White are all my jewels

Antique pendant brooch with diamonds & pearls, around 1890

"Under the striped awning a continuous stream of black cloaks and splendid gowns flowed into the house. Stripped of capes and cloaks, the owners of said wardrobe presented themselves there in costly attire and gleaming jewels. Diamonds sparkled everywhere. On snow-white shirts and full busts, on powdered necks, bare arms and ungloved fingers. They crowned the ebony hair of stately matrons and sparkled among the curly and braided hair of young women. They shone on straps and necklines of dresses and wound snakelike around round wrists..." (Translated from the serialized novel, The Countess Pharamond, London Society, April 1892, p. 336.) The Belle Époque, the period between the late 19th century and the beginning of the First World War, elevated diamond jewellery in the non-colour white to the pinnacle of jewellery. However, before white gold was invented and platinum was available and processable in sufficient quantities, silver was used to set diamonds and also white pearls to maximum effect. The brooch here, in the form of a baroque-looking cartouche, is designed as such a triad of different shades of white. The cool brilliance of white old-cut diamonds is joined by the creamy luster of two drop-shaped natural pearls, which are suspended in a movable manner. The gemstones are set in silver, whose natural darkening through oxidation has been slightly taken into account, as the diamonds shine even brighter from the dark metal. On the back, the jewel is made of rhodium-plated gold. At the time of the brooch's creation, it was quite common to design pieces of jewellery with double mountings as brooch and pendant, as both were worn in the same place - the pendant on the décolleté, the brooch in the middle of the collar of a high-necked blouse or at the neckline of the dress. Particularly luxurious variants of the pendant brooch, such as this one, were equipped with a detachable mounting. Thanks to a small screw mechanism, the brooch can be removed when the beautiful piece is worn as a pendant. The pendant eyelet is always hidden behind the frame, so that it does not interfere even when the jewel is worn as a brooch. The fine arrangement of diamonds in natural pearls came to us in London, where it was probably created in the years around 1890.

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 longer dark, yellow candlelight, but the white glow of hundreds of lamps made the ladies' jewellery shine and glitter as never before. No wonder that as a result of these developments, a new fashion also emerged: 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.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

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.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


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.