A rare and exquisite 17th century pin cast in solid gold in a touching rendition of a gloved right hand, the thumb and index finger holding a gold ring. The little finger is adorned with a heart shaped diamond ring; the wrist is decorated with a second rose-cut diamond on a bow. The cuff of the glove is flared on both front and back in what is known as the gauntlet, set with three rosecut diamonds set in silver, terminating in a scalloped gold cuff that mimics the lace of the period. Both Flemish and Spanish portraits of the period depict these styles of dress. The reverse of the glove is decorated in light blue enamel in champlevé, allowing the gold underneath to create a pattern. The tapering steel stem of the pin is flattened so it can remain in place in a coiffure and so the flat section can sit flush against the head. It is possible that a jewel or pearl was suspended from a chain attached to the gold ring. Other depictions of hairpins show them inserted into the hair from the front of the head, parallel with the scalp, so the jewel would rest against the forehead and could be seen from the front.
The use of hands as talismanic symbols in jewelry dates back centuries, but became especially popular in Spain during the Renaissance period and thereafter. Yvonne Hackenbroch, in her book 'Renaissance Jewellery', described the Spanish use of hands in jewelry, specifically pendants, thus: “Amulets in symbolic shapes were worn whose meaning varies from the obscure to the obvious. Among the latter are pendants in the shape of a closed hand with rings, issuing from a gold and enameled cuff …some of these hands hold a flower, others a wedding ring;…occasionally the finger forms an erotic symbol meaningful to a bride and groom. Some … are thought to have been derived from Arab amulets with open hands; the latter are usually inscribed with Kufic letters or Kabalistic symbols.” (pg 332, Renaissance Jewellery, ©1979 Hackenbroch)
The entire decorative section is cast in solid gold, presumably high karat, but it is too delicate to test. The gold was then enameled in midnight blue, applied in thick enough layers to appear black, with light blue enamel accents on the bow and the back of the cuff. The two rings symbolize love and marriage, the heart shaped pinkie ring an exhibition of love; the (presumably) wedding ring an offering and request for reciprocity and commitment. The choice of enamel color, the bow motif and cuff style, and the cut of the diamonds indicate late 17th century date and western European origin.
Condition: at 350+ years old, its condition is quite good. The enamel is worn most significantly at the fingers and inside the palm; the pin stem has some rust, most notably at the top. There is a missing element on the back side of the wrist, probably a diamond.
Dimensions: 4.5” x 3/8”11.5cm x 1cm at the widest; the decoration alone measures 1 ¼” long