Large Pietra Dura brooch in gold, Florence circa 1870
The Romans once named the city of Florence on the banks of the Arno after the Roman goddess of flowers and growth "Florentia". How fitting then seems the wonderful depiction of a lushly blooming bouquet of flowers with roses, showy bindweed, nightshade and forget-me-nots - executed in a technique that was invented in Renaissance Florence and is still executed there today. Mosaic in "pietra dura" (it. "hard stone") is a Florentine craft in which images and ornaments are composed of suitably cut elements of various precious stones in an inlay-like manner. Unlike the classic mosaic art of colored cubes or pins, the Pietra Dura process uses precisely matched shaped pieces that are cut according to the corresponding fields of the preparatory drawing. In this way, decorative display surfaces are created, made entirely of decorative stones. The heyday of the Pietra Dura craft in Florence occurred in the 16th century, when not only the famous Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo was decorated, but also numerous pieces of furniture, jewelry and altars were decorated with this elaborate and costly technique. Still today, in Via degli Alfani 78, you can find the "Opificio delle Pietre Dure", a workshop specialized in the production of works of art in Pietra Dura. A fine example of inlaid work in Pietra Dura is this 19th century brooch. With a simple setting of high karat gold, this piece of jewelry, made around 1870, can be worn as a brooch. Against the black ground of onyx, the oval field shows a fine composition of different flowers. Thus, we see the flowers made of various gemstones, while the foliage is designed of jade. The stones are chosen to create a naturalistic impression of the plants - a small masterpiece of illusionism. The Florentine work once found its way to England in a traveler's luggage, as the city on the Arno was a popular destination for Victorian travelers. No wonder, then, that we discovered this beautiful gem in London, where it has survived the last 150 years unscathed.
Pietra Dura jewelry has therefore been a popular souvenir from every visit to Florence since the Renaissance. Especially in the 19th century, in the age of the Grand Tour, the young nobles from Northern Europe brought corresponding pieces from their extended trip to Italy back home, to bring the beauty and artistry of Italy to those at home.
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.