Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Nichols Paste Necklace, 1810

Paste Necklace set in Gold-Backed Silver
England, 1810
The Victoria & Albert Museum

With a design of leaves and stylized flower heads, this shimmering necklace is the height of 1810 style. As far as anyone can tell, this is one of those magnificent naturalistic jewels composed of densely-set diamonds.

But, it’s not exactly what it seems. It’s a clever early Nineteenth Century costume piece. While it’s possible that this was made as a copy of a necklace of real diamonds, chances are, this work of paste stones set in silver (backed in gold) was made for and worn by a lady whose situation didn’t allow for the expense of real diamonds, but whose tastes and social obligations required the look. 

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