Preserving the past

Exquisite locket with hardstone cameo in gold, Paris around 1870

The European culture of the 19th century was characterized by a cult of friendship and feeling, which also found its NIederschlag in the field of jewellery. People exchanged locks of hair, which they carried in the form of jewelry, and attributed friendly and romantic meanings to certain gemstones and jewelry motifs. Around 1870, the locket in particular became a favorite, as it could be used to safely store photos, locks of hair and letters. Depending on taste and purse, the jewelers and goldsmiths of those years made very different pieces from tombac, silver or gold. The present locket is particularly elaborate and can be worn as a brooch as well as a pendant. A high-karat, solid gold frame is set with shimmering creamy-white natural pearls and accented at regular intervals by higher-set pearls in black enameled settings. At the center of the design is an intricately cut, detailed hardstone cameo, on the back of which the personal gem can be stored behind glass. Cameos were very popular throughout the 19th century, mostly depicting mythological figures or ancient deities. In the last third of the century, portraits of beautiful women dressed or coiffed in historical styles were increasingly found. People looked back to the past, seeking continuity and inspiration in equal measure. Especially for the locket, whose task it is to preserve memories, this seems appropriate. The young lady, presented here in classical profile, wears a luxuriant curly hairstyle with a puffed dress, as they were popular in 1780 and are familiar to us from the informal portraits of the late Ancien Régime. The fact that we see no necklace or earrings also corresponds to the staged naturalness that had become a dreamed-of ideal in those years, as it was in Marie Antoinette's time - and was in stark contrast to the reality of life for most women of the time. The beautiful locket is very well preserved. While the hardstone was probably cut in Idar-Oberstein, the goldsmith's work was subsequently made in Paris, as evidenced by the hallmarking.

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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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