Patriots commemorating the (lost) war of 1871 against the Prussians.  Silver-plated brass



 aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918
 aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918

 aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918

 Aviator brooches, gold, 1914 - 1918




Patriotic medal from 1914-1918 - the French rooster looking towards the constellation of Leo (the English lion)
with the words "Ni vous sans moi - Ni moi sans vous" from the story of Tristan and Isolde (enlarged 200%)





War orphan's medal, World War One, (charming depiction of a buried soldier, "Look, there's Daddy!")



Patriotic watches, 1914 - 1918, copper-nickel



Medal offered by an employer to his employee



Dog-tag, steel and aluminium 

Rosary beads owned by WWI soldier



Trench rings

 trench ring, aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

trench ring, aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

  trench ring, aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

Trench rings in aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918



trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

Trench rings in aluminium, 1914 - 1918

click on the photos to enlarge them in high resolution



Trench ring, copper & aluminium, 1914 - 1918

German trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

Trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918



Manufacture of trench rings by pouring molten aluminium into a tube stuck into a potato



The activites of the soldiers on the front - postcard from WWI - click to enlarge




trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918
trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

Trench rings in aluminium, 1914 - 1918





Ring with WWI soldier,
silver-plated brass, 1914 - 1915

Ring worn by the 4th artillery
regiment of Metz, silvered brass


Ring with Field Marshal Joffre,
silver-plated brass, 1914 - 1918



Trench jewellery - photo locket in aluminium and glass, 1914 - 1918




 75mm artillery crew in front of their cannon



75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1915, gold
75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1915, gold
75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold



75mm cannon brooch, 1914 - 1918, gold



75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold





Pendentif de canon de 75mm, 1914 - 1918, or

Pendentif de canon de 75mm,
1914 - 1918, or

75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold, gold and silver



Silver photo locket with soldier and French Alsatian woman
obverse view

Silver photo locket with motif of 75mm cannon, 1914-1915
reverse view



Gold souvenir medal of the armistice engraved PAX 11 novembre 1918 (150%)


 Gold patriotic medal showing the French rooster on a tank crushing the German eagle....... (enlarged 150%)



Advertisement from 1915 in the l'Illustration magazine for jewellery made from shrapnel by the front line troops.



Photo brooch, 1914 - 1918


1914 - 1915 croix de Lorraine ring, in gold and enamel



Silver Joan of Arc medal, popular during the wars (200%)




New book - Traditional French Jewellery


Book - Traditional French Jewellery - order here direct from the author




Dear collectors, auctioneers, dealers and jewellery lovers,

You have visited the site which for twelve years now has listed all regional and traditional French jewellery, without advertising and without sales.
By popular demand, this website is now finally available as a book, much more complete and with many new photos and texts that are not on the site. I traveled more than 4,500 km in 2020 to visit the various collectors and museums of France and to photograph, weigh, measure and examine their jewellery.

Large format of 23.5 x 30 cm, 304 pages, hardcover and fully illustrated with over 1300 jewels in color, this book is the first complete book on French regional jewellery and corrects the many errors and gaps observed in the other references and presents other regional jewels hitherto unknown to the public. You will find eight full pages on Breton pins and fibulae and many other jewels in museums and private collections that are not on this website. Over four months of research has gone into making the chapter on hallmarks the most reliable ever seen - clear illustrations of hallmarks have been made especially for this volume. And for the first time, collectors will have access to a complete list of all the assay office symbols, small signs withn the hallmarks that identify in which city the jewellery was hallmarked. The opening and closing dates since 1798 of the hallmark offices are also listed for the first time, allowing, with the office symbol, to better date your jewellery.

The print run of this book is very limited, which is why I recommend you order early.  You will love this book I have had nothing but compliments and many clients have ordered more to offer as gifts.

To order, you can send a wire transfer or WISE transfer to Michael Fieggen - FR76 4061 8803 9700 0403 3233 171 – BIC – BOUSFRPPXXX - address Mike Fieggen, 280 rue Saint Honoré, Paris, 75001 France

Bank or wire transfer by in Sterling – Account holder - Michael Fieggen
IBAN - GB68TSBS30916200184462    BIC / SWIFT - TSBSGB2AXXX

Sterling cheques and PayPal welcome to address

Any questions ?  Contact me at or by telephone at + 33 1 4015 9000

One copy in French                               €75                             Postage and packing                  €9 for France, €8 for Europe and overseas

Two or more copies in French              €75 each                    Postage and packing                  €9 for the lot in France, overseas postage €8 each

One or more copies in English             £75 sterling each       Postage and packing                  £8 sterling each





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




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French traditional jewellery - The war years