Compass Rose Design Jewelry

Modern Heirlooms

Here's a look into our process. We love finding a second life for antiques by creating something that will be treasured and appreciated. Often we come across pieces of such quality that I started setting them aside. We've taken some of our favorite antique buttons and cast them in sterling silver and bronze so we can all enjoy them AND the quality is lasting. Our Modern Heirlooms Jewelry collection combines the history we love with the durability we need in our lives.

Here is one of my favorites, the lovebirds - original, raw sterling silver casting and oxidized casting. 

Work in progress...

Finished Modern Heirloom Jewelry

Written by L.C. Van Houten — January 16, 2017

Moving Forward Together

There are many organizations we respect - too many to count. This is a start. 

Shop now.


Written by L.C. Van Houten — November 18, 2016

Early Bird Holiday Sale

20% off your order with code EARLYBIRD at checkout until 11/13.

Written by L.C. Van Houten — November 08, 2016

How to measure your ring size?

Need help finding the right ring size? Measuring your finger to find the correct ring fit is easy.

How to measure your finger for ring size:

  1. Use a non-elastic string or paper (6" long and 1/4" wide works best) 
  2. Wrap string or paper around the base of your finger. Make sure the fit is snug, but not tight.
  3. Mark the place on the string or paper where it forms a circle.
  4. Compare the length of the string/paper to a ruler in mm. That is your ring size. If you measure between sizes, we recommend the larger size.
ring sizing measuring guide

Measuring tips:

  • Measure when your finger is at a regular body temperature since fingers can expand or shrink when cold or warm. 
  • If your knuckle is larger than your finger’s base, take two separate measurements and choose a size in between. Your ring should slide over your knuckle, but not be overly loose.

 Shop Compass Rose Design Rings:

sterling silver antique button clockwork jewelry

Sterling Silver
and Bronze Rings

steampunk watch rings

Vintage Watch Rings

Antique Button Rings


compass rose design antique button steampunk watch rings

Written by L.C. Van Houten — August 31, 2016

Napoleon, Josephine and the Rose Garden

Everything has a history. Though roses have been cultivated and displayed in China for more than 1,000 years, the popularized Rose Garden has it's origin's in the garden's of Napoleon's Joséphine. Joséphine de Beauharnais.

Born in 1763 on the Island of Martinique, Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, and known as Rose until Napoleon insisted on calling her Joséphine. The portrait shown below was painted on the inside of an 18k gold snuff box by the Imperial goldsmith, circa 1810. 

empress josephine rose garden

While Napoleon was off in Egypt in 1799, Joséphine bought a chateau at Malmaison and had the garden designed in the English style. Taking great interest in the captivatingly fragrant thorny plants, Joséphine brought talented gardeners and scores of rose plants to her chateau. Seeking to aquire every known rose, she enlisted the help of her powerful husband, who had all seized vessels searched for specimens, which were imported back to France. 

The magnificent blooms of the Empress' garden were recorded between 1817 and 1820 in the Les Roses by artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté. You can see them online at the New York Public Library. Upon her death in 1814, Joséphine had collected more than 250 varieties of roses and her plant scouts had introduced another 200 plants to France, including the ever-popular dahlia.

See our Victorian Rose Button Pendant to wear a piece of this history!

antique button Victorian Rose Necklace

Read more about Josephine in this New York Times Article



Written by L.C. Van Houten — July 05, 2016

Chicago 1893 Worlds Fair

The 1893 Columbian Exposition, known as the Chicago World's Fair is known as a turning point in American History. Many products and innovations and products ushered in a new era of modernity in the United States.  Among the wonders introduced at the 1893 Chicago Exposition are the ferris wheel, the zipper, Cream of Wheat, Cracker Jacks, electric elevators, and unfortunately the electric chair. The Fair also allowed attendees a first glance at Edison's kinetoscope and a listen to the world's first voice recording. 

Chicago Worlds Fair 1893

Check out our 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair Keepsake Necklace made from a souvenir watch case opener. 

1893 Chicago Worlds Fair Vintage Medal Necklace

See our World's Fair Jewelry Collection

Read more about our historical inspiration

Written by L.C. Van Houten — March 02, 2016

Celebrating the Post Office

In a world of instantaneous modern correspondence, I think we've forgotten the value of the post. These lines of communication - kept open by letter carriers on foot, horse and later train, plane and automobile - were started in colonial America as far back as 1692. The original logo shows a letter carrier on horseback, doubtless delivering something of vital importance!


The US Mail traces it's roots back to the Second Continental Congress with Postmaster General, Benjamin Franklin. The first postage stamps, which was not introduced until 1847 featured Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.


The invention of parcel post brought a world of goods and services to rural America, making way for the mail order business. In 1914, after 4 year old Charlotte May Pierstorff was mailed from her parents to her grandparents in Idaho, mailing of persons was prohibited. While the train fare was the equivalent of a day's pay, the postal rate for a 49 pound parcel was 53 cents. The box was labeled as a baby chick, though the wee girl just rode with the box in the mail car and was delivered by hand to her grandparents home by letter carrier Leonard Mochel. You can read more about her story in the 1997 children's book, Mailing May. Please note, the photo below is NOT of May and Mr. Mochel, but isn't it perfect!
I love our postman. We send and receive packages all the time - usually tiny ones. Our post man is a big part of my life. His name is Steve. My desk faces the street over the front garden and I see the comings and goings of the neighborhood. I noticed when he was gone. First, for a few days, then it stretched into weeks. Johnny and I have become attuned to the hum of the post man's jeep coming down the street. Weeks passed. Then one day, Johnny called me to let me know he'd spotted Steve coming down the street. I grabbed the baby and ran out to the street and basically flung myself into his arms. Turns out he'd been terribly ill and hospitalized for a month. I joked with Jerry that I needed him to tell me when he retired. "Retire?" he exclaimed, "I've got 17 years left until my 50 year pin and I want to see your kid graduate high school."  These types of community connections can make the world feel like an intimate and knowable place. 
Check out designs made with historic vintage post office buttons:
Cuff Links:
Tie Clip:
vintage post office button tie clip
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Read more about the history of our designs.

Written by L.C. Van Houten — April 10, 2016

The Wunderkammer

Have you heard of a Wunderkammer? A Cabinet of Curiosities? These delightful and quirky collections have their roots in the 17th century. In 1611, an English naturalist and head gardener to the 1st Earl of Salisbury, John Tradescant, was sent to the low countries to collect fruit tree specimens. In 1618, he travelled to the Nikolo-Korelsky Monestary in Arctic Russia, and to the Algiers and the Levant in the 1620s, returning to the Low Countries - this time on behalf of the Duke of Bukingham. He passed through Paris, went to the Île de Ré off the coast of France. Upon his return to England, we has hired as the Keeper of his Majesty's Gardens, Vines and Silkworms at the queens palace in Surrey in 1630.  

On all of his excursions, Tradescant collected natural specimens and curiosities of all sorts, which he housed in an "Ark" in London. He also accumulated objects from the new world through his friend John Smith, explorer and leader of the Virginia Colony. His collection of strange artifacts became the first museum open to the public in England, known was the Musaeum Tradescantianum, and the archetype for the Cabinet of Curiosities. Another famous collection, that of Danish physician and antiquary, Ole Worm, is shown below. 

Another great collector was John Bargrave, who traveled between 1646 and 1660 throughout the European continent - mostly in France, Rome and Naples. collecting oddities and knick knacks. Here is a fantastic illustration from his travel diary. He was later made a canon of Canterbury, and his collection is now on display at the Canterbury Cathedral. There's a fantastic explorable cabinet where you can see his preserved chameleon and a monk's finger!

Part of what is so interesting about this historical moment when obscure collections blossomed throughout Europe - is that these encyclopedic collections of natural and ethnographic objects where still in the process of being categorized and understood as scientific exploration and definition blossomed in Renaissance Europe. Cabinets of curiosities, also known as wonder-rooms, Wunderkammers, kunstkabinett, included objects from natural history, archaeology, religious relics, geology, ethnography and antiques. Collectors particularly loved objects that defied categorization like Dodo birds - birds that didn't fly - or curious medical objects created by new fields of scientific study and classification. Below is the 18th century, Domenico Remps,' Art chamber closet.


The main ingredients of the perfect collection where those which would showcase (literally) the collector's education and learning. Collectors sought to have objects in the following categories: naturalia (products of the natural world), arteficialia (the products of man), scientifica (instruments and objects of the sciences, such as astrolabes, clocks, automatons, and scientific instruments), exotica (collected from distant lands and cultures) and antiquities. Below is Jan Breughels, Sense of Sight, one of his Five Senses paintings, situated in a Cabinet of Curiosities.

Perhaps what is most wonderful, is that these collections are necessarily precious or expensive - they are full of sentiment and history. Curiosities collected on journeys that invoke memories of travel, experiences of the far away smells and tastes of different lands. They are a rather magical expression of human inquisitiveness and our ability to take pleasure in small things and celebrate the stories they tell. 

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Check out our some of our artifacts and keepsakes necklaces:

Shop The Antiquity Collection

Shop Vintage Medals/ Charms

Read about the history behind our designs. 

Written by L.C. Van Houten — March 30, 2016

San Francisco Worlds Fair - 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition

The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal and served as a showcase for San Francisco's recovery from the 1906 earthquake and its emergence as a global city. The fair was built on a 635 acre stretch of land that we now know as the Marina.

The Palace of Fine Arts, past home of the Exploratorium, is the only remaining building complex. 

On display at the fair was the first steam engine purchased by the Southern Pacific Railroad. The Tower of Jewels was covered with 100,000 cut glass gems known as novagems, lit by spotlights at night with stunning effect.

We've collected several souvenir medallions and watch fobs from the PPIE - including this 1915 keepsake welcoming the world to San Francisco.

1915 pan pacific exposition vintage medal necklace


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See our entire Worlds Fair Collection 

Written by L.C. Van Houten — June 06, 2015