Glorious past

Antique micromosaic with a view of the Forum Romanum in silver, around 1880

Sic transit gloria mundi! - Thus passes the glory of the world! What could remind us more of the greatness, the glory and the fall of the great powers and the great ideas than a visit to the Roman Forum in the heart of Rome? Among all the remains of that great civilization of antiquity, some columns stand out in particular: they are the remains of the temple of Vespasian and Titus, three columns about 15 meters high under a piece of beams, which seem to have defied the decay and the rigors of the times for almost 2000 years, unimpressed. To seem, mind you: for in fact we can admire the columns, as also shown in the fine micromosaic here, only since 1811. Before that they were almost completely buried by earth and rubble. It was only at the beginning of the new century that they were uncovered, restored and made visible again. On the left edge we continue to see the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus, erected in 203 AD, while on the left edge the columns of the temple of Saturn rise. A single column can be seen in the background. It was erected in 608 AD by the Byzantine emperor Phocas and is the last ancient monument to be added to the Forum. Our brooch was made in the years around 1880 and was certainly once a souvenir of a trip to the Eternal City. The brooch is very well preserved and came to us from Munich.

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 to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against candle soot, moisture and dirt, which 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.

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.