It is believed that the Roma, often referred to as Gypsies** were settled into the shore of America long before the English came. Typically living a nomadic lifestyle, most of their wealth was in the form of gold jewelry, gold coins and gems which could easily be transported and readily converted to cash when needed.
Examples of American Gypsy jewelry are quite scarce and rarely come into the retail market because when a Roma passes all personal possessions (including jewelry) are buried with that individual. The exception is that one and only one ring of a deceased mother is given to the eldest daughter. Moreover, it is a violation of Gypsy principles to sell the possessions of the deceased. Recent finding indicate that when faced with financial hardship it is permitted to sell jewelry but only to non-Roma.
The rare piece, a large open cuff of 14k rose gold is embellished with several traditional symbols. The front features a large horseshoe appliqué pointed in downward with a centered flowerhead displaying a synthetic ruby (in authentic Roma jewelry gems were never natural). This particular example is rather unusual with the employment of a side appliqué of horseshoe with the head of a horse as well as the typical two side flowers.
Most of the Roma lexicon of imagery included the horseshoe, flowerheads and the image of the Gypsy queen. Substantial in size and weight, the cuff is decorated with hand worked engraved designs and patterns.
** The word ‘Gypsy’ is simply a shortened form of the word “Egyptian” as non-Roma believed that is where they had migrated from India. Research now shows this is the case.
Date: First or early second quarter of the 20th century.