Where mermaid song was heard

Double row necklace of Mediterranean coral in course, around 1900

"Behold this lovely structure, which I consecrate to thee as a gift; Red branches from the sea's depths Gave the fabric to the row of pearls That, for the ornament of glad youth, Where the mermaid's song was heard, "The diver has wrested from the mighty coral tree From a mighty coral tree!" (Jeanette Bramer: "Begleitgedichte zu Gegenständen aus des Goldschmieds edler Werkstatt", Deutsche Goldschmiede-Zeitung No. 15, 1910, p. 136.) For centuries, coral jewellery was not only an ornamental treasure, but also associated with numerous legends. Mined from the depths of the Mediterranean, this material has always carried mysterious associations with it. The origin of coral, for example, is said to have come about when Perseus cut off the head of the Gorgon Medusa on the seashore: Her blood is said to have dripped onto the seaweed and turned it into a red, hard coral tree, just as her gaze had previously turned people into stone. Long reserved for the art chambers of princes, this gift of the sea reached wide circles of the middle classes as the 19th century progressed. Coral, mined on the coasts of Italy, was considered a distinct summer jewel, exotic and wearable at the same time. Since it did not sparkle as festively as diamonds and was not as heavy as gold, its impression was a light, cheerful one, and it became accepted as daytime jewellery. The present coral necklace also dates from this period. It consists of two strands of different lengths worn quite close to the neck. The pearls of Mediterranean coral (so-called Corallo Sciacca, see "Learn more") are of a vivid salmon colour and arranged in a progression so that a particularly large pearl forms the centre of each strand. A silver clasp, set with a shiny coral bouton, also adorns the nape of the neck, so that the necklace can also be worn with an updo in high temperatures. We were able to discover this beautifully preserved turn-of-the-century souvenir here in Berlin.

In July 1831, an undersea volcano erupted in front of the town of Sciacca on the southern coast of Sicily. Fishermen watched the explosions and were astonished to discover that the volcano had formed a new island. Immediately when the eruptions ended, a fierce dispute broke out over which country the new island should belong to. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies considered it a natural part of its territory and named it Ferninandea after its king, Ferdinand II. However, Britain also claimed the new land, strategically located on important shipping routes, and named it Graham Island. The French fleet also claimed the island, which it called Julia, and Spain also laid claim to it. The dispute was finally settled by nature: in 1832, the waves had already eroded the island to such an extent that it sank into the sea and was only preserved as a shoal. But what does this have to do with corals? The repeated submarine volcanic eruptions and numerous earthquakes had caused large amounts of corals to die, which formed one of the richest deposits in the entire Mediterranean. These subfossil corals had taken on a salmon hue from storage in the water that made them distinctive. This treasure of the sea was discovered in 1875 when Bettu Ammareddu, captain of a trawler, was fishing on the shoal that was once the island. In the process, his necklace, which he had received as a gift from his sweetheart, fell into the water. When he dove for the necklace he found that the seabed was covered all over with coral. Soon the mining of the corals began, but in 1915 the deposits were completely exhausted.

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.


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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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