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Gold Quartz Jewelry

by James H. Nottage, Eiteljorg chief curatorial officer | May 13, 2015
_MG_5865
Brooch, 1860s

Loan courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin
Photography by Hadley Fruits

Fine jewelers, along with gold- and silversmiths, were among the citizens who made up the new populations of gold rush California. Many of those who found wealth showed it off with watch chains, brooches, and other jewelry made with sections of gold-rich quartz. A number of firms rose to prominence by making this unique form of jewelry in San Francisco. They included J. W. Tucker & Co.; George Shreve & Co.; Barrett & Sherwood; and Braverman & Levy. Supposedly, even President Abraham Lincoln had an example of gold quartz jewelry. An elegant purse made of panels of gold and gold quartz, remarkable boxes, and even a model of the Parthenon were created for the wealthiest of clients. Watch fobs and brooches were often designed to hold loved ones’ pictures or locks of hair.

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Watch and Chain, 1860s
Watch by American Waltham
Gold quartz, gold, enameled face
Loan courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin
Photography by Hadley Fruits

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