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.1845-1855, these magnificent Italian coral cameo and high-karat gold earrings are a Victorian cameo collector's dream come true! Measuring a grand 1 7/8" long from the tops of the ear wires x 3/4" wide x 3/8" tall, these represent the absolute apex of the 19th century Italian cameo carver's art, and their splendid condition, beautiful settings, rare subject, and fabulous state of preservation all qualify them for Masterpiece status!
The stars of this remarkable pair of earrings are the cameos, which are carved from Sicilian coral. The cameos are impressively large, measuring 3/4" x 5/8" x 3/8" tall on their own! The subject matter is also incredibly rare; unlike most coral cameo earrings, these feature male classical portraits of the Emperor Hadrian and his consort-friend, Antinous, carved in the finest detail, and highest relief! The cameos are phenomenally well-preserved, with no damage or wear to the high points- SO rare in cameos of this date and material! These cameos were likely acquired by a lady of wealth and fashion during a Grand Tour of Italy, and were taken back to the United States to be set into the splendid 14k gold frames you see here.
Hadrian is depicted as a young man wearing a helmet and toga, with magnificently-carved drilled and lidded eyes, a perfectly Roman nose, and a regal expression. Antinous is depicted as a nude, handsome youth with abundant, curling hair. Both cameos depict the duo looking out at the viewer in 3/4 profile. These cameos are not only high-relief, they are actually undercut, to give them even more dimension and presence! SIMPLY SPECTACULAR!
Both cameos are collet-set in rubbed-over, ornate frames of 14k yellow gold (ear posts marked "14k"; all gold tested). The cameos descend from a short double chain of gold, and the frames boast beautiful scrolls and open work. Some time in the past 60 years or so, a previous owner had the wires replaced with the posts and butterfly findings you see here, likely after the original wires wore out after a century of passing through the generations. The 14k marks would have been added at this time.
The tops of the earrings are original to these jewels, and the conversion was performed expertly, as there is no presence of solder or damage. This is considered perfectly acceptable in a pair of early Victorian earrings, and the fact that the original, matching tops were retained is a real bonus! The only sign of this conversion is a small file mark to the bottom of the back of each gold frame where the bottom of the wires would have hooked in, which is invisible when worn. Nevertheless, I have taken this bit of conservation into consideration when setting my price.
Weighing in at 9.14 grams for the pair, these earrings look nothing short of magnificent on the ear, and WHAT a history! Easily the finest pair of coral earrings of any date I have had the pleasure to offer, these earrings look smashing with anything you choose to wear them with, and will harmonize wonderfully with your existing antique Sicilian coral jewelry. These beauties will take you from the office to the theater in high Victorian style! They also represent a wonderful investment opportunity for the collector of fine antique cameos.
If you collect the ULTIMATE in Victorian cameo or coral jewels, these stunning earrings will take pride of place in your collection! They would also make a stellar gift for any lady who loves the finest in antique coral, and will be shipped in a gift box. Do not miss these Masterpieces; 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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