Thursday, March 18, 2010

They’re Baaaack! Orange Blossoms, Romance and Brides

I know that many of you have been faced with an unusual amount of snow, ice and flood-producing rains this past winter and I certainly feel your pain! Arizona is the one state that is usually out-of-step with the rest of the nation regarding both weather and Daylight Savings Time. While everyone else is slogging through nature’s fury - our weather is fairly mild during the harshest of winter months. And then, there is the issue of Daylight Savings Time – we are the only state that does not “Spring Forward” nor “Fall Back” with everyone else. Don’t ask me why because I have no idea. I can only imagine some “rogue cowboy” legislator suggesting that we do not need to be in step with everyone else. After all, this is probably one of a few states that you might encounter a sign on an antique store door requiring that all firearms must be checked at the desk (somehow a snake slithering out from behind a Chippendale table does seem rather remote)! Yikes!!

Our weather the past week has pushed up to the low 80’s and this is my favorite time of the year – not too cold – not too hot – just right. Part of my delight in the Arizona March weather is the citrus trees. Yes. . . they’re baaaack! That profoundly intoxicating aroma of the orange blossoms has just started to waft through the back yard. I posted about that delicious time of year two years ago in this posting.

Pearly white orange blossoms have long been associated with brides and for good reasons. According to Cornelia Powell, “Incorporating orange blossoms into the bride's costume originated in ancient China where they were emblems of purity, chastity and innocence. There are few trees so prolific as the orange; it is one of the rare plants that blooms and bears fruit at the same time, thus becoming symbolic of fruitfulness. During the time of the Crusades, the custom was brought from the East first to Spain, then to France , then to England in the early 1800's. By then, many enchanting legends had spread throughout the continent of maidens entwining fresh orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair. The influence became so indoctrinated into the culture that the phrase "to gather orange blossoms" took the meaning “to seek a wife”.

via Whimsical Whites

When real orange blossoms were in short supply or in northern climates where citrus fruits did not flourish, wax replicas were used instead. However, reports in society newspapers of some extravagant Victorian weddings would specify "real orange blossoms" were used and the effusive accounts of the nuptials told of lush scents wafting through the air! These exquisite folkloric flowers, either genuine fresh blossoms or wax replicas, continued to be used to "fulfill the demands of tradition" well into the 1950s. The wax reproductions so prized during the Victorian era have become extremely precious today. Whether it is an entire vintage wax flower wreath that has been restored to wear again or some individual flowers saved to nestle into a newly made headpiece, these charming wax replica orange blossoms are being treasured again, and being used for their uniqueness, beauty and sentiment.”

As a jewelry designer, this is also the time of year when I begin to get requests from brides for new wedding jewelry designs for both themselves and their bridesmaids. It is always such a delight to work with brides to develop a design that will compliment their dresses and those of their wedding party. So far. . .no Bridezillas – just lovely young women looking for something unique and tasteful. I think I enjoy the design process with them so much because I only had one son – so, no weddings to plan.

Orange Blossom Necklace (Flora Collection)

Orange Blossom Earrings

My most recent bridal designs were inspired by the perfumed fragrance of those orange trees in the back yard and are aptly named Orange Blossom Necklace (Flora Collection) and Orange Blossom Earrings. Both designs consist of creamy ivory freshwater pearls coupled with very generous and crystal-clear rock crystal briolettes.

via Theodore and Company
via The Lennox Zimichost

via Modern Interior Design Decoration

via Whimsey by Victoria
via Tim Walker
In keeping with the romance of white orange blossoms and brides I am including some of my favorite white rooms. Perhaps not too practical, but certainly romantic and dreamy.


Karena said...

Karen, what to do?! I love the flora orange blossom necklace....Let's talk!

Art by Karena

Anonymous said...

As always, Karen, all of your images and creations are breath taking! Just what I needed to see this morning!

Lezli Goodwin said...

Beautiful, Karen, as always! I'd love to feature your blog in the Bead World blog, with your permission, of course. Let me know what you think!