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Fantastic Tortoise Shell Locket Chain


In the later part of the 19th century natural materials, such as bone, jet, ivory and tortoise shell were favored by the Victorians. As a more interesting contrast to the machine produced jewelry part findings (O fittings, pin mechanisms and small parts of a piece of jewelry) and metal work, the artisans of this era used these types of organic materials in creative ways to produce a variety of stylistic jewelry.

Making a dramatic visual statement when worn, this large and impressive natural tortoise shell necklace and locket is all original and all tortoise shell. With a texture as smooth as silk and its beautiful array of deep and rich colors of dark coco to burnt sienna, this material makes for a most fantastic showpiece. Versatile as it is original, this antique necklace can be worn in two different ways as displayed in the photos.

The superb chain is constructed of thirteen diamond shapes of finely detailed scroll and flourish open work. The pierced open panels are connected by elongated oval fittings and conclude with a tortoise shell hook on one end and a natural tortoise shell locket on the other. Opening and closing securely, the hinged locket opens to reveal a compartment with its original rim and early plastic cover. Original to the chain, it is attached via a metal pin placed through the tortoise shell to secure the link. If desired, the locket can be removed by cutting the “O” fitting of the piece.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: Chain is 24-1/4 inches (61.6 cm) in length not including the locket. Locket is less than 2-1/8 inches (5.1 cm) in height including ¼ of an inch (0.6 cm) top “O” fitting by 1-1/2 inches (3.8 cm) in width by ½ of an inch (1.3 cm) in thickness. Together the locket and chain weigh 35.5 grams.

Condition: Very good to excellent; chain and hook are excellent; one minute loss to the end of a scroll. Locket has a bit of minor surface wear; three spots where it almost appears to be small water spots.

Date: 1870 – 1880

Origin: Most likely English

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