A lovely and rare pare of so-called Day/Night enamel earrings from the early 1800s, or Charles X, period. High (18k) gold sheets are stamped in an arrow form with foliate and shell decoration. Each piece is enamelled with a grape and vine/leaf motif in green and black. This type is commonly referred to as “Day – Night” earrings because the lower section slips off the ear wire so the simpler upper portion can be worn during the day, while the lower section can be added on for a dressier evening look.
After Napoleon bankrupted France with his endless wars gold blame scarce, and thus very expensive. Conversely, styles demanded large, oversize earrings and parures, or suites, of jewelry. Paintings from this time depict women with hair swept up in enormous curls, leaving the long earrings (sometimes up to four inches long) beautifully displayed beneath. The key elements to French jewelry from this period are “long, large and light”. The gold work from the French Restoration and romantic era ranged from feather-light filigree work known as cannetille, to “repoussé”, where thin sheets of gold were stamped in a mold and often soldered either to a correspondingly molded sheet. The effect is to give a piece volume while maintaining a lightweight feel, so visually it looks more substantial than it is. Many pieces were made this way, often enamelled beforehand creating a colorful effect using a technique known as “basse taille”, where the metal is molded or cut with convex areas that are then engraved before being enamelled with translucent enamel that allows the light to pass through and the engraving to be seen. This technique creates a depth and dimension to pieces that is especially appealing.
Note that the earrings are attached in the traditional 19th century manner, where the hook is inserted from the back of the earlobe and the small hook is latched into a hole in the decorative front piece. Timeless and still very wearable today, they are rare in both style and condition.
Very good condition, there is a tiny loss of enamel on the point of one grape leaf, some small dents on the back of the earrings (not visible from the front); the bottom of one ‘day’ segment has been strengthened with gold solder.
Hallmarks: Ram’s head for French gold items made between 1819 and 1838
Gross weight: 8 grams total
Length: 75mm, or just under 3” long