Mansions built by Nature's hand

British pea necklace with hand clasp from Pinchbeck, around 1820

The stars are mansions built by Nature's hand, And, haply, there the spirits of the blest Dwell, clothed in radiance, their immortal vest.... (William Wordsworth) There is hardly a piece of jewellery that is as typical for British jewellery of the early 19th century as the long belcher chain, made of large links and a decorative clasp. Stars, circles, stripes or dots form in endless variation the patterns of the mostly embossed, often also engraved or punched out links. Small hands or barrels, equally finely ornamented, form the clasps. In their standard work Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830, Woodbridge 2007, Ginny Reddington Dawes and Olivia Collings illustrate a multitude of these chains on p.12 and p. 36. They were mostly made of gold, more rarely of silver, but often also of base material such as pinchbeck and were an indispensable part of the daily wardrobe of the lady of rank. The necklace shown here is exactly such a piece and was made in the years around 1820. The necklace is made of pinchbeck, a base brass alloy, and has a fine gold overlay. The clasp, shaped like a hand, bears a finger ring and seems to want to hand us a golden ball. Its cuff shines brightly through an overlay of silver. The chain links, in turn, glow in a warm golden hue and bear a never-ending roundelay of stars. We discovered the necklace in London. It is very well preserved and a special testimony from the time of William Wordsworth, Mary Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridges.

A rather forgotten chapter of jewellery history today are the many substitutes for the expensive precious metals gold and silver that have been used over the centuries. The names of these inventions are legion, perhaps you have heard of Tombak or Alpacca, German silver or Argentan? In the 19th century, gold was often replaced by brass, alloys of copper and zinc. The London watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck (ca. 1670 - November 18, 1732) invented a special alloy named after him, whose color was particularly close to gold and from then on became especially popular in England. On Christopher Pinchbek see Ginny Reddington Dawes / Olivia Collings: Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830, Woodbridge 2007, p. 80 pp. 39f.

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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.


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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.

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