Dogwood earrings




Earrings, original screwsystem

Newark, USA

Approximately 1920

A. J. Hedges & Co.

585/1000 gold 14 ct enamel, natural pearl

26,2 x 21,7 mm

12,2 grams



In the later decades of the 19th century, Newark, New Jersey, was considered to be the USA capital of jewellery.
The growing wealth of the new middle-class in America created a demand for affordable and wearable items. 

The Newark group of manufacturers, which numbered 200 at its peak, was producing 90% of America’s gold jewellery. The majority of pieces were made in 14 carat gold, embellished by skillfully applied polychrome enamels with only occasional gemstone accents.


A well-known firm was A. ]. Hedges & Co., still located in Newark at 14 John St.
A quote from February 5, 1919:

The firm traces its history back to 1866, at which time the business was founded by David C. Dodd and Andrew ]. Hedges. At that time the location of the firm was at 9 Maiden Lane. The business continued under the style of Dodd & Hedges until Jan. I, 1877, at which time Mr. Hedges obtained control of the business. The firm name was changed to A. J. Hedges & Co., Mr. Hedges having associated with him in the business his brother Wallace M. Hedges and John Obrig. About 1880 the business was moved to 6 Maiden Lane. Mr. Obrig retired from the firm about 1900 and two years later Mr. Hedges died. Following the death of his father, A. J. Hedges, Jr. came into the firm and associated with him W. M. Kaas, who was formerly employed by the old concern. The business was continued under the same style at 14 John St. Mr. Kaas died in 1916 and since that time A. J. Hedges has continued the business alone. The house makes a line of fine gold jewelry.

You can read more about the Newark group in this Dupuis article Newark. The Jewelers’ Circular-Weekly, Volume 78, Issue 1

Dogwood is the common name for a genus of trees and shrubs since 1614. This species has been beneficial in the past as a dye and as a substitute for quinine and tea made from the bark was applied to treat pain or fever for generations.  The name dogwood comes from Dagwood, as the dense hardwood from the stems was used for daggers, arrows and tool handles. Whippletree, an element of the traction of a horse-drawn cart, was also made from the wood and it explains why this earlier name for the tree was used in The Canterbury Tales.

The showy part of the dogwood appears to be the four distinct petals of a blossom, but actually, these are bracts, modified leaves. The tightly packed cluster in the centre form the real blooms. A Christian legend explains that the ‘flower’ owes its shape to the use of dogwood for the crucifixion of Jesus. To end the misuse of this tree for the construction of crosses, Jesus shortened it and twisted its branches. He transformed its inflorescence into a representation of the cross with four petal-like bracts, each bearing a mark as of a nail.

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