Dating to c.1750, this magnificent early Georgian reliquary pendant is a historic and highly-wearable treasure!
Measuring 2" long x 7/8" at its widest point, this superbly-crafted reliquary pendant truly has all of the "bells and whistles," and is a remarkable example of devotional jewelry! Most likely French in origin, this pendant is a tour-de-force of Rococo design, and is truly a masterpiece of the mid-18th century lapidary's art!
This breath-taking jewel is crafted from sculpted 15k yellow and rose gold in the asymmetrical style so popular in early Rococo jewelry (all gold and silver unmarked but tested). The gold work is literally sculpted, with a Gothic-style architectural cupola set above an ornately-framed mother-of-pearl plaque. This luminous plaque is mounted in a substantial golden frame decorated with three-dimensional scrolls and applied gold beadwork! The center of the plaque is set with a beautifully-painted miniature of St. John the Baptist, painted on vellum beneath a polished rock crystal cabochon.
St. John is depicted as a young man with long hair and a trimmed beard. He is haloed, and wears clerical robes. He holds a cross mounted with a corpus in his left hand, while his right hand is held over his heart. The background is painted in sky blue and scattered with stars around his halo. This miniature measures just 11 mm x 8.5 mm, and is in pristine condition. It is covered with its original rock crystal, and set into the mother-of-peal plaque in a golden collet. It is framed with applied sculpted gold vines and scallops shells, with additional flower and vine decoration cascading down from the top of the pendant, and there is even a tiny golden angel wrought in full relief and attached with an invisible pin at the 7:00 position! SO LOVELY!
Best of all, this pendant has survived in magnificent, all-original condition; the only loss appears to be to a tiny bit of gold applique below the angel where a minuscule drill hole is present. Considering the intricacy of this jewel as well as its 260+ year old history, this is perfectly acceptable, and does not detract from the overall beauty or inherent value of this superb work of devotional art. Otherwise, it is as fresh as the day it was made for a wealthy patron of the Church in the middle of the 18th century!
But wait - it gets even better! The reverse of the pendant is almost as beautiful as the front, and reveals a relic set beneath a rock crystal cabochon. The relic appears to be set over red wax. It is very hard to discern what the relic could be, but there are strands of some kind of material present under 20x magnification. The crystal is intact and undisturbed, and I know that even second-class relics of the major saints were traditionally required by the Church to be mounted under rock crystal, so I am describing it to the best of my ability. The rock crystal is framed with a radiating nimbus of 15k gold, and the pendant is backed with a sterling silver plaque deeply engraved with scrollwork which harmonizes with the design on the front. JUST MAGNIFICENT!
Weighing in at a substantial 14.02 grams, this important reliquary jewel may have once adorned a wondrous gold rosary, now lost to the ages. It retains its original gold bail and suspension ring. I have added an additional small 14k gold bail so that the jewel will "sit" properly on the neck for wear as a pendant today, and WHAT a pendant! This piece certainly would have been owned by a very wealthy patron of the Church who also adored the latest Rococo fashions of the day, and it is suitable for wear by a 21st-century lady or a gentleman! This is easily one of the finest Church jewels I have discovered in my 25+ years as a collector, dealer and scholar of antique and devotional jewelry, and it looks splendid worn on a simple gold chain around the neck!
Simply a delight to behold and a joy to own, this investment-worthy French reliquary pendant will make a prized addition to any collection of fine Georgian-era devotional jewelry. It would also make the ULTIMATE Christmas gift for that special lady or gentleman! This jewel will be shipped in a gift box suitable for storing or giving. Do not miss this rare and historic treasure; it is priced for fast holiday sale, and FREE USPS Priority shipping is MY Christmas gift to YOU!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
FEBRUARY SALE! Fresh, Investment-Worthy Pieces Added Weekly! Layaways Available; I Ship Worldwide!