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Victorian Pietra Dura Pendant Locket


The ancient technique of pietra dura was revived in Italy in the sixteenth century and subsequently spread through Europe. Pieces of variously shaped and colored marbles as well as precious and semi-precious stones were inlaid and placed into patterns on vases, furniture and jewelry. Landscapes and even portraits were sometimes rendered using this technique.

According to jewelry expert Christie Romero, a bed of black marble was used as the foundation for these Florentine hardstone mosaics which usually displayed floral motifs. Frequently purchased unmounted by wealthy Victorian era tourists on holiday or tour and brought back to Paris or London where they were transformed into jewelry such as the locket presented here.

A pietra dura mosaic of a bouquet of flowers and leaves is displayed in vivid color and detail against a background of black marble. Open and budded snowdrops of glistening white join violets of turquoise blue as a backdrop for a rose in the process of blooming, unfolding in a variety of pinks. The green stems and leaves are rendered in such a manner that even the veins are apparent.

A fine silver and rose gold frame surrounds the piece. Fantastically constructed of reeded and banded silver and accented with gorgeous appointments of rose gold. The reverse reveals a locket back with compartment currently lined with velvet fabric of maroon. The ribbon is modern and is easily removed or replaced with a ribbon with sterling silver ends.

Date: Circa 1860.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 2-3/4 inches (6.8 cm) in length by 1-1/4 inches (3.2 cm) in width. Locket compartment is 1-9/16 inches (3.8 cm) in length by 1-1/8 inches (2.7 cm) in width by 1/8 of an inch (0.3 cm) in depth. Ribbon is 15-3/4 inches (40 cm) at the longest. This antique locket has a weigh of 22.4 grams (14.4 dwt) not including the ribbon.

Condition: Excellent; ribbon has a few tiny holes in the center from the bale behind the pendant; this can be replaced, brooch fitting is later.

Origin: Italian.

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