If you’re a part of the antique jewelry Instagram community in any way, you’ve already seen an Augis medaille d’amour.
They’re graphic and memorable, with their rich yellow gold and gemstone and/or diamond embellishments. They’re also highly collectible, as an appealing piece of jewelry that exists in countless slightly different variations of a similar motif. (Image source.)
Some of you may already know what the Augis medaille d’amour’s symbols mean, but do you know the history of the quote?
The Augis medaille d’amour reads “plus qu’hier, moins que demain.” This French phrase translates to “more than yesterday, less than tomorrow.” (Image source.) The phrase is a reference to a 19th century love poem that French poet and playwright Rosemonde Gérard wrote to her husband, Edmond Rostand:
Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t’aime davantage,
Aujourd’hui plus qu’hier et bien moins que demain.
(For, you see, each day I love you more,
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.)”
(Fun fact: Rosemonde Gérard’s husband, Edmund, is the author of Cyrano de Bergerac).
In 1907, Alphonse Augis, a jeweler in Lyons, was inspired to take this line of the poem and create his signature Médaille d’Amour.
The design varies but generally features the quote from the poem with the “more than” and “less than” represented by a plus and minus sign, often embellished with gems, traditionally rubies. (Image source.)
This photo from Metier SF shows a variety of Augis medaille d’amour designs.
I think part of the reason these charms are so collectible is that we jewelry lovers can’t resist the idea of something that is generally standardized but comes in some unique variations. We love trying to find the most special one of something, or to collect similar but different versions of a thing. My budget is the only reason I don’t own every charm in this post.
This incredible piece is a charm necklace featuring seven(!!) individual Augis charms. This beauty was sold by Robin Katz vintage through 1stdibs, and I’ve had it bookmarked forever because #collectiongoals.
You’ll notice some variation in the charms on this necklace: each of these are what I’d consider an exceptional example, with extra embellishment from what I think of as the base model Augis (the gold circle with a few rubies and maybe a diamond).
This exceptional beauty is available from Fox and Bond. I love this variation, with the richly embellished gold edge. It feels so luxe.
As a writer married to an economist, the idea of a love poem coded into mathematical symbols feels especially appropriate for my own love story…which is why I added an Augis charm to my own jewelry collection recently.
Mine (above) is itty bitty, but still attracts attention whenever I wear it.
A truly unusual, exceptionally beautiful sapphire example from the personal collection of Angela (aka Gemstone Gypsy).
This trio of love charms is from The Eden Collective. Two are Augis charms – one quite unusual – and the third is a totally unrelated but super cool other charm.
Both Erin Antique and Metier SF have a special knack for finding these beauties. My own is from Erin Antiques. I bought it from my phone, while stuck in traffic (I wasn’t driving). That’s how quickly these are snapped up once they’re posted on Instagram.
These are from Elizabeth’s Bespoke Treasures, another dealer who has the gift for tracking down these babies.
If you look closely at most of these these, you can see the maker’s marks: “A. Augis.” If you see one of these beauties out in the world, check to see if you can find a maker’s mark for Augis – they’re often on the front like these are, near the raised edge of the circle.
This one, from Samantha Knight, has been converted into a ring! Pretty awesome.
While Augis charms are a familiar kind of piece, they’re not especially ubiquitous in the market: if you look at a lot of antique jewelry you’ll see one every once in a while, but Instagram’s love for them is keeping prices high right now.
An ad for Augis medaille d’amour from a periodical published in 1950.
If you find an Augis charm – especially an unusual one – at a good price, definitely snap it up. I found very few for sale online: a couple with dealers I know, and a few on French eBay. I’ve been rounding up pictures for a while so that I’d have a nice variety to show you.
Here’s a slideshow of alllll of the photos I found. Click to enlarge and for image credit. Warning: it’s going to make you wanna catch ’em all.
To feed my obsession, I’ve created a Pinterest board dedicated to the many forms of the Augis medaille d’amour. It’s still under construction, but you can follow along here.