Victory before your eyes

Antique Gem of Nike as brooch & pendant in gold, around 1860

A gentle wind blows towards her. The dress moves easily, calmly and surely the winged goddess strides to the right. She is Nike, the goddess of victory of ancient Greece. In her hands she carries two jars, so-called Oinochoe. She is about to offer the wine in them. And thus summon victory. For who could resist the goddess of victory? This gem shows us this scene in a very fine cut. Artfully and plastically cut in shell, the goddess stands out brightly against a dark background. Even the smallest details are recognizable: the feathers of her wings seem to vibrate, her arms and legs stand out admirably under the light fabric of her robe. The gem in its gold setting, which makes it a brooch and yet it can also be worn as a pendant, was created in the years around 1860, when this genre of jewellery was at its peak. In the centuries before, antique gems and cameos were kept in cabinets of art and admired only by a privileged few. In the long 19th century, cuts with classical motifs were remade to be worn and admired as jewelry. As small, easily transportable reliefs with motifs of classical antiquity, previously known only from museums or well-known collections, they testified to the taste and education of their wearers. We have not yet discovered a model for the depiction of the self-confident, calm and in this so convincing goddess of victory. On ancient vase paintings, however, we frequently encounter depictions of Nike making a libation, cf. for example this vase in the possession of the British Museum, inv. no. 1836,0224.79. The gem was probably cut in Italy. The setting then made in northern Europe, possibly in Germany. We discovered the brooch in Munich.

Shells with mythological motifs were created especially in the 19th century in Italy for travellers on a Grand Tour. This so-called cavalier tour, which was supposed to perfect the education of the travellers, led to the antique buildings, to the art collections of Rome and Naples and the early tourists brought small souvenirs from their journey across the Alps, which were supposed to tell of the experiences of the Italian journey.

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.