A superb Georgian era “flaming heart” locket in silver and gold, pavé set with a total of 36 foiled rose cut diamonds of varying size. A large central rosecut stone is surrounded by 7 smaller stones of varying size and shape, with 20 smaller stones completing the setting. The reverse is set with a glazed locket compartment in a heart shape. The bale, in the shape of the ‘flame’, is set with 9 smaller rose cut diamonds. The bezel is chased with four different hand applied patterns.
Flaming, or sacred, hearts are typically considered an Ex Voto, or devotional offering, from the Latin “ex voto suscepto” – from the vow made. The locket compartment would have been a sacred space for a symbol of faith or love – a lock of hair or other devotional item. This piece may well have had both religious and romantic significance; the popularity of heart shapes since ancient times needs no explanation.
The carefully chased decoration and mix of silver and gold is typical of French late 18th century work; we date this piece from approximately 1770 to 1800. Remarkably rare and in excellent condition, the bale shows wear on the inside from rubbing against a chain; the edges of the setting and the bevel of the glass show nicks and light wear typical for ~ 225 years of age. Unfortunately this type and shape has become very popular and many fakes have appeared on the market recently, we are pleased to say that the quality, construction, patina and gentle wear of this piece can’t be reproduced and we are therefore confident in its authenticity. The pendant is unmarked.
The central stone measures 8mm x 7mm and is estimated to be over 1.5 carats, but this is approximate (note that it is not possible to give an accurate carat weight for stones in closed back settings). The stones have inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
Dimensions: 1 ¼” inches high x 3/4” wide
Gross weight: 9.1 grams
For further reading we recommend “Sentimental Jewelry: from the Renaissance to Today” published by Chaumet, copyright 2008, available in both French and English