Heart Flower

Magnificent Art Nouveau necklace with diamonds and natural pearl in platinum, circa 1905

Once the clock struck twelve on New Year’s Eve in 1899, a new century would begin – but jewellery and fashion continued the trends which had already arisen within the last few months and even years of the late 19th century. The taste for lavish pieces set with innumerable diamonds in white precious metal, those we know as typical Belle Époque pieces today, only grew intensified. Technical innovation, however, made it possible to refine those white jewels which had been popular even in the last decade of the 19th century. Brooches, tiaras, devant-de-corsages, necklaces: due to the use of platinum, goldsmiths found themselves able to execute these designs much more delicately, since the precious white metal is far harder than gold and thus holds even the most delicate shapes securely. And then of course, Art Nouveau was, by then, established enough to make its way even into the designs of Haute Joaillerie, where it merged with the bows, flowers and foliate scrolls of the garland style. The pendant necklace at hand is a typical piece of the early years of the 20th century. Around 5.70 ct of white diamonds are set in platinum on gold. The largest one, an old mine cut diamond, dates further back in time than the piece itself: when it was commissioned, its first owner seems to have made use of a diamond from an older family heirloom, as was very common at the time. A large natural pearl, which would have been priced at its own weight in diamonds in the years around 1900, completes the piece. The airy, floral curves of the design hint at the influence of Art Nouveau. The pendant is mounted on a fine chain. Its back shows earlier mounts possibly for wear as a brooch; it is quite common for precious pieces to have had interchangeable mounts that allowed its owner multiple possibilities to wear it. Sometime after its creation, as the option became available, the pendant was rhodium-plated, giving it an even brighter appearance.

With the invention of gaslight and then electric light at the end of the 19th century, glistening brightness suddenly filled the ballrooms of Europe. No more dark, yellow candlelight, but the white glow of hundreds of lamps made the ladies' jewellery shine and glitter as never before. It is no wonder that a new fashion emerged as a result of these developments: white jewels made of diamonds and silver responded to the new lighting conditions and replaced the previous more colourful designs. In general, jewellery was increasingly richly set with sparkling gems to create an ever more luxurious and rich appearance. At the great balls in Paris, London and St. Petersburg, ever more magnificent diamond necklaces were presented, as well as tiaras, brooches and rings, all dreams in white diamonds. The name of the era, the Belle Époque, still indicates the goal of the period: To shine in beauty. But the fashion for white jewellery also remained current in the following decades, right up to the Art Déco of the 1920s. Only the materials of the settings changed. The rapidly tarnishing silver was first replaced by platinum settings and later by jewellery made entirely of platinum or white gold, which was developed shortly after the World War.

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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.

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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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