Posted 8 years ago
Once I got interested in jewellery I soon realised there was a much wider range of collecting and treasure hunting opportunities than the Art Nouveau / Art & Crafts stuff that I'd looked for in the past.
Georgian era jewellery is exquisitely hand made, including processes like chasing (engraving) and repousse (hammering out a design from the rear), and cannetille (fine raised wire work like filigree), and often pieces use combinations of, or all these processes together.
Mourning jewellery was the most common form for Late Georgian jewellery, but not every piece with a lock of hair in it is for mourning.
Another sentimental use of jewellery was the love token. A lock of hair in a locket was a keep-sake given by a lover or spouse, and the jewel that contained it was full of meaning for the giver and recipient.
The first one (second pic after the group of three) was bought off a blurry picture on an auction site. The seller didn't seem to notice how beautifully it was made, and also didn't realise that the gemstones Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Aquamarine, Ruby, Diamond spell out the acrostic message REGARD. Regard means "to see", and also means "love", so this is a love token with a rich range of meanings - "I saw you and fell in love", "I love to see you", and simply "I love you".
The locket includes raised cannetille work, and the fine frosted effect on the jeweled hand clasp is also a tour-de-force by a Georgian goldsmith.
The next (3rd pic) heart shaped love token locket was bought at an antique fair for close to the scrap value. The dealer had never noticed the hallmarks inside, including the Georgian duty mark, W for Birmingham 1820, and maker TN (probably the vinaigrette maker Thomas Newbold).
Again we see the superb craftsmanship of the period, with a classic combination of repousee work and chasing. It's also a great example of how jewelry of the time was poignant with meaning.
The locket is heart shaped, symbolizing love (of course). Bordering this on both sides are grape vines bearing fruit. One side has flowers set with pearls, the other flowers set with turquoise.
The grape vine signifies both victory and eternity. The pearl set flowers represent daisies, symbolizing purity, innocence, and loyal love. The turquoise flower is the forget-me-not, with a meaning of lasting true love. The snake chain is also part of the symbolism, as the snake is another symbol of eternity, and the clasp enameled with forget-me-not flowers completes the chain.
The last one is another REGARD locket, shown enlarged. This is only 20mm x 20mm, but the work is so fine it can only really be appreciated under 20x enlargement. Again this is on a snake chain, and with a hand closure. It was another piece bought at public auction in front of an under-appreciative audience who weren't looking far past its scrap value.
In a lifetime I'd feel lucky to find one of these, to have found three makes me wonder if there is some truth in the old saying "Good Things Come In Threes".