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Jaques & Marcus Brooch/Pendant with Opal Intaglio by Wilhelm Schmidt, circa 1890

In Fine Jewelry > Opal Jewelry > Show & Tell and Fine Jewelry > Victorian and Edwardian Jewelry > Show & Tell.
endeeringlyv…'s loves8 of 52Early Boudoir Style Cabinet Portrait CardLOUIS F. BERNEKER  -  THREE DANCERS  -  1920'S COLOR ART PRINT
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (117 items)

    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.

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    1. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      More information on this piece in the link below:

      Also some gorgeous John Singer Sargent portraits that show how this type of jewel would've been worn in the 1890's:

      Mrs. Joshua Montgomery Sears (Sarah Choate Sears), 1889

      Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, 1893

      Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler, 1893

    2. TassieDevil TassieDevil, 7 years ago
      Simply stunning Kiwi and a great write up and links as well !!!

      I would have loved this one.....local in Hobart.....did you see it?
    3. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      Hi Tassie, no didn't see that one, it's great piece, I'd love an item by Mrs N!
    4. TassieDevil TassieDevil, 7 years ago
      It didn't even sell for all that much at the last Gowans auction for 2016......which I forgot to look at online......not that I would have bid anyway Christmas budget doesn't stretch that far!
    5. antiquerose antiquerose, 7 years ago
      ............Oh my, I am drooling...........Stunning!!!!!!!!!
    6. martika martika, 7 years ago
      WOW !!! What a gorgeous piece !!!
    7. Agram.m Agram.m, 7 years ago
      Gorgeous sparkling jewel !
    8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 7 years ago
      AMAZING !!!
    9. Manikin Manikin, 7 years ago
      Wow !!!!!!!! breathtaking
    10. Bluboi Bluboi, 7 years ago
      As always, beautiful and educational at the same time. Thank you Paul!
    11. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      Hi all, thanks for the kind comments and loves. A bit more about Jaques & Marcus and their use of opals:

      From the time of their launch J&M set about promoting colored gems as a point of difference to the diamonds and pearls that dominated the jewelry of the time.

      In the year they opened (1882) they published a booklet "Something About Neglected Gems" extolling the virtues of Zircon, Chrysoberyl, Tourmaline, Opal, Sapphire, Garnet, Beryl, Peridot and Spinel, see:

      Opals later became a signature stone for Marcus & Co., however the interest in opals clearly dated from the J&M days, because in 1886 J&M published the poem "The Birth of the Opal" by the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, (1850-1919) see:

      Certainly by the time of Marcus & Co the firm was positioning itself as the premier supplier of opals in the USA, and in 1908 they advertised in the New York Times that they had acquired "the entire last year's output" of Black Opals from Lightning Ridge.

      At the moment the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College is digitizing the Jaques & Marcus workbooks and I'm waiting with bated breath to see if this piece is illustrated and whether there's any additional info to be discovered.
    12. sbsmith, 2 years ago
      Hello! Just wondering whether the provenance helped the attribution to Schmidt? Working on studying this company for the Met here in New York. Thank you!
    13. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 2 years ago
      Hi sbsmith, attribution to Schmidt is circumstantial as none of his piece were signed. However in my opinion it's very strong based on the details I outline in

      The authority on Schmidt was the late Gertrud Seidmann in her article "Wilhelm Schmidt, The Last Neo-Classical Gem Engraver", in Apollo Magazine No. 317 in July 1988. I showed a couple of scans from that article here:

      I don't think there can be any doubt that the famous Marcus "Dawn" opal cameos were by Schmidt. These Dawn opal cameos were discussed at some length here:

      I would be very interested in seeing the outcome any research on Jules & Marcus and happy to correspond directly, my email is rennes at xtra dot co dot nz
    14. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 2 years ago
      cheers all, this comment is just a placeholder to restore notifications
    15. kivatinitz kivatinitz, 1 year ago
      a jewel for a princess

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