Early 18th C. Portuguese Diamond Brooch
Here is a magnificent display of artisanship fabricated in rich high carat yellow gold and set with twenty-four (24) rose cut diamonds. Hand cut, the gems are uneven in shape and form as one would want. The larger stones are approximately 4 mm by 4 mm and 5 mm by 3 mm. The rest are accent gems. They appear dark due to the characteristic closed back and foiled setting. The diamonds are placed in domed settings with rub over gold work typical of the period.
The brooch is grandeur in 20k yellow gold, resplendent in lacy and delicate openwork of hand worked, sawn and finished baroque scrolls, flowers, hearts and spirals. Grand in style, breathtaking in the color of gold only time can bring. All this rallies around the bow motif with floral designs and a removable bottom drop as light plays off the curved and scrolling surfaces and dances on the edges of each lacy spiral of antique gold. The reverse has lovely engraving and detail work.
For almost exact examples please see pages 65 and 66 of "Five Centuries of Jewellery" from the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon. The museum dates one of these pieces to 1760 – 1780 and the other to 1784 – 1794. This brooch could be earlier or of the same time period as this style was crafted during most of that century albeit its fluidity of design could date it to later in the century.
Condition: Very good excellent for the front with one of the smallest rose cut diamonds replaced; very good for the reverse with a later date brooch fitting. The fittings of the removable bottom drop have been replaced (visible under magnification) with more modern ones.
Measurements: 2-1/4 inches (5.7 cm) in length by 2 inches (5.1 cm) at the widest. This antique brooch has a weight of 12.5 grams.
Date & Origin: Mid 18th century; Portuguese in origin, possibly from the Oporto region.
This brooch may have been a pendant and, if so desired, we can have our jewelers fashion a loop on the back to wear as a pendant.
Note: All diamond weights are approximate since the stones were not removed from their mounts to preserve the integrity of the setting.
Historical Notes: Portuguese metalsmiths exceeded in crafting exquisite jewelry. Gold was uncovered in Brazil in the late 1600s and poured into Portugal years before precious gems. Consequently, these craftsmen became adept at working gold into delicate ribbons, leaves, scrolls and floral forms. It was only later that diamonds and colored stones were included yet seldom dominated the jewelry.