This is one of two fabulous Swami Silver locket pendants that I am listing today. It is decorated on both front and back with intricate, deeply embossed and carved Indian deities, a god riding bull (or perhaps a ram), and a goddess (Sarasvati, I think) riding on a peacock. The detailing is superb. Inside is a compartment containing woven hair; the retaining ring and cover are still present. It measures just under 1 ¾ inches long, including the bale and is 1 inch wide. This locket is not marked (as was common with silver work of this type), but tests as .925 Sterling silver, using a Troy Test kit. It weighs 13.6 grams.
Overall, this locket is in very good vintage condition, but it does have a dent to the side depicting the goddess on a peacock and the catch does not therefore snap firmly shut. It does, however, stay closed during wear and can be worn with either side displayed.
This fascinating style of silver jewellery, known as Swami Silver or sometimes Madras Silver, became popular during the Raj from the 1870's onwards, following the visit of the Prince of Wales to India in 1876. Made in Madras and Bangalore, it featured the kind of shapes and objects beloved by the Victorians but decorated in the Indian manner. Calling card cases, spoons and tea services were popular, as well as jewellery. Lockets are the most commonly found items of jewellery in this style – but bracelets, elaborate necklaces and collars, brooches and earrings were also fashionable.
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