The Beautiful Stranger
Large medallion pendant with Lagenstein gem in gold, circa 1870
"The tops rustle and shudder, As if at this hour Around the half-sunken walls The old gods the round. Here behind the myrtle trees In secret twilight's splendor, "Why dost thou speak as in dreams... To me, fantastic night?" (Joseph von Eichendorff, Beautiful Strangers, 1835) The gods of antiquity were a favorite subject for 19th-century gemmologists. Carved in white on a mauve ground in Lagenstein, we see here too a young woman dressed in antique style, turning her profile towards us - but who is she? Her only attribute is a wreath in her hair. But it is neither Flora, who is depicted with roses in her hair, nor a Bacchante, a follower of the wine god Bacchus, who is always seen with grapes and grape leaves in her curly hair. It is possible that the plants in the sitter's hair are poppy buds seen from above, as Nyx, the personification of the night, was also a popular motif. She was depicted with opium poppies in her hair and a slightly lowered gaze. However, she is usually accompanied by a crescent moon and an owl - so the beautiful stranger will not quite reveal her secret. But as for secrets, the pendant is also made, because on its reverse side there is a glazed locket compartment in which a keepsake can be hidden, yet proverbially worn close to the heart. The finely cut gem is set in a Victorian gold setting, the style of which echoes the antique garb of the sitter: with granulations and fine overlays of gold wire, the pendant is a representative of the so-called Archaeological style, inspired by ancient jewellery found on excavations. By the 1870s, goldsmiths had already moved away from simply copying these pieces of jewellery and were producing independent designs based on the decorative techniques of ancient peoples. The medallion, with its high-quality workmanship, has survived the passage of time very well.
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.