Antique Portuguese Chrysoberyl jewelry is quite rare and this particular form of earrings is the most unusual I have had the pleasure to offer. Chrysoberyl is a stone derived from the Greek words meaning "golden beryl" and is a beautiful pale golden/ green. The earrings are circa 1770 with each stone, calibre cut and pave set. Pave set, is modern terminology that was introduced in the early part of the 20th century. How amazing, that this form of setting was actually used in the 18th century. The settings are meticulous and this process of setting foil back, hand cut stones is time consuming and required the hands of a skilled artisan.
In the 18th century, Portugal had dominion over Brazil where they had access to the mines where these stones were sourced. The aristocracy treasured their distinctive color as much as diamonds, and wore elaborate rings, earrings and necklaces. Upon the death of their husbands, the wives often withdrew to convents and bequeathed their jewels to the church. The examples are rare to surface for sale, and most are found in museums.
This dramatic pair of earrings are two parts that separate so they could be worn day or for more formal evening attire. The top, round section measures 3/4 inches and are spectacular worn alone. The full earring with the bottom attached is 1 7/8ths long.
They are back to front ear wires that have been modified as seen in the pictures. They are quite easy to fasten and are secure. The top loop was an early design used to secure the earrings on the back of the ears.
The stones have glorious color, with beautiful, natural variation due to the foil beneath each stone.
Rare, and wonderful.....
For reference read "Five Centuries of Jewelry National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon 1995. It has full pictures of the exhibit in the museum. page 85 has a similar three section earring with a bow.