I purchased this French, Legion d'honneur pendant in Marseille. I was initially captured by its beauty but then was fascinated by its history. Napoleon established this award in 1802, rewarding service in both civil and military. It is the highest French decoration and one of the most prestigious medals in the world.
The design has changed through the years. In the Third Republic the 1870 version of the medal changed in several respects. The crown, formerly used was replaced by a laurel leaf surmounting the five armed "Maltese Asterisk." The head of Marianne was used, but now was facing to the right. Her image has been the national personification of the French Republic since the French Revolution. It personifies liberty, equality and fraternity. The reverse has two tricolor flags with the motto "Honneur et Patrie (Honor and Fatherland.)
The recipient, both male and female, would be obliged to pay for the medal. If a special version was desired at a significant cost, family members and friends would often contribute.
This particular example was a custom piece. It is 18 karat gold, fully decorated with diamonds and emeralds. These were often made by renowned jewelers such as Boucheron and Janesich. It has French gold guarantee stamps for 18 karat gold and a maker's mark on the attached ring.
The clue to the age of this medal was determined by the cut of the diamonds. It has Old European cut as well as Transitional Round Brilliant diamonds. The latter was popular I the 1920's. This medal would have been awarded post WW1.
It measures 1 3/4 inches long x 7/8ths across. It has 80 points of diamonds and .09 carats of emeralds. The stones are vibrant and finely set.
The chain is available separately.
It is a unique, beautiful pendant as well as an historical symbol.
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Third Floor Antiques
Antique French Pendant Diamond Legion Of Honor
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