Dated Stuart Crystal Brooch - C. 1681
With the execution of Charles I in 1649, one of the Stuart Monarchs, tokens of loyalty to the slain king were distributed and worn. Often they were of the form utilizing faceted rock crystal with a lock of his hair, his image or initials underneath. This style influenced jewelry and transformed it into a type of memorial and sentimental wearable tribute for the populace as well. Sometimes termed Jacobite jewelry, followers and loyalists to James II were referred to as Jacobites. Jewels of rock crystal were found throughout the late 1600s and even into the early to mid 18th century.
This is a Stuart crystal made into a brooch. Rectangular in shape, it is high carat incised gold, holding faceted and beveled rock crystal. Under the crystal is a bed of bright pink foiling. Atop this is a mat of finely woven hair, so fine it is hard to detect without strong magnification. Above that is a miniature gold wire cypher of initials. On the back are engraved the initials, “W.B.” and “died 1681". Quite an early dated example this is a pleasure to fine, especially in this condition. Evidence of an old alternation, there appears to have been a type of hinge or catch now soldered closed and a later, but still early tube hinge, base metal pin and C clasp added. This evidently was converted from another type of jewelry.
In very good condition with the crystal very fine, its border of crimped cut down setting tight and clean; the interior is very fine. Alteration to a former hinge or inner area, later but early pin mechanism. Certainly this was worn and cherished, meant to keep alive the memory of one passed long ago, a timeless memento mori and token of love.