Think Dynastically

Antique tiara with carved coral cameos, 1810s

In earlier times, precious hair ornaments were a natural part of any festive wardrobe. As a fitting complement to necklaces, brooches, rings and ear jewellery, splendid tiaras and combs were worn from the earliest times at court but also in the bourgeoisie. None of the elaborate hairstyles of the Rococo period, for example, is conceivable without jewels incorporated into them, but this tradition lived on well into the 20th century. We were able to find this extraordinary tiara for you in Spain. It presents eleven precious carved gems of Italian Mediterranean coral in a frame of gilded silver. Men and women face us, staggered in size towards the centre, wearing rich robes and - how appropriate - equally rich hairstyles. A second row of coral, now fashioned into faceted beads, completes the design below. The tiara was created in the 1810s. The rich style of the Rococo had given way to the austerity of Classicism at that time. Ornaments inspired by antiquity, such as palmettes and laurel branches, became fashionable. We see them used here as elements of the setting. Above all, however, it was the sculpture and history of Rome that became the model for Napoleon's contemporaries. The portraits carved from coral therefore show us, not without reason, a whole assembly of ancient ladies and gentlemen of various ages. The hairstyles of the men make us think of the emperors of Rome from the Antonine dynasty such as Marcus Aurelius, Verus and Commodus, thus directing our associations precisely to the heyday of the ancient Roman Empire. Who exactly is depicted cannot be clarified with absolute certainty. Presumably, however, this was not what mattered to the contemporaries. It was much more important to evoke the idea of a dynastic rule whose duration and splendour could endure the ages. After the turmoil of the Revolution in France, Napoleon had restored the imperial rule in France and in all countries of the continent new and old families of the nobility secured their social position. The wearer of the tiara could thus identify herself as part of a ruling elite - and at the same time revel in beauty. For dating see David Bennet and Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, Woodbridge 2010, p. 57, as well as with French examples Henri Vever: La bijouterie française au XIXe siècle (1800-1900), 3 vols., Paris 1906-1908, here vol. 1: Consulate - Empire - Restoration - Louis-Philippe, Paris 1906, plates after p. 76 and p. 85 respectively.

Genuine Italian Mediterranean corals still inspire today with their wonderfully rich play of colors with a pronounced wealth of variations. From the creamy white of the Adriatic coral to the delicate pink of the angel's skin coral or Pelle d'Angelo, light and dark salmon red hues to the strong dark red color known as oxblood or Moro coral, the natural material is characterized by the most beautiful colors that the sea can produce. For centuries an integral part of princely and later also bourgeois art chambers, coral jewellery, especially from the region around the Bay of Naples, enjoyed unprecedented popularity, particularly in the 19th century. The stocks of some coral species, which are now under strict protection, as well as the demand for natural corals, which has increased dramatically in recent years, make coral jewellery a sought-after treasure today more than ever. Experts are already talking about the "diamond of the future" as far as the value of Mediterranean corals is concerned. Only antique pieces or corals from old stock come onto the market today - the quantity is therefore limited and finite. So the value of corals can only increase!

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.


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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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