Caterina Sforza Riario DeMedici (1463-1509) was a tigress of a woman. During the violent age in which she lived, she was called the Tigress, and tales of her courage and ferocity were legendary. She was the daughter of one of the most feared men of her age, Galeazzo Sforza of Milan, and she defied the even more ferocious and terrifying Cesare Borgia when few men dared. Well educated and brilliant, she was also very beautiful: in the painting of Primavera (my store logo) by the revered Sandro Botticelli, Caterina is the face of one of the three Graces. She must have been very confident of her beauty to allow herself to be painted next to the breathtaking Simonetta Vespucci, Botticelli's favorite model.
Apart from her formidable political, diplomatic and administrative skills, Caterina wrote handbooks on alchemy, hunting and beauty treatments. She is not as well known today as Lucrezia Borgia (who was definitely not a femme fatale but a pawn of her powerful Borgia father and brothers. For more about Lucrezia, read Sarah Bradford's or Maria Bellonci's exquisite biographies, or Ferdinand Gregorovius' Victorian masterpiece. The malicious stories about her are nonsense.) Caterina, however, really was a very dangerous lady to cross, and was one of the most brilliant women of the Renaissance.
(And for sticklers for historical accuracy, like me, the portrayal of her in the current series "The Borgias" leaves me uncomfortable. As Guilia Farnese implies, Caterina's military genius was formidable. But she was more beautiful, less reasonable and more dangerous than the series shows her.) As for the famous scene of her standing on the walls of her castle defying Juan Borgia...........yes, she really did what the series showed.
I've crafted this one-of-a-kind set of pendant necklace and earrings in her honor, in the tawny and black colors of the Tigress that she was. The earrings feature a cascade of tigress colors: Baltic amber, black onyx, deep tawny tourmaline, spicy hessonite garnet, amber, smoky quartz, and citrine-colored quartz crystal.
The focal points of both are the spectacular kite-shaped 20mm. and 15mm. faceted briolettes of golden citrine quartz crystal. This is genuine quartz crystal that has been dyed a radiant citrine color.
Above the 20mm. pendant are: 7mm. smooth ovals of tawny tourmaline; 7mm. faceted oval of tawny hessonite garnet; 4mm. round of Baltic amber; 4mm. faceted rounds and rondelles of smoky quartz, hessonite garnet and black onyx; 8mm. faceted full round briolette of hessonite garnet.
The cascade earrings feature, above the focals: 8mm. faceted full round hessonite briolettes; 9mm. faceted slender briolettes of black onyx; 4mm. rounds of smooth amber, faceted onyx, smoky quartz and hessonite.
All are worked on 14kt. gold-filled wire and jewelry pins, to 14kt. gold-filled rolo chain, and accented with tiny matte gold plated beads. The beaded vermeil jewelry pins in the pendant are the classic Etruscan/Roman beaded style that was revived during the renaissance. The pendant and earrings hang from 24kt. sterling vermeil connector and post wires in a lacy filigree Renaissance pattern.
The necklace pendant measures 2.25" long, and hangs from lacy 14kt. gold-filled chain. It closes with a gold-filled lobster clasp and measures 17.75" long. In addition it has a vermeil extension chain, finished with a honey chalcedony briolette, so you can wear it up to 19.25" long. The earrings measure 2" long.
For those who want to read more about the Divine Caterina, please look for a new biography by the respected Italian Renaissance art historian Elizabeth Lev. She has written a comprehensive account of Caterina's extraordinary life, called "The Tigress of Forli." The last scan is a portrait of Caterina by Lorenzo di Credi (she is painted in the black and tawny colors of a tigress).
This set would retail in a good museum or historical reproduction jewelry catalog for about $450.
All metals are 24kt. sterling vermeil and 14kt. gold-filled (except the tiny gold-plated accent rounds). All the gems are genuine.
NOTE: all my original designs and text are sole property of Strega2 Jewelry and protected under Title 17 of the U.S. copyright laws. Any copying, adaptation or infringement will result in legal action.
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