Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Ralli Portrait Miniature Bracelet, 1850

Bracelet with Portrait Miniatures
French, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

When Her Serene Highness Princess Mary of Teck married her cousin, Prince George of Wales, she had already become a favorite of her husband’s grandmother, Queen Victoria (or, as Queen Mary called her, “Aunt Vicky.”) The two women shared a passion for jewelry and spent much time talking about their favorite jewelers and gems.

Queen Victoria’s love for jewelry contributed to an increase in business for both English and French jewelers as members of London Society tried to win the favor of the reclusive Queen by adorning themselves with the best jewels.

Victoria, and her granddaughter-in-law both favored R. & S. Garrard as a jeweler. However, they would often find beautiful items created by Parisian jewelers. One of these was Pierre-Jules, Chaise.

Here’s an example of the work of Chaise from about 1850. This bracelet of enamelled gold, rose and brilliant-cut diamonds, and painted ivory backed by mother of pearl, feautres alternative central pieces. One is a miniature portrait of Mr. Pandeli Ralli, the other shows his wife—for whom the bracelet was made. When one miniature was set in the bracelet, the other could be worn as a brooch. The bracelet shows the maker's mark: "JC" aboce the symbol of a bird.

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