A trip into the past

Splendid lapis lazuli brooch in gold, Vienna circa 1875

Even in earlier times, fashions changed with beautiful regularity, as they do today. At the beginning and end of the 19th century, for example, white jewellery, richly set with diamonds, was in demand. In the 1860s and 1870s, on the other hand, strong colours set the tone, preferably large, polished surfaces of yellow gold and intense coloured stones. The brooch presented here exemplifies this fashion. Its basic shape is the circle, similar to a medieval brooch. Like a hemisphere, the brooch stretches up from the base and carries a large polished bouton of lapis lazuli in its center. Fine ornaments of twisted gold threads and small balls of gold occupy the surface in a star-shaped ornament. The design is intended to be very sculptural. The surface, a kind of dome, is cut inwards around the lapis. The surface is polished here and so the wavy setting of the lapis lazuli is reflected in the inwardly curved surface of gold. This gives the brooch a very special, spatial effect, because the reflection moves with every change of the observer's point of view. The large and richly ornamented brooch was created in Vienna, in the years around 1875. It is in first-class condition, even the original fine gold plating can still be seen in its wonderful velvety surface: A real stroke of luck.

Lapis lazuli has been prized for its unique color since ancient times. The stone, mined in the mountains of Afghanistan since ancient times, is not only used for jewelry, but at least as often ground as a precious painting pigment. Artists such as Giotto and Michelangelo used lapis lazuli for their incomparable masterpieces, the blue of which inspires with its fresh luminosity centuries later. Michael Baxandall, in his famous book "The Reality of Images. Painting and Experience in Renaissance Italy," described how in Renaissance Florence artists and patrons had detailed contracts stipulate how much lapis pigment should be used for, say, the mantle of the Madonna in a fresco. Because the pigment was so extraordinarily expensive, its purchase represented a large part of the expenditure on the work, sometimes costing more than the artist received for his work. The colour came to Europe chiefly through Venice, where it was known as "azurro ultramarine" - "the blue from beyond the sea". Even today, the name ultramarine blue is derived from this designation.

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.