Perfection of the Sea: Shell Motif Antique Earrings
The nautilus shell has often used as a symbol for the passage of time and the perfection of the beauty found in nature. Since ancient times the pearl has also been incorporated as an icon for unblemished perfection. No better a union for what has come to be traditionally referred to as “wedding jewelry” worn by the bride or given as bridal gifts. The Victorians truly favored the look of these delicate and lace-like pieces against the skin.
Classically strung using cat gut on a mother of pearl backing, natural seed pearls have been intricately hand woven into the shape of nautilus shells to form a marvelous pair of double cluster drop earrings. Serving as the surmount, the smaller assemblage is joined to the larger by two double strands of seed pearls to allow gentle swaying. Every single pearl was hand strung and individually knotted to provide the flexibility necessary for such a design.
Owing to the nature of hand work one earring measures 2-1/2 inches in length and the other 2-3/8 inches including ear fittings by 1 inch at the widest (6.4 and 6.0 cm long by 2.5 cm width). In very good condition; beading is all intact and secure; later restoration of the four connecting strands; an addition of later 14k gold ear wires. Dates to circa 1850 - 1860 and is most likely English in origin.