Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gifts of Grandeur: The Quintessential 1820’s Necklace

French, 1820
Gold, Emerald, Citrine, Sapphire, Garnet, Ruby, Aquamarine, Peridot, Pearls
The Victoria & Albert Museum
 If I could pick one piece of jewelry which I felt best summarized the sensibilities of French jewelers of the 1820’s, it would be this necklace.

It’s a masterpiece of gold cannetille. Cannetille is a close cousin to filigree inasmuch as it also employs thin gold wires or finely hammered sheets of gold to create patterns of scrolls and volutes, and even organic-inspired elements. This type of workmanship reached the peak of its popularity in the 1820’s in France. These pieces were often adorned with pink topaz, aquamarine, amethyst, chrysoberyl and rubies as well as pearls and shells which tied into the overall Rococo-ness of the style.

This necklace very neatly sums up the style. Here we see the beautiful filigree work which defined the look of the era. Set into the sumptuous gold are emeralds, citrines, sapphires, garnets, rubies, aquamarines, peridots and pearls. It couldn’t be a more perfect example if it tried.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m guessing that the earrings depicted in the last photograph were created at a later date—probably the late 1830’s—to match the necklace. The scale is not quite right when compared to the necklace and that leads me to believe they’re not original.

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