Eternal spring

Large shell gem of Flora as a brooch, Great Britain circa 1880

The pantheon of the ancient Romans and Greeks was allowed to serve as a source of inspiration for gem cutters throughout the 19th century. This gave rise to mythological motifs, which were usually cut into shells in the Bay of Naples, acquired as souvenirs and then set as jewellery in the travellers' home country. The present piece of jewellery shows a young woman in profile: it is Flora, the Roman goddess of youth, blossom, spring and fertility. With the Floralia, a festival celebrated by the Roman people, homage was paid to her every year between April and May. The goddess is always identified by the flowers woven into her hair, and this is how she meets us here. The profile of the flora stands out white against the rosy ground of the shell. Unusual and successful here is the particularly plastic elaboration of the roses, which are worked out three-dimensionally and pour over the hair and garment of the young goddess. The gem cutter skilfully used the multi-layered conch shell so that a darker layer also allows the roses to stand out in colour. Among all the flowers, roses in particular had special significance for the representation of Flora: "And as she spoke, she breathed forth spring roses from her mouth: chloris was I called Flora." Thus Ovid wrote of the goddess, who only in his verses is equated with the otherwise untraceable nymph Chloris. Even in the Victorian age, when the gem came into being, Ovid's verses were an important part of a classical education. In Great Britain, as the hallmarks reveal, the solid gold setting was then forged especially for the gem. It nestles snugly around the portrait and frames it with a simple, hand-engraved border of foliate ornamentation. We discovered this piece of jewellery in London.

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OUR PROMISE

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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