Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mastery of Design: The LeRoy Coral Bracelet, 1860

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This delicate jewel of marine coral and African gold depicts intricately carved flowers emerging from a woven basket. This sort of naturalistic jewelry became especially popular in the mid-Nineteenth Century, especially in Italy where this bracelet was made. Coral’s softness allowed for easy carving, but it could also be used in its natural form, taking advantage of the appeal of its natural branches in styles reminiscent of those from Asia and Africa.

Most of the coral used in Europe came from the sea near Naples, Italy, and the medium quickly became a favorite symbol of world travel around 1815.

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