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Iberian Love Jewel: 18th C. Emerald Pendant

Item 10999

Superb and rare, the construction of this late 18th century antique pendant is typical of this period. The robin’s egg blue enamel plaque is set within filigree and granulation of high carat yellow gold and surrounded by rich deep green flat cut emeralds set in closed settings with rub over box plain bezels and natural pearls positioned with individually tipped wires. The larger emeralds and pearl clusters set among the swirling gold openwork of scrolled foliage are held in place with split pins of gold. All hand worked and set, the pendant is exquisite.

A symbolic love token, a central oval enamel plaque depicts a pair of quivers full of arrows which are crossed and then adorned with golden garlands. Used during the 17th and 18th centuries as a reference to Cupid or Eros (who continues to reign as a universal symbol of love as he has for eons), the crossed quivers are symbolic of the joining of two lovers.

Measurements: 1 7/8 inches (4.8 cm) in length by just under 1 1/2 inches (3.7 cm) wide and just over 1/4 of an inch (.8 cm) thick. Weighs 13.6 g.

Hallmarks: Two marks on the reverse; now worn and indecipherable (see photos).

Condition: Very good; many gold bezels of the emeralds out of shape; some wear to several emeralds, one chipped; light wear overall. Several small pearls replaced; possibility of a few emeralds replaced over the centuries. Enamel is lovely and overall is very fine.

Date & Origin: Circa 1750; most likely Spanish or Portuguese in origin.

Historical Notes: Emeralds were flowing into the Iberian Peninsula from newly discovered mines in South America. In 1545, the deep Columbian emeralds were mined and the finest emeralds still known today came from this region. These influxes of new gems changed jewelry design forever and jewelry became more about gems and their color and brilliance with metal work and enamel more as the backdrop.