Memory of Etretat

Antique traditional costume necklace in the Bosse style of Normandy in silver, dated 1883

Normandy is one of the most traditional regions of France in terms of jewellery. Cross-shaped pendants, in particular, are found here in numerous forms and have been worn by the region's women as part of their costumes since the 18th century. One of the most famous cross pendants in Normandy is the so-called "Croix Bosse", i.e. a humped or bulging cross. These often very large pendants consist of two thin sheets of gold or silver pressed or chased into shape, which when brought together form a single, voluminous cross. Typically, such a cross was worn on a heart-shaped slider on a long gold chain placed several times around the neck. A fine example of such an 18th-century cross survives in the collection of the MUCEM in Paris (inv. no. 1936.387.1). For a long time, the use of these extraordinary crosses remained confined to Normandy. In the late 19th century, however, under the impact of the Great Exhibition in London of 1872, interest in the costume ornaments of one's own country, as well as of the more distant regions of Europe, grew throughout Europe. The rediscovery of the dirndl, for example, does not coincidentally fall into this period. And the Croix Bosse of Normandy now experienced a new fashion beyond the borders of Normandy. In fact, the necklace we have here was also made in the late 19th century, as evidenced by the engraving on the inside. Here we read the date of 23 November 1883 next to a Latin inscription: "Fortasse meminisse juvet"- "Perhaps it helps to remember". The design here arranges the spherical motif of the crosses into a necklace. Designs such as this were exported as far away as Britain at the time, where they were worn as so-called "Normand Jewellery"; we were actually able to purchase the piece in London. Thus the necklace tells a double story of memories, of the costume jewellery of Normandy, of its beginnings locally in the 18th century and its spread in the 19th century. Further information on the "Croix Bosse" can also be found on this website: On the significance of the 1872 World's Fair for the reception of traditional costume jewellery, especially in Great Britain, cf.Charlotte Gere/Judy Rudoe: Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, London: British Museum Press 2010, pp. 316-329. Jane Perry: The Victorian Passion for Peasant Jewellery, in Jewellery Studies 12 (2012), pp. 67-84.

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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.