When we discovered a brass medallion showing a horse head within an ornamental border in a favorite antique haunt (sourcing fun finds for our original jewelry line Elva Fields) our curiosity drove us to wonder about the story behind the golden emblem.
With origins in ancient civilizations, horse brasses, as the medallions are called, had their heyday in 19th-century England, when one's horse was one's greatest asset, providing transportation, a source of income and sustenance as they plowed fields and harvested crops. Great lengths were taken to ensure a horse's health and success, and the brasses, while decorative, also featured amuletic symbols of fortune and protection, such as crescents, horseshoes, hearts, and fleur-de-lis among many others, and were threaded through the leather strap of the horse's harness known as the martingale.
Named for the designer, Emily Wheat Maynard, and the horse bridle the charms adorn, E.W. Martingale takes inspiration from antique horse brasses and renders them heirloom-worthy necklaces with the help of a talented local metalsmith who shares a passion for fine workmanship and beautiful details. Conceived, created, and crafted entirely in Kentucky--where a love of all things equestrian is unrivaled, agriculture is vital, and folklore ingrained in the culture--each pendant starts with a combination of sketches and found vintage elements, culled from a rich catalogue of known historical designs, and is then cast in sterling silver, shaped and finished by hand, and plated in 14 karat gold to emulate their original brass composition. Suspended from a simple 14 karat gold filled chain, the necklaces blend the best of tradition, superstition, and style--as only the South can.