Dating conservatively to the first decade of the 17th-century, but possibly earlier, this is one of the best-preserved devotional jewels to have come my way in ages!
Measuring 1 3/8" x 2" long, this 400-year-old jewel is magnificently cast from solid sterling-grade silver, then was fire-gilded with very high-karat gold (silver unmarked but tested). Very likely Spanish in origin, this pendant boasts a center panel of Mary enthroned, holding the Christ child on her lap. Mary wears crown, and is dressed in ornate, textured robes. The baby Jesus is also wearing a full, formal-looking gown, and holds an olive branch in one hand.
Surrounding the Holy family are two guardian angels on each side, and a scrolled and acanthus leaf decoration which is also the height of pure Mannerism. There is a skull at the bottom of the main figures, indicating the brevity of life. The bail sports a bow at the top in the manner of early 17th-century secular jewelry. It is likely that this medallion was worn by a fashionable Spanish lady of the Church, and it has survived in all-original, intact condition.
One of the things that astounds me about this pendant is that high-karat gilding which is still intact after over almost four centuries! This is a museum-quality pendant, and it still glows with all of the warmth it did when it was crafted. This pendant has not been cleaned, and should not be - the rich bloom to the gilding is a part of its great history as well as its value!
Weighing in at 11.4 grams, this pendant would be suitable for wear by a lady or a gentleman. The craftsmanship is unsurpassed; I have never seen a devotional jewel of this age and quality before! It look stunning worn on a fine gold chain or a black ribbon around the neck, and it is investment-quality!
If you collect the ULTIMATE in early Church jewelry, this pendant belongs around your neck and in your collection! Provenance is from a serious collector of early Church jewelry in Connecticut. This pendant would also make a fabulous gift for any lady or gentleman who cherishes the finest in late-Renaissance jewelry. Do not miss this treasure!
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