Webster's Dictionary defines a "masterpiece" as "a work done with extraordinary skill or artistic achievement." I have been fortunate enough lately to acquire several jewels which meet this criteria, and I am proud to present the "Masterpiece collection" for the consideration of my Ruby Lane clientele!
Dating to c.1600 for the carnelian intaglio and c.1850 for the custom 15k gold pendant frame, this is a magnificent example of Renaissance jewelry, and it is indeed a Masterpiece! Intaglio gems enjoyed three eras of popularity; antiquity, the Renaissance, and the Georgian era. When I first examined this jewel closely, I knew it was not Georgian in date, as there was too much surface wear on the reverse of the seal. Hardstone intaglios take centuries for their high polish to mellow, and my own collection of Georgian intaglios all still retain a good polish to the reverse.
The subject - the bust of a maiden - is deeply carved in the Roman style, but her appearance is absolutely 16th-century. Firstly, she is carved in the exacting Neoclassical style of the Renaissance, not the crude style of Roman antiquity nor the over-romanticized style of the Georgians. Secondly, she has a very high, shaved hairline. She is evidently unmarried, as she wears her hair in flowing locks.
It was fashionable for ladies of the 16th-century to shave their hairlines back to something of an extreme. A large forehead indicated intelligence, and allowed for the hair nets of gold and pearls to be shown off to their full advantage. Queen Elizabeth shaved her hairline, and ladies of the Court followed her example. This young lady also wears a loose gown typical of the late 16th-century. In the impression, she looks very similar to the Mona Lisa, which was painted in 1503 (compare the photos below)!
I have seen similar examples of Renaissance intaglios set as jewels in many of my reference books, and I have compared it to a Renaissance intaglio in my own collection. This jewel would have originally been set into a seal ring (see the fine impression), but was converted to this pendant in the early Victorian era. It is likely Italian in origin.
This magnificent, 400-year-old treasure measures 7/8" long x 5/8" wide x 1/4" thick. With the bail, it measures just over 1" tall. This museum-worthy intaglio was custom-mounted ca. 1850 in the solid 15k gold frame you see here in order to protect the front, back, and sides of the intaglio. This jewel weighs 6.5 grams, and is in magnificent condition, with no damage to either the intaglio or its mounting. The intaglio is free of chips or cracks; please see the back-lit photos to view the natural graining of the carnelian stone.
Simply an incredibly rare and historically important example of the Renaissance carver's art, this jewel makes a wonderfully wearable pendant for either a lady or a gentleman. It just needs a gold chain to show it off to its full advantage. This is an opportunity to acquire a historic jewel that should be cherished and passed down through the generations! As with all jewelry pre-dating 1700, this item will be sold with a COA and valuation for your insurance purposes at no extra charge. Up to 90-day layaway is available on this item, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
If you love the history and importance of fine intaglios or Renaissance jewelry, this pendant belongs around your neck an in your collection! This is the kind of jewel I would love to add to my own collection, but one cannot keep it all! I do not expect to offer another jewel like this one, and never again at the price, but I got a great deal, so why shouldn't you? Layaway is available, so do not miss this Renaissance Masterpiece!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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