Posted 6 years ago
Christmas is a great time for treasure hunting. Dealers bring out their star pieces hoping to get the best prices, Auction houses have special Xmas sales, and Private sellers try to raise some cash to help pay for their Christmas cheer.
And collectors can justify a big purchase as a Christmas present. This was a great score to end 2016, spotted on-line just a few days before Xmas.
This "Gilded Age" opal, diamond and natural pearl combination brooch/pendant is by Jaques & Marcus (founded in New York in 1882). J&M was the original firm that became Marcus & Co in 1892. Total width is 36.6mm, the opal is about 16 x 7.5mm.
The opal is carved intaglio with the goddess Vesta opposite her sacred flame in the inner sanctum of her temple, located in the Roman Forum. The carving is by Wilhelm Schmidt, the last neo-classical gem engraver.
The crystal opal can only be from White Cliffs (NSW, Australia), where this type of opal was first discovered in 1889, and since J&M changed its name in 1892 this dates the piece as 1889 to 1892.
Further info on Jaques & Marcus and my interpretation of the intaglio carving is in the link in the first comment below, I'll also link to some gorgeous John Singer Sargent portraits that show how this type of jewel would've been worn in the 1890's.