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 conservatively to c.1600-1620, but possibly as early as 1580, this superb Spanish pectoral cross is an incredible survival, and it's magnificent craftsmanship, near-mint state of preservation, phenomenal rarity, and exquisite wearability all qualify it for Masterpiece status! Measuring a grand 3 1/2" long x 1 7/8" wide, this outstanding jewel is wrought from 22k yellow gold (unmarked but tested). It has made it through 400+ years in untouched condition, and represents not only a magnificent devotional jewel, but a fine investment!
This example is of Spanish origin, and boasts a superbly-modeled corpus, an applied gold plaque hand-engraved with "INRI" inscribed above, and a second plaque below, which represents the Virgin Mary at prayer standing on a crescent moon. Upon their arrival in the New World in the early 16th century, Spanish missionaries adapted, then converted the reigning Aztec Mother goddess Tonantzin to the Virgin Mary, in an attempt to make the conversion of the Aztecs to Christianity more attractive. The Aztecs were able to relate to the concept of Mary as the Mother of the Church, and this image appears on most Spanish and Spanish Colonial crosses of this era.
Completely crafted by hand, this exquisite cross is decorated with openwork trefoils, representing the Trinity of The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This important pectoral jewel would have originally been owned by a high-ranking member of the Church, likely a Cardinal. The construction of this cross is a joy to behold; like most Spanish pectoral crucifixes of the late 16th and early 17th-centuries, it is very three dimensional, and is suitable for wear by a lady or a gentleman! This jewel is free from damage or repairs after 20 generations - SIMPLY AMAZING!
Best of all, this cross is eminently wearable; it looks splendid worn on a high-karat gold chain. And oh, that incredible condition! The only sign of wear to this treasure is the loss of some black and white enamel highlights to the bottom of the figure of the Virgin. Otherwise, this jewel is just as it appeared the day it was made by a skilled Spanish goldsmith! Given the history of Spanish jewelry, this piece is almost certainly made from Aztec gold, which was flowing into Spain by the 1540s; either way, this represents over four centuries of Church history, and is truly museum-worthy! This cross has not been cleaned, and has built up a gorgeous "bloom" to the gold which only the passing of centuries can impart. (For references to nearly identical crosses, see "Five Centuries of Jewellery" (National Museum of Art, Lisbon, 1995, p. 56; last photo.)
Weighing in at 15.12 grams, this pectoral cross just radiates with history, and is easily the rarest devotional jeweI that I have discovered in my 11+ years on Ruby Lane. Seldom did these pectoral jewels escape the melting pot; it is clear that this example has been handled with kid gloves for centuries! If you collect the ULTIMATE in high Church or historical jewelry, this cross belongs around your neck and in your collection! It would also make a generous gift fro any lady or gentleman of faith, and will be shipped in a gift box. As with all of my jewelry pre-dating 1700, this cross will be sold with a COA and insurance valuation at no extra charge. Do not miss this important pectoral cross; up to 8 month layaway is available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
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Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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