The Goddess of Love

Exceptional Lagestone Gem of Venus in Gold & Diamonds, circa 1875

The mythological world of the ancient Greeks and Romans was still omnipresent to contemporaries in the late 19th century. As with the languages of flowers and precious stones, the mythological figures were also able to express the wishes, feelings and characteristics of the givers and recipients in a richly relatable way - to be read by every educated citizen, but still wrapped in allegory just enough to satisfy the strict corset of rules and moral sensibilities of the time. The present brooch may once have been a gift of love, for it depicts Venus, the goddess of love. In a richly detailed cut, the gem shows the youthful goddess as she rises from the waves, carried by a shell. A delicate antique garment wraps around her figure, which stands out white against the red ground. Dolphins cavort at her feet, artfully cut into a higher layer of the stone and showing themselves in a rust-red colour. The choice of the red Lagestone is unusual, even rare, but quite explainable: already in the 19th century, the colour was considered to be that of passionate love. The red rose and the red ruby, for example, are described in contemporary sources as symbols of love. The gem, cut in masterly detail, is crowned by a golden, pearl-studded bow, with diamond-studded silver garlands entwining along the sides of the setting. Downward, a half wreath of natural pearls with enamel accents completes the design. The use of the pearl may also have sprung from a symbolic consideration: Among the many associations that this particular natural material has always attracted was that with the goddess of love herself, as both were born from the shell. The gem, which can be worn as a brooch, also fulfils this motivically and materially charged meaning in terms of content: for on the back it bears a gold-framed glass frame behind which a picture, a lock of hair or a small letter from a loved one can be inserted. This medallion compartment is not visible from the outside, and so it and its contents remain the secret of the wearer. This piece of jewellery is a rare and particularly beautiful example of such a Lagenstein gem and has been excellently preserved in museum quality to this day. For a similarly mounted gemstone parure from the 1870s, see David Bennet and Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, Woodbridge 2010, p.143.

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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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