Dating to c.1845-1850, this magnificent gold locket comes straight from my personal collection of fine Victorian jewelry, but as I rarely wear it, I have decided to make it available for the consideration of my Ruby Lane clientele!
Measuring a perfectly-proportioned 2 1/4" x 1 1/4" x 3/8" thick, this is easily the finest Victorian-era gold locket I have ever possessed in my 25+ years as a dealer, collector and scholar of antique jewelry, and it has an American provenance! Wrought in 14k yellow gold (unmarked but tested), this locket is a very early example of photographic jewelry. When the daguerreotype process was perfected in 1840, it was natural for those who could afford this amazing new invention to place the images of their loved ones them in lockets wrought from high-karat gold. Most photographic jewelry post-dating 1860 is set in gold filled jewelry, but early examples were usually placed in much more important pieces of jewelry wrought in high-karat gold.
This locket epitomizes all that is so wonderful about these early jewels; the front of the locket boasts a very typically-American flower theorum, with an engraved basket holding a bouquet of enameled white roses, light and dark blue forget-me-nots, and green leaves spilling over the sides! The basket of flowers is set against a textured background, with the border of the locket engraved with Romantic-era swags, and a small cartouche at the bottom for the engraving of the owner's initials.
The rim of the locket features the deeply chased and engraved floral pattern so popular on fob seals, locket frames, and brooches from 1825-1850. The back of the locket is a masterpiece of Rococo-inspired swirls, acanthus leaves, and blossoms, with a bouquet of blown roses and forget-me-nots in the center. Also, note the magnificent, pin-set bail, which is not only engraved with columbine blossoms, but also boasts fancy cut-work in the center! The detail with which this jewel was crafted is truly outstanding, and is a credit to the mid-19th century American lapidary's skill! SIMPLY PHENOMENAL!
Note that the locket opens from the back rather than the front; this is characteristic of the earliest photographic jewelry. The owners of these precious daguerreotypes considered them too intimate for public viewing, and kept the images close to their hearts. Inside, the locket is untouched after over 165 years; I truly believe that the outstanding condition of this jewel is due to the fact that it was never used. Both crystals are present, as are the engraved gold liners. Measuring 3/8" thick, this locket was made to hold daguerreotypes, but the liners and crystals are easily accessible by a good bench jeweler. You can put your own photographs into this historic jewel!
Weighing in at 24.19 grams, this locket is just as beautiful today as when it was first created, and looks smashing worn with a medium-weight gold chain or on a black ribbon, in true early Victorian style! I rarely toss around the word "pristine," but in this case, it applies - this locket is free from losses, dents. repairs, or replacements, the engraving is still crisp, and the enamel is perfect! If you collect the ULTIMATE in fine antique American jewelry, this locket will make a treasured addition to your collection! It would also make a thrilling gift for any lady fond of the finest in Victorian gold lockets, and will be shipped in a gift box. Do not miss this one-of-a-kind beauty; up to 90-day layaway is available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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