La Belle Endormie

Antique Dormeuse Earrings With 4.95 Ct Old Cut Diamonds, Prague Circa 1890

The form of earrings used here is also called "dormeuse". Dormeuses" are small round earrings usually with leverbacks, which are worn just below the earlobe and can thus be worn during naps or even at night (French "dormir" = to sleep). In the late 19th century, dormers became very fashionable: after long earrings had been popular for many decades, they were suddenly considered unrefined from the 1880s onwards. Only earrings of small size were now socially acceptable: "Small pendants are still worn with pleasure. A pearl, a large diamond close to the earlobe and, at most, a falling stone are perfectly sufficient," was the comment in the influential ladies' journal Der Bazar in 1897. The pair here is a particularly impressive and precious example of this fashion. Each of the earrings sets a large, radiant old-cut diamond of 2.36 ct and 2.22 ct, respectively, beneath a smaller diamond. The diamonds shine in a warm, toned white, but appear brighter through its pinched, open setting of dark patinated silver. The earwires and an openwork lower cadence are forged of reddish gold, typical of the period. In addition to the design of the earrings, the diamond cuts also allow for dating, as they are cushion-shaped old cuts, so-called old mine cuts. The English name of this cut alludes to the fact that it was developed in the "old mines", i.e. not in South Africa. Before large diamond deposits were found in South Africa, diamonds were much rarer, which in turn affected the cut; because a cushion-shaped cut means less loss of substance for the cubic rough diamond than a round one. It was not until the 1890s that the round old cut really caught on. The earrings each bear hallmarks for Prague, then part of the KuK monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Like the design and diamond cuts, the hallmarks support our dating, as they were only used between 1872 and 1922. We reproduce a photographic portrait of the opera singer Katharina Klafsky published in 1895, in which she wears similar earrings as well as a crescent brooch typical of the period (see last image). An independent gemmological report confirms the quality of the materials used.

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.