Antique mourning brooch with onyx and enamel in gold, around 1853 and later
Like history itself, the stories of antique jewellery are full of transformations. The present brooch, for example, began as a gift: a certain John Rae, a namesake of the famous explorer, gave it to his mother, Mrs. William Rae, on 1 January 1853. The surname suggests that the Raes were based in Scotland. It was probably a souvenir ornament to commemorate someone who had died, as black enamel adorns the base of the vine ornaments. Perhaps it was John's father William who was once commemorated here. Originally, the brooch for this purpose probably held a jar in its center that safely contained a lock of hair. However, at some point the delicate hair inlay was damaged and so a later owner inserted a large onyx cabochon, with a late 19th century appliqué of two hearts beneath a love knot, to keep alive the memory of the deceased and to emphasise the enduring love for him. This transformation of the brooch explains why, although the framing of the brooch is designed in a manner typical of the Middle 19th century, the central cabochon displays characteristics of the late 19th century. And not least, why in a moment of inattention the onyx was not set in the same orientation as the inscription. Thus the brooch, which once arose from the grief of two spouses, to this day also tells of a marriage on a second level - for the combination of elements of different pieces of jewellery to form a new, whole, is also known as a "Mariage".
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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.