A very fine quality French Empire tiara comb, tested at 12k and 9k gold, yellow in color. The red coral beads are all hand carved and authentic. Circa 1800-1820 fashion accessory we see in the French Empire portraits and portrait miniatures all the time, this is an original French Empire period tiara set with loads of hand carved red coral beads. Red coral was thought to hold special properties that enabled it to protect the wearer so they were popular for young virtuous women. That legend dates back to Medusa's blood, and you can research it a bit on your own. One of the most complete and fine condition ones we've had in ages, I see no missing beads on this one at all. The ormolu is in very nice condition, bright and beautiful, ready to wear or display. We've shown it well and both front and back for your review. Our final photos show how these were worn during Napoleon and Josephine times, I have several more to list but this is the most complete, the others have seed pearls rather than red coral, but watch for those later, listed and sold separately.
Very good to excellent for age and type. Collectors know the rarity of these old ones, particularly the red coral. Review our images of this fine one. You will see one chipped larger coral bead and some of the tiny ones lost to the ages. Photos should give you a very good view of it. The comb tines are quite flexible, can be made more even and straight with some ease. They have been acid-tested and prove to be 9, gold, while the arched tiara itself tested at 12k gold. Measurements noted on the images.
ADDED NOTE: I was just conversing with two collectors about the unusual look of the tiny coral beads, and just looking at the tiny "beads" with a loupe. I think they might be pearls with a coral coating. With the natural eye you can't tell this at all, they're so small. But they seem to me to be seed pearls. They're no more than 1.5mm so awfully small. But they are like your comb. And I think those are the originals. There are a few tiny carved red coral beads on that row that have been added at some point with a gold thread. All of this is more visible in the HUGE enlarged images and not really possible to see with the diadem in hand.
I think the top row are all red coral. They're all original to the piece for certain. Not a later replacement. I'm wondering if I should have my son drill with a fine Dremmel and see if we can tell if it's coral through or like the tiny ones. The quality of the diadem is high, so it doesn't bother me as long as I know it's original. But I wasn't aware there was a "faux" red coral at that time, were you?
We're investigating further as I don't know what they coated the pearls with to get that red coral coloration so accurately. Any of you experts care to weigh in on this?
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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