Like from the Arabian Nights

Antique garnet brooch with crescent moon & star, around 1870

Pieces of jewellery with oriental symbols such as the star and the crescent moon are evidence of the Oriental fashion of the mid-19th century. In contrast to the centuries before, when the Turks still stood before Vienna in the 18th century, the Ottoman Empire was no longer seen as a threat, but as a desirable, foreign and exotic counterpart. Especially after Prussia's closing of ranks with the Ottomans in the Crimean War of the 1850s, people loved the Orient with all its foreign characteristics, which was then extensively travelled and explored. Jewellery like this garnet brooch illustrates this orientalism just like the great paintings of the art exhibitions of those years. The brooch is wonderfully present in the form of a large crescent moon from which an eight-pointed star grows. The crescent moon has a special significance in Islam, as the Islamic year is based on the lunar calendar and numerous religious festivals and other dates are connected with the appearance of the new moon. The fasting month of Ramadan also begins with the appearance of the crescent moon. The dark red garnets in various old cuts show the range of the gemstone cutters of Bohemia: Especially admirable on this brooch are the large table cuts, set in tombac, typical of the period. Created around 1870, we have before us a piece of jewelry of beautiful quality that evokes memories of the Thousand and One Nights and the fairy tales of the Orient.

Today, garnets from Bohemia are among the classics among jewellery pieces, but the dark red gemstone did not make its grandiose triumphant advance in jewellery fashion until relatively late, namely in the second half of the 19th century. As so-called "carbuncle stones" they were attributed magical powers in the Middle Ages and they appear in the literature of the time as "Bohemian fire dragons", which further underpins their mystical charge. After being mined in Bohemian mines for centuries, garnets went completely out of fashion in the years around 1800. This changed abruptly when Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) visited the crown land of Bohemia on her honeymoon in 1854 and was presented with some of the treasures from the Bohemian mines. From these garnets the empress had an entire parure, i.e. an extensive set of jewellery, made and presented herself in the splendour of the garnets to Viennese society at a court ball. The very next day - or so the story goes - a veritable run on jewellery with the fire dragons broke out. All the ladies of Vienna wanted to own Bohemian garnet jewellery. This enthusiasm for the dark red stone then spread like wildfire throughout Europe and the hitherto poor Bohemia experienced a great flourishing due to the strong demand for garnets.

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.


OUR PROMISE

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.

Play