Caput Mundi

Finely crafted pendant with micromosaic from Rome, around 1830

An exquisite mosaic from the mid-19th century, a souvenir from a Grand Tour of Italy is the focal point of the pendant here. From a slightly elevated vantage point, we look down on St. Peter's Basilica with its square in front. To the right and left, Bernini's colonnades frame the view; to the right, in the background, we see the papal palace. In the middle rises the ancient obelisk, in the top of which, according to legend, the ashes of Caesar are kept and which promises "indulgenza plenaria", i.e. eternal indulgence, if one touches it. Made of tiny glass stones, finely graded in colour and extremely rich in detail - micromosaics like this one have always been sought-after pieces of art and collectors' items, which are not only impressive in terms of their craftsmanship but have also always been proof of a certain connoisseurship. Executed at a time when a trip to Italy cost a small fortune and the picture postcard for the dear ones at home had not yet been invented, souvenirs like this were exactly what wealthy travelers acquired in Rome. Alongside engravings by Piranesi and original Roman antiquities or their plaster casts, the micromosaic developed into the must-have of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the era of the great educational journeys. The pendant here also dates from that period. It sets the mosaic in high karat gold and is to be worn as a pendant. We have added a matching new gold chain.

The origin of the art of micromosaic lies in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks existed since the 16th century. Initially, to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against candle soot, moisture and dirt, which the many pilgrims brought into the church. Later, after this task was completed, further copies of paintings were made as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewellery and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. As part of the Grand Tour, countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city, creating a great demand for souvenirs. Not least to serve this market, a whole new art form emerged: micromosaics are small and portable, and were therefore particularly suited to being taken back home to the north. Since they also usually show the beauties of Rome or motifs from antiquity, their success as travel souvenirs is hardly surprising. The "invention" of the micromosaic is associated above all with Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti, who perfected this technique around 1775. They founded a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such a richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today, corresponding mosaics are produced in Rome, albeit in significantly lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaics the relevant literature: Maria Grazia Branchetti: Mosaici minuti romani, Rome 2004, with many works by Giacomo Raffaelli, as well as Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001.

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.