A. J. Hedges & Co. American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 706

Nineteenth-century Newark, New Jersey, was home to some of America’s most accomplished jewelry manufacturers. Beginning in 1801 with the establishment of the first jewelry production workshop in America, the Newark industry flourished and prospered until its demise with the stock market crash of 1929. The city’s two hundred or more factories manufactured everything from gold collar buttons to diamond brooches, coupling exquisite workmanship with technological innovation and supplying clients worldwide. The industry’s success was bolstered by the introduction of steam-powered machinery to American factories, the discovery of gold in California in 1849, and the growth of the transcontinental railroad, which transported bars of gold directly to Newark from the California mines.

In this unusual design for a link bracelet, the firm of A.J. Hedges & Co. utilized their patented process for mottling yellow, white, red and green gold, a technique inspired by Japanese metalwork. Here the multicolored gold links imitate squares of checked cloth joined together by tiny gold pins. Set with a single diamond and two Montana sapphires, this clever trompe l’oeil conceit becomes a statement of both Aesthetic movement sensibilities and forward-looking modernist taste.

Bracelet, A. J. Hedges & Co. (1877–ca.1965), Gold, diamond, and Montana sapphires, American

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