The pursuit of greater things

Antique Belle Époque pendant / brooch with diamonds in platinum & gold, around 1910

The architecture of the early 20th century literally strove for the higher. In those years, the first skyscrapers were built and grew into the sky with ever-increasing speed. After the great architectural sensations of the Crystal Palace at the World's Fair in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris as late as the 19th century, the engineering craft experienced an unprecedented blossoming worldwide, especially exploring the possibilities of construction. Cologne Cathedral, for example, was given a roof truss made of a delicate-looking steel skeleton that was much stronger, stronger and lighter than the conventional oak construction used until then. Especially, however, the architecture of the "Jahrhunderthalle" (Hall of the Century) in Breslau, which was built by Max Berg in the years from 1911 to 1913, brought the endeavour to dissolve the solidity of the construction to a hitherto unseen climax. The dome of the hall, with a free span of 65 meters in diameter, was the largest of its kind in Germany at the time of its completion. To this day, it consists of filigree buttresses, which take away all the heaviness of the architecture, so open, fine and yet stable is its construction. This impressive brooch from those very years reminds us in its construction of these principles of form and construction in the art of building. This small masterpiece of platinum, gold and diamonds is also so finely openworked and yet so stable that its construction seems almost audacious! A symmetrical rosette develops around an old-cut diamond in the centre of the slightly domed jewel, reminiscent of early stained glass windows and equally reminiscent of traditional Indian mandalas. The brooch is built up from the most delicate platinum bars, which support each other and hold a total of 109 diamonds in cuts typical of the period. 100 diamond roses alone are set in every conceivable place and make the surface sparkle. Round pendants, whose filigree design was almost reminiscent of textile lace, were particularly popular in the 1910s. This piece of jewellery, which can be worn both as a pendant and as a brooch, is also in this delicate form. On the back, the work is made of gold, while on the front, a blanket of platinum lends it a uniform white color. The piece is excellently preserved and exemplifies the sense of form of the Belle Époque. For dating, see also David Bennett/Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, London 2010, p. 285, with comparable pieces of jewellery.

With the invention of gaslight and then electric light at the end of the 19th century, glistening brightness suddenly filled the ballrooms of Europe. No more dark, yellow candlelight, but the white glow of hundreds of lamps made the ladies' jewellery shine and glitter as never before. It is no wonder that a new fashion emerged as a result of these developments: white jewels made of diamonds and silver responded to the new lighting conditions and replaced the previous more colourful designs. In general, jewellery was increasingly richly set with sparkling gems to create an ever more luxurious and rich appearance. At the great balls in Paris, London and St. Petersburg, ever more magnificent diamond necklaces were presented, as well as tiaras, brooches and rings, all dreams in white diamonds. The name of the era, the Belle Époque, still indicates the goal of the period: To shine in beauty. But the fashion for white jewellery also remained current in the following decades, right up to the Art Déco of the 1920s. Only the materials of the settings changed. The rapidly tarnishing silver was first replaced by platinum settings and later by jewellery made entirely of platinum or white gold, which was developed shortly after the World War.

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You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.