appearance and reality

Antique gold brooch in the style of realism, Vienna, around 1875

The middle of the 19th century experienced a fashion in the field of jewellery which must seem rather strange to us today: Realism. Just as in literature and painting, designers turned to the hitherto neglected things of life and did everything they could to make new objects of the changing world usable in the field of jewellery. The background was the industrialization of the 19th century. Machines changed the world of work, the railways revolutionised transport and technical innovations followed at breakneck speed. The people of the time were well aware of the scope of the development. Partly perceived as a crisis, partly celebrated as progress, mechanization was also reflected in jewelry design. Thus we find elements such as gears, flanges, spindles and screws on display - and thus the aesthetics of modernity, of machines received. The works of the Parisian jeweller Félix Duval from the years after 1861 were the model for this design method, but in the German countries, too, designs were made in this way, as we can see, for example, in Brigitte Marquardt. Jewellery. Realismus und Historismus. 1850-1895. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Munich 1998, p. 50ff, p. 276. This technical jewellery, however, in its simplicity and functionality, seems to have found little favour with the public and the trend lasted only a few years. This makes jewellery as well preserved as the brooch in gold here all the rarer. The cross-mounted design claims to offer a glimpse into a box of crocodile leather. The two triangular flaps of leather are turned to the right and left and fixed with screws. They reveal a glimpse of a gleaming red gemstone in a typical period claw setting. However, anyone who thinks they are looking at a ruby will be deceived. Just as the leather is not made of crocodile and the screw cannot be turned, the ruby is also made of a different material than it pretends to be. It is made of glass and brings the game with appearance and reality, with nature reproduction and imitation to the extreme. According to its hallmarks, the brooch was made in Vienna. Due to its workmanship, the hallmarks and the design it was made around 1875. It is very well preserved.

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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.

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.


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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.

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