Inspiration from ancient times

Decorative gold earrings, reconstruction from an antique brooch, around 1880 and later

Until the beginning of the 19th century, the forms of jewellery of classical antiquity were still unknown. Neither in the Renaissance, nor in Classicism had archaeological excavations produced genuine jewellery of antiquity. The designs of these epochs had been merely approximations of an ideal that had to be drawn from other contexts, such as architecture or sculpture. This changed abruptly with the discovery of genuine Etruscan jewellery in Italy from the 1820s onwards. Princess Alexandrine of Canino, for example, was known to enjoy wearing some original Etruscan jewelry found at her country estate near Rome, to the envy of her friends. However, the number of pieces, which were all chance finds, remained small and original, millennia-old Etruscan jewellery could still only be owned by a fraction of the ladies. Therefore, the goldsmiths of those years soon began to produce new jewelry according to now finally known ancient forms. Especially Pio Castellani from Rome and his sons excelled in this field and designed jewellery that from the middle of the century became a trademark and a true fashion known all over Europe. But also in the rest of Europe their works, which were quickly known under the term "archaeological style", were received with interest and merged with the forms of their own history. The pair of earrings here speaks the formal language of this fashion. Below an ear hoop with attached hemisphere, an ornate element is movably attached, showing cord soldering and coiled gold wires. Forming a semicircle at the bottom, long pendulums are movably attached and gold balls are attached. The earrings were probably created in recent decades from an antique brooch and an originally shorter pair of earrings as a mariage: The two richly ornamented tops were probably joined at their lower ends and framed a now lost round showpiece as a brooch. A skilled goldsmith separated them from each other and placed them there in a pair of earrings. With the pendulums below them, they now make a coherent design in late 19th century taste.

The late 19th century was infatuated with the past. Society was changing, industry had long since transformed the once tranquil towns into large metropolises, and new technologies such as the telegraph were bringing the world closer together. In this situation, citizens yearned for stability and reliability - and looked back to history to find role models for their own times. At the same time, fashions were now changing at an increasingly rapid pace. In earlier centuries, aesthetic preferences had changed only very slowly. In the 19th century, however, their change accelerated enormously. The history of jewelry knows as many fashions as generations in the hundred years between 1800 and 1900. At the beginning and end of the century, for example, white jewelry was in demand, richly set with diamonds. In the 1860s and 1870s, bold colors were in demand, preferably large, polished surfaces of yellow gold and intense colored stones.

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.