Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mastery of Design: A Diamond Spray Ornament, 1850

Spray Ornament
Diamonds, Silver, Gold
The Victoria & Albert Museum
With the rise of the Romantic Movement in the Nineteenth Century, Naturalistic jewelry with motifs of fruit, insects and easily-recognizable flowers became quite the fashion. These pieces often took the form of pins and brooches and by the middle of the Nineteenth Century had become quite large and ornate.

This spray ornament made in England in 1830 features hundreds of European Cut and several Rose Cut diamonds set in silver which has been backed in gold. The original ornament consisted of the three uppermost leaves. The blooms—roses and carnations--were added sometime before 1850. In addition to the flowers, the jeweler has added “tremblers.” Here, some of the flowers are mounted on springs so that as the lady moved, the jewels would “tremble” and catch the light.
This ornament was designed to wear on a bodice, but could also be worn in the hair. While the maker is unknown, a similar piece was displayed at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Also featuring “tremblers” and various diamond blooms, the exhibited brooch was created by Hunt & Roskell. 

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