Winning and losing

Antique micromosaics from Rome in gold earrings, c. 1880/2020

Two special places of Rome are presented by the pair of earrings here. We see a temple and the Colosseum, a place of the gods and a place of bloody games. What connects the two? The circular temple built in 120 BC on the Forum Boarium, the ancient cattle market of Rome on the banks of the Tiber is the place of consecration of Hercules Victor, the victorious Hercules. And the gladiators also fought for victory or death in the largest arena of antiquity. The two mosaics made of fine glass sesserae show the buildings in a warm, spring-like light. The sun gently illuminates the cloudless sky and vegetation covers the ground around the ancient buildings, just as they were presented to visitors to the Eternal City 100 years ago. The mosaics are set in black glass, which makes them shine even brighter, and perfectly preserved. Our goldsmiths have set the mosaics, which came to us without settings, in yellow gold frames and made them into earrings. To do this, they used two late 19th century shirt buttons as tops. These originally adorned shirt breasts or cuffs of a gallant gentleman who was partial to modern art movements. Now they are fitted with ear studs safe to wear on the ear. A pair that combines old and new, winning and losing.

The origin of the art of micromosaic lies in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks existed since the 16th century. Initially, this was done to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against the candle soot, moisture and dirt that the many pilgrims brought into the church. Later, after this task was completed, further copies of paintings were made as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewellery and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. Countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city as part of the Grand Tour, creating a huge demand for souvenirs. Not least to serve this market, a whole new art form emerged: micromosaics are small and portable, and were therefore particularly suited to being taken back home to the north. Since they also usually show the beauties of Rome or motifs from antiquity, their success as travel souvenirs is hardly surprising. The "invention" of the micromosaic is associated above all with Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti, who perfected this technique around 1775. They founded a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such a richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today, corresponding mosaics are produced in Rome, albeit in significantly lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaics the relevant literature: Maria Grazia Branchetti: Mosaici minuti romani, Rome 2004, with many works by Giacomo Raffaelli, as well as Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001.

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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.


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.