Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mastery of Design: Queen Charlotte's Diamond Profile Brooch

Brooch of Gold, Basse-Taille Enamel and Rose-Cut Diamonds
Late Eighteenth-Century, England
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image via The Royal Collection Trust and
Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

A unique and beautiful example of late Eighteenth-Century jewelry-making, this oval gold brooch boasts a left profile relief of Queen Charlotte.  The face of the consort of King George III is worked in diamonds on a royal blue basse-taille ground.

Basse-taille, an enameling technique which was first employed in the late Middle Ages, involves the jeweler creating a low-relief pattern in metal, in this case, gold, by engraving or chasing.  The relief pattern is finished so that the highest point of the relief is always lower than the surrounding metal frame.  Then, a
 translucent enamel, here, blue, is  applied to the metal, allowing light to reflect from the relief.  This creates a natural play of light, almost like water.

The basse-taille technique was revived in the Seventeenth Century and was used well into the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, especially for special custom pieces such as this brooch depicting Her Majesty Queen Charlotte.

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