ANTIQUE Victorian Enamel Portrait Brooch Diamond Pearl 18K Gold Brooch Enamel Jewelry Rose Cut Diamond Medieval Tudor Georgian Victorian Renaissance Revival Brooch Miniature Painted Enamel
An exceptional high Victorian circa 1850 hand painted enamel miniature portrait brooch crafted from solid 18K gold and fine silver and set with lovely rose cut diamonds and genuine natural sea water pearls, all in exquisite condition.
Depicted is a beautiful woman in profile. From her jewels and dress we see that she is a person of great wealth and very likely noble birth. Her high ruffed collar, lush tunic, necklace and hair jewel are typical late renaissance. Although the subject is a Renaissance beauty, this exquisite brooch is a Renaissance Revival piece made in the early Victorian period.
This brooch is a miniature work of art, the exceptional skill of the artist who made this piece is just so evident. Quite apart from the makers obvious skills as a miniature portraitist, there is complete mastery of not just one enamelling technique but of all three, and all in one beautiful jewel.
Let's start with the background, perfectly hand executed guilloche enamel without a stroke out of place. A glowing transparent rich scarlet enamel covers the repeated hand cut diamond pattern. I know it is just my imagination but when I look inside each diamond of the background, I see a the head and shoulders of a visored knight in armour looking back at me. Next, the portrait itself is very finest painted enamel, life like and regal, the texture and colours perfect. Finally we see the artists mastery of cloisonne, the lavish tunic and the hair adornment are formed from cells of transparent enamel between worked borders of gold and silver. And the finishing touch, this enamel masterpiece is set with five rose cut diamonds, three embellish the jewelled hair adornment and two decorate her collar.
Working in enamel, and especially enamel portraiture is painstaking and highly skilled work. It involves not only the fine decoration of the silver underneath transparent or translucent enamel but also decoration which is built up in infinitesimally delicate hand painted layers each fired separately before the next layer can be added. Enamel work just doesn't get any finer than this exquisite piece. Occasionally one hears this very high level of work described as Swiss but of course enamel artists of this ability, though rare, existed throughout Europe.
All told there are more than a dozen hand cut diamonds. Eight rose cuts, along with eight natural pearls form the circular frame around the portrait. Another five rose cuts are set in the portrait itself as described. The diamonds have a calculated total carat weight of 0.67 carats.
To add even more luxury are eight perfectly matched, perfectly round pearls. These pearls are genuine natural pearls, cultured pearls did not exist until the 1920s.
In total this rare jewel weighs 10 grams.
It measures 1 5/16" long by 1 7/16" high by 1/8" deep (33mm x 36mm x 3mm).
This piece is entirely hand crafted and has a c clasp on the reverse typical of the era.
Our appraiser has assessed the metal fineness and we guarantee fine silver and solid 18K gold. Silver was used as a white metal in this era as platinum was yet not used in jewelry manufacture and white gold was yet to be invented.
The condition is beautiful. For accuracy I mention that with a microscope and oblique lighting there are two minute surfaces scuffs to the enamel which are not eye visible. Fabulous condition for a jewel more than 150 years old. This speaks to the quality of the craftmanship and the fired enamelling.
This is an exquisite little antique work of wearable art.
It is a very rare find on the market today. We have only ever seen one other close to this quality in decades of handling antique enamels. It is a special piece of heirloom quality.
What a beautiful addition to any collection of high Victorian jewels or indeed any collection of miniature portraits. Or a perfect gift for someone with a passion for history.
This rarest of pieces comes with a full appraisal. The piece appraised by a specialist antique jewellery appraiser, an expert gemologist and diamond technologist.