Once there was a wealthy Mandarin, who had a beautiful daughter (Koong-se). She had fallen in love with her father's humble accounting assistant (Chang), angering her father. He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride, bearing a box of jewels as a gift. The wedding was to take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree.
On the eve of the daughter's wedding to the Duke, the young accountant, disguised as a servant, slipped into the palace unnoticed. As the lovers escaped with the jewels, the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin, whip in hand. They eventually escaped on the Duke's ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. But one day, the Duke learned of their refuge. Hungry for revenge, he sent soldiers, who captured the lovers and put them to death. The gods, moved by their plight, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves.
The Chinese fable of an eloping couple transforming into doves became one the most identifiable design elements of 18th and 19th century crockery, known as the Willow Pattern. The Willow Pattern was designed in 1780 by Minton and intended to add a touch of Oriental magic to earthernware. Unfortunately for true romantics, the story of the lovers is English in origin, and has no links to China. Many manufacturers at the time produced their own version of the Willow Pattern.
Sampson Bridgwood & Son first manufactured earthenware in 1795, in the heart of the world famous Longton Potteries in Stoke-on-Trent. In 1818 the company produced their first ‘Blue Willow’ patterned china, which is still in production today.
Bridgewood and Sons continued to grow and expand, and the group was renamed Churchill in 1984.
The plate from which these earrings are crafted is from an undated, but relatively modern, production of the Blue Willow china.
As with all Goosehouse Designs jewellery, these unique earrings are individually handcrafted by me in my studio.
The silver in these earrings is sterling silver, and is stamped with the .925 stamp.
The hooks are sterling silver.
These earrings measure 15mm across and 5mm deep.
Churchill 'Blue and white Willow Pattern' small round earrings
The vintage china I use in my jewellery pieces is all recycled from pieces found at garage sales and op. shops, or through vintage dealers, who are happy to pass on some of their less-than-perfect items. I carefully cut out the selected section of china, shape it by hand, then grind the edges nice and smooth. I securely fix the piece into the sterling silver blank, then grout it so it stays firmly in place.
As with all artisan jewellery, some care needs to be taken to keep your piece in as-new condition.
The vintage china in your piece may well be up to a hundred years old, and needs to be treated accordingly. It is not recommended that you swim or shower whilst wearing your jewellery, nor that you wear it gardening or playing sport or any other activity where the item may get badly knocked. China is breakable, after all.
The sterling silver ring and earring hooks are easily adjustable, but care must be taken not to bend them too quickly or too sharply. As with all metals, if they are worked roughly they may break.
The sterling silver bezel will enjoy a regular simple polish with a quality silvercloth. If you do use silver polish, do not get it on the china or the grout. Do not use strong chemicals on your jewellery.