Antique Victorian 14K Gold Rose Gold Hardstone Cameo Sardonyx Agate Black Enamel Cameo Pin Brooch
From the Victorian era C.1890 here is a rose gold pin/brooch that features a bit of black enamel work framing a lovely brown/cream sardonyx cameo of a renaissance lady facing left. The detail on the cameo is amazing and as usual, my pictures do it absolutely NO justice! The back of the pin has a safety catch to hold the pinstem in place. It does look like the mechanism is a later replacement but thankfully, it was cleanly done by a professional with gold solder used. While the front of the pin is clearly rose gold, the back of the pin shows both yellow and rose gold.
Condition: With regard to the cameo - there are no breaks, chips or cracks on the piece and yes, this means the NOSE! With regard to the enamel - The black enamel is pretty much perfect on both sides. I see a couple of specks (under a 10X loupe) on either side that might have been filled in but maybe my eyes are playing tricks. With regard to the setting - perfect!
Metal Content: 14K Gold - No hallmark as is the norm with American manufatured pins of this era. Metal was gently acid tested for content.
Size: 1-13/16" wide x 1-1/2" high
Weight: 9.5 grams
Final comments: The pin features a combination of techniques and styles - a bit of Etruscan wirework, some mourning enamel, some brite cut engraving, but somehow, all of the styles mesh together nicely. It's possible the brooch IS a mourning pin, but then again, it's possible the jeweler just thought the piece needed a darker accent color to highlight the center cameo. Wear as it was meant, or add a chain and wear as a pendant. Or add to a piece of velvet ribbon and wear as a choker. The possibilities with this piece are endless!
With regard to the hardstone - Sardonyx is a banded agate form of Chalcedony Quartz. cut primarily in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Once cut, the cameos would have found their way into jewelers workshops from Italy to England. Hardstone cameos are nearly always a good deal more expensive than shell cameos, because the material is more costly and much more difficult to carve. The finest carved pieces exhibit great attention to detail - you should be able to see every aspect of the figure without having to "squint" to see what you're looking at!
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Antique Victorian 14K Gold Hardstone Cameo Pin