Keep your emotions in check?

Victorian brooch with shell gem of cupid in pinchbeck, England circa 1860

Victorian England was infatuated with gem ornaments. Unlike earlier eras, when gems were kept in locked cabinets and delighted only the collector, they were now meant to be worn and admired by all as transportable works of art. The present brooch, dating from around 1860, is such a piece. Cut from two-tone shell, the oval gem presents a motif from the world of the gods of classical antiquity, arguably the richest source of inspiration for 19th century gem cutters. High on her chariot we see the winged Cupid, the Roman god of love. It seems as if the young boy is having difficulty taming the two fiery steeds that are rearing wildly in their bridles. They symbolize the unbridled power of emotions with which the thoroughly notorious god is wont to throw the mortal world into disarray with romantic surges of feeling. Cupid's escapades were among the most popular subjects of the gem cutters, who, as in this case, were probably based on the Bay of Naples. An elaborate setting of gilt pinchbeck (see "Learn more...") holds the shell gem and makes it wearable as a brooch.

A rather forgotten chapter in the history of jewellery today are the many substitutes for the expensive precious metals gold and silver that have been used over the centuries. In the 19th century, for example, gold was often replaced by brass, i.e. various alloys of copper and zinc. The London watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck (ca. 1670 - November 18, 1732) invented a special alloy named after him, whose color was particularly close to gold and from then on became especially popular in England.

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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.