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Eye Miniature Necklace

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Georgian Jewelry42 of 128Victorian BroochElle Vous Va -- Acrostic Ring
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (103 items)

    I am an avid collector of eye portrait miniatures (known as lover's eyes, though this phrase is limited in its usage).

    The earliest recorded eye portraits painted in England were executed by Ozias Humphry for his patron the Duke of Dorset in 1773, though it is believed the fashion started earlier in France and then migrated to England. From that period until the mid-1800s, eye miniatures were popular and many were painted, some by great artists, others by technically competent, unknown workmen artists. They were set in rings, pendants, brooches, stickpins, canes, toothpick cases and snuff boxes. I have a pair of cufflinks, each with a different eye. These portraits commemorated love, friendship, family and death.

    During the late 1700s, the eye miniatures were smaller and often encased in a modified heart-shaped frame. Often the back enclosed a lock of hair. The frames might be plain, gem-set, or enameled with a lovely saying. For example, the eye to the right of the largest center heart is marked: Il Don de L'amitie "the gift of love" (or friendship). All of these eyes are hand-painted watercolor on ivory plaques.

    Over a period of years, I collected these smaller eyes when I could find them and finally had enough to mount them on a contemporary chain as a necklace (I considered period chains, but wanted one where the eyes wouldn't flip to the backside...). The result is as above! Sorry, the photo isn't all that terrific!

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    1. racer4four racer4four, 7 years ago
      A worthy use...looks great. Another thing I had not heard of. Thank you for your great posts and information.
      Eyes show the soul and all that!
    2. kyratango kyratango, 7 years ago
      As a mourning jewellery enthousiast, I admire such a collection!!! I've not been able to grasp one yet, but still hunting :-)
      I was questioning myself about the modern chain, but the practical reason is the thing, and after all, the pendants are the focal point!!!
    3. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      OMG - finding a genuine one of these is hard enough, you've got over a dozen.

      I bet it's "Eye catching" when worn!
    4. BelleEpoque BelleEpoque, 7 years ago
      Would love to see more of your collection!
    5. Zowie Zowie, 7 years ago
      Pretty & unusual
    6. Agram.m Agram.m, 7 years ago
    7. Peasejean55 Peasejean55, 7 years ago
      Wonderful information. The necklace is gorgeous, thanks for posting.
    8. Bluboi Bluboi, 7 years ago
      Belle, I added 3 more photos of eyes. All are watercolor painted on ivory. Starting to the right of the necklace:

      - Blue eye miniature set in gold and encased in a sphere of various colors of Scottish agate, circa 1820-1830.
      - Rare Georgian gold eye miniature cufflinks, one brown eye, and one blue eye with rose-cut diamond tear,; on the back, initials painted on ivory with hair surround, original cufflink mechanism circa 1780
      - Brown eye miniature mourning brooch surrounded by diamonds set in black enamel and with a split pearl border, circa 1820.
    9. kyratango kyratango, 7 years ago
      Never seen cufflinks with lover's eyes! These deserve their own post, would love seeing the reverse with hair and the mechanism.
      The ball is incredible too...
    10. tjong333, 2 years ago
      Absolutely stunning!

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