5.11.12

19th-20th centuries jewelry from the British museum

My next post dedicated to the British museum's jewelry collection is about 19th - 20th century jewelry. There are some really stunning and unique pieces and I will strart with my favourite one

Set of coral jewelry. Italian, 1860. This luxurious five-piece set with tiara, bracelet,necklace, brooch and earrings, is a remarkable survival. It is carved entirely from pale pink coral, known as "angel's skin", whick was highly prized in the mid-19th century and much more expensive than dark red coral. Coral has amuletic properties and has been worn for centuries to ward off evil. It the early 19th century strings of large coral beads were widespread. This, however, is an exquisitely decorative piece: the motifs echo the marine origins of coral - mermaids, tritons, dolphins, shells, hippocamps.

Seed pearl and garnet necklace. English, early 19th century.

Set of "French jet" jewelry. English, 1867. Black glass jewelry introduced from France in the 1820s was a popular alternative to jet for mourning jewelry.

Gold and diamond necklace with "Pompeian-style" medallions. French, 1867-73. Here enamel medallions inspired by the Roman wall-paintings at Pompeii are combined with pendant drops and butterflies taken from Hellenistic Greek fringe necklaces.

This one is rather weird piece of jewelry but was quite popular at the time. Necklace of humming birds' heads. English, 1865-70. This startling jewel incorporates feathers from the heads of green and scarlet hummingbirds, imported from Brazil for costume and accessories.

Tiger-claw brooch with portrait of a tiger. English, 1870. The tiger-claw is traditionally a potent amulet in India, believed to deflect evil spirits and impart the tiger's strenght to the wearer. Tiger-claws were often brought back as souvenirs of big-game hunting and mounted as jewels.



Flower and plants jewelry. 1840-60. The accurate representation of flowers and plants created the fashion for message jewelry based on the "Language of Flowers" much studied in the 18th and 19th centuries. The meaning would have been immediately understood by both giver and receiver. The search for appropriate materials the express the fragile delicacy of the natural world let to experiments with colouring and texturing precious metals, while coloured stones and organic materials such as shell and coral were used to achive lifelike effects.

Four hardstones butterflies, mid-19th century. Stained agates and bloodstone in gold filigrain and silver settings.

Ram's head bangle. Italian, 1870. Gold with beading, pattern grainwork and wirework, and applied chased leaves.


Winged dragons brooches, late 19th century.

Ruby and diamond bangle. Cartier, 1937. The central motif with cabochon rubies set in gold is Indian. The back is enamelled with flowers. To set off this antique Indian ornament Cartier created a contrast: an up-to-date asyimmetrical rigid scroll, edged with geometric baton diamonds. The two rows of strung ruby beads preserve the Indian character of the central motif.


Set of ruby and diamonds buttons. Mounted in platinum. Made probably in India in the Western taste. About 1930-40.

Necklace and earrings. Cartier, 1937. The cabochon emeralds inlaid with ruby and diamond flowers are Indian work of the 19th century, set in Western style with baton diamonds.



You may also like Ancient jewelry from the British museum collection
Ethnic jewelry of the Tibeto-Nepalese
Nepalese glass beads jewelry

1 comment: