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.1840-1850, this incredible bracelet is a one-of-a-kind Masterpiece from top to bottom! Measuring 8 1/2" long x 1 5/8" at the tallest point, this magnificent jewel is carved completely out of Russian malachite, and takes the form of a mermaid holding a large fish! The mermaid's head and torso are the focal point here, but her body is no less impressive, and is wrought from segments of graduated size formed with a flat wire coil inside, so that the mermaid "swims" right up your arm!
The head and torso of this mythical creature are truly breathtaking! The mermaid looks as if she is actually rising out from the ocean, her face lifted up in 3/4 profile. She has curling hair, and wears a sash of seaweed over one shoulder, but her breasts are boldly bare; something one rarely sees in jewelry of the 19th century! She carries a large fish over one shoulder and holds it in the crook of her left arm. These is such a wonderful sense of movement here; whomever carved this was clearly a master!
The mermaid's body is comprised of 19 individual segments, and each one is completely decorated with carved scales! In my 25+ years as a specialist in Georgian and Victorian jewelry, I have never seen a bracelet like this before; the wire coil construction was used in the mid-19th century for serpent and dragon-motif bracelet,s but this is the first mermaid I have beheld in or out of reference books! The quality of the malachite is also notable; it is richest green with natural streaks of forest green, and boasts the slightly blue undertone which characterizes the finest Russian malachite. It is possible that this bracelet may be Russian in origin, but I will call it European, as I prefer to err on the side of caution.
This magnificent jewel will fit a wrist from 6 3/4" up to 8". It has survived the past 170-odd years in excellent, albeit not perfect condition. There are two segments that display a chip, but the segments are stable, and in no danger of cracking. I have set my price with this bit of acceptable wear in mind. The second segment of the bracelet has been fitted with forest-green elastic threaded to fit through the existing loop at the end of the mermaid's tail. This will fit a smaller lady's wrist, but could easily be removed for a larger wrist. I find that the elastic is invisible when worn, and helps to keep the shape of this beautiful jewel. Otherwise, this bracelet is in as pristine a condition as it was when first worn by a lady of wealth and fashion in the 1840s!
Weighing in at 44.39 grams, this bracelet is a wonder to behold and an absolute joy to wear! This is the sort of bracelet I would love to keep for my own collection, but one cannot keep it all and pay the bills! Let my loss be your gain, as I never expect to find one like it again! If you collect the ULTIMATE in Victorian-era or cameo jewelry, this bracelet belongs on your wrist and in your collection! It would also make the gift of a lifetime for any lady fond of mermaids or fine Victorian jewelry, and will be shipped in a gift box suitable for giving or storing this wonder. Do not miss this Masterpiece; up to 60-day layaway is available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
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