Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Dame Joan Evans Swiss Topaz Necklace, 1835

Switzerland, c. 1835
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Beginning in the 1830s, the jewelry trade saw a greater consumer demand as more people were able to afford gems and jewels. Traditional techniques such as casting, chasing and engraving were still employed in the most high-end pieces, however, into the 1850s, newer industrial methods were used to make less expensive products for a growing mass market.

Here, we see a piece made for the mass market using machines.  This necklace was created by pressing the gold into the required shape using a die-stamping machine.  The flatted gold was rolled a machine into a very thin sheet which could be stamped to make multiple standard components. Even the collets were stamped on—allowing the setting of gemstones to be completed quicker.

After being assembled from pre-made pieces, the gold was enameled and set with pink-foiled topazes.
  This necklace was made in Switzerland between 1835 and 1840.  It was once part of the impressive collection of jewels amassed by Dame Joan Evans.

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