Guardian of the temples

Large micromosaic earrings from Italy, Grand Tour around 1860

The present micromosaics are souvenirs of a trip to Italy around 1860. Set in black glass and malachite, the oval micromosaics show two of the most famous ancient temples of the eternal city of Rome. From these pieces, found in London, we can study the enthusiasm of the British for travel, especially to the classical antiquities of Italy. No other nation went on the Grand Tour as often and as gladly as the wealthy English, and in high Victorian society a grand tour of Italy was part of good manners and the perfection of one's education. We see two famous temples of Rome in a wonderfully graduated color scheme that gives the pieces a beautiful plasticity. On one earring we see the Pantheon, dedicated to all the gods, and on the other another round temple. This is the sanctuary of Hercules Victor, built in 120 B.C. on the Forum Boarium, the ancient cattle market of Rome on the banks of the Tiber. At the time the earrings were made, around 1850, however, this attribution was still unknown and the temple was thought to be a sanctuary of Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home. This choice of image was therefore particularly suitable as a pair of earrings for the wife who stayed at home. The mosaics are preserved in their original gold setting. Simple hooks made of high-carat gold make the mosaics, which were created in the middle of the 19th century, wearable as impressively large earrings. A wonderful ear jewellery for all friends of Italy and a small feast for collectors of Grand Tour memorabilia.

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, this was done to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against the candle soot, moisture and dirt that 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.

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.