A flowery souvenir

Vintage gold ring with Biedermeier micromosaic, circa 1830/1980

Hardly a trip takes place without buying a souvenir. Everyone knows the pretty bottles of olive oil from Greece, the limoncello from Sorrento or the ceramics from Sardinia, which you bring back to your loved ones at home or even to yourself from the sunny weeks of the year. That was not much different 200 years ago than it is today. The ring here bears witness to this, as it presents a fragrant bouquet of flowers in its centre, which was probably once such a souvenir from a trip to Italy. It is a fine micromosaic in a frame of dark blue opaque glass. Roses and other flowers are tied into a bouquet. Small, multi-coloured glass sesserae form the depiction; a border of so-called "murines", multi-coloured patterned glass elements, is set around the outside of the arrangement as a frame. The mosaic from the first half of the 19th century was probably not always part of a ring. The yellow gold ring setting, although designed in the forms of historic Biedermeier jewelry, is probably more recent. Perhaps the mosaic was part of a larger piece of jewellery, a necklace or bracelet that could no longer be worn, or of which parts were missing - now as a ring, the mosaic is once again wearable and invites you on a journey in thought to the warm south and the blooming parks of the Eternal City.

The origin of the art of micromosaic lies in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks existed since the 16th century. Initially, to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against candle soot, moisture and dirt, which the many pilgrims brought into the church. Later, after this task was completed, further copies of paintings were made as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewellery and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. Countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city as part of the Grand Tour, creating a huge demand for souvenirs. Not least to serve this market, a whole new art form emerged: micromosaics are small and portable, and were therefore particularly suited to being taken back home to the north. Since they also usually show the beauties of Rome or motifs from antiquity, their success as travel souvenirs is hardly surprising. The "invention" of the micromosaic is associated above all with Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti, who perfected this technique around 1775. They founded a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such a richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today, corresponding mosaics are produced in Rome, albeit in significantly lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaics the relevant literature: Maria Grazia Branchetti: Mosaici minuti romani, Rome 2004, with many works by Giacomo Raffaelli, as well as Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001.

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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.

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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.