Antique French shoe buckles, Edwardian era shoe buckles, cut steel shoe buckles for period costumes, vintage shoe buckles, period fashion


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Antique French shoe buckles, Edwardian era shoe buckles, cut steel shoe buckles for period costumes, vintage shoe buckles, period fashion.

Width 2 1/2″ (6.3 cm), 2 1/8″ (5.2 cm) tall.

Wonderful antique French shoe buckles, made from cut steel, with the original paper label, marked Made in France, dating to the Edwardian era.

Despite some misconceiving the technique as mere imitation of fine gemstones, cut steel jewellery was exceptionally fashionable, expertly made and highly prized throughout the Georgian and Victorian periods.
Each individually faceted bead of these wonderful buckles captures and reflects the light exquisitely. Just imagine how dazzling the effect by candlelight!
Cut-steel jewelry is jewelry “set” with tiny faceted and polished steel studs, fashioned to resemble gemstones and usually riveted in place. All manner of jewelry was produced from cut-steel: earrings, necklaces, brooches, bracelets, chatelaines, shoe buckles, indeed, even entire parures. In addition, cut-steel frames were popular settings for cameos. Cut-steel’s unique attribute lies in the fact that it was the only fine jewelry imitation in which both gemstone substitutes and their settings were made of the same material; most other faux jewels were composed separately of faux gems and metal settings. One such faux material is marcasite, an extremely popular diamond substitute with a metallic luster. Cut-steel has a distinct similarity to marcasite, in fact, examining the reverse of a piece is sometimes necessary to distinguish between the two. This resemblance could help account for cut steel’s long standing appeal.


Cut-steel jewelry was produced as far back as the Elizabethan period in England, but developed into a serious concern in the 1700s as demand for the product grew. Becoming fashionable in France circa 1759, cut-steel jewelry was worn as a substitute for donated (or hidden) jewelry when French King Louis XV ‘requested’ that citizens donate their precious gems and jewelry to help fund his military campaigns during the ‘Seven Years War’. The French spurred the English manufacturers in Woodstock and Birmingham with their overwhelming demand for the product.

Not an easy product to manufacture, the studs had to be faceted, polished and riveted in place. Early studs were often produced with as many as fifteen facets making them particularly bright and sparkling. The technique used to create the facets is called chip carving, an ancient technique which traditionally was used on bone and wood. The studs were small and very densely compacted in pavé designs onto a supporting base plate. Sometimes a secondary supportive base plate was added making the finished piece quite weighty. Early pieces consisted of mainly functional items such as buckles and decorative motifs for swords. Eventually, this expanded to include every type of jewelry.

Sumptuary laws in France and Switzerland regulated who could wear diamonds and precious metals. Cut-steel provided a stylish and popular new jewelry material that could be enjoyed by everyone at all levels of society. This expanded market resulted in exports from England to all of Europe and America.

Eventually, the profitability of cut-steel and the great demand for it in France caused the French to create their own local cut-steel workshops. Originally the industry was run by a British entrepreneur named Sykes who started up a cut-steel jewelry business in Paris c.1780. By the eighteenth century, the cut-steel business was big enough to be embraced by French manufacturers and demand for it often made it more valuable than gold. The French Revolution curtailed the English trade with France and therefore the demand for cut-steel jewelry exports from Britain. After the revolution, the French workshops were handling the domestic demand without the need for imported British goods.

Cut-steel remained popular until the late nineteenth century. By this time the original fifteen facets per stud had been reduced to only five facets. Mass manufacturing began to produce whole ribbons of studs by stamping them out by machine instead of faceting them individually and riveting them in place. Quality began to deteriorate and demand began to fall. The Victorian pieces had nowhere near the quality or beauty of the earlier work. Unfortunately, as a result of steel’s high corrosion factor, not many pieces have survived.

Lovely antique shoes buckles, perfect of course for period costumes, Downton Abbey style!

Good antique conditions, the antique shoe buckles have no missing pieces and no rust.

The product has imperfections or a patina due to its age, as can be seen in the photos. Please take a close look at the pictures before making your purchase!

If you need more photos or have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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