The language of flowers

Antique brooch with Pietra Dura micromosaic in gold filigree, around 1885

We encounter the flower as an ornamental element of jewellery in all centuries, but nowhere as often as in the 19th century, when sentimental jewellery was loved. Not least of all, floral decorations also had symbolic significance: if the giver and the recipient adhered to the same lexicon of floral language and the same rules, bouquets in particular could be interpreted romantically. The white rose was usually understood as a symbol of innocence and was considered an appropriate gift, especially for young women and girls. The forget-me-not can be interpreted more unambiguously, for its meaning was always the same, speaking in both the German and English-speaking worlds. The German etymologist Friedrich Kluge writes that the name developed in the vernacular from the fact that the colour reminds one of the eyes of freshly fallen in love; thus in Old High German it was also called "Fridiles auga", i.e. eye of the beloved. Henry IV also introduced the loan translation "Forget-me-not" in England, where it is still used today. These two flowers are represented here in the medium of micromosaic, more specifically in the Florentine specialty of pietra dura. Particularly in the 19th century, many travelers brought these small works of art from Florence back to their homeland to have them set as jewelry. The age of such a micromosaic is therefore usually indicated by the setting: here it is in the typical style of the 1880s, filigree and small-scale, made of fine wires and gold beads. We were able to purchase this beautiful brooch in London. It has been preserved very well and we liked it because of the fine quality of the micromosaic as well as the setting.

Pietra Dura (it. "hard stone") is a traditional craft from Florence, in which pictures and ornaments are composed of platelets of hard stone. Unlike the classical mosaic art of coloured cubes or pins, the Pietra Dura process uses precisely adapted shaped pieces, which are cut according to the corresponding fields of the preliminary drawing. This creates particularly resistant, durable decorative surfaces. The heyday of the Pietra Dura craft in Florence was in the 16th century, when not only the famous Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo was decorated, but also numerous tables, pieces of jewellery, altars and in fact every conceivable object was decorated with this elaborate and costly technique. But even today, at 78 Via degli Alfani, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure is a workshop that specializes solely in the production of works of art using this technique. Pietra Dura jewellery has been a popular souvenir of every visit to Florence since the Renaissance. Especially in the 19th century, during the era of the Grand Tour, young noblemen from Northern Europe brought back pieces from their extensive travels in Italy to show the beauty and artistry of Italy to those at home.

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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.