Gold, Seed Pearls
English, c. 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The visual motif of grapes and vines has been utilized in jewelry-making since antiquity. However, the idea saw a revival during the Victorian era when the fashion for sets of seed pearl jewelry gave jewelers the perfect “canvas” for grape-like forms.
This English example, made around 1850, is the necklace from one of the most complex, elaborate and intricately-made grape parures that I’ve ever seen. The construction of the piece is exceptional. The pearls are attached with horsehair and silk to an elaborate framework made of gold wires. The varicolored gold gives an unusual depth and sense of naturalism to the suite.