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Scarce Victorian Archaeological Revival Earrings

Item 11644

Most often we assign a specific archaeological ancestor to revivalist jewelry. However, there are occasions when a piece becomes a “pasticcio” or an assemblage of several different ones.

Very scarce, this superb example of 19th century archaeological revivalism earrings fits the later case. It is typically referred to as classical revival (as in Etruscan, Greek and Hellenistic) because of the characteristic applied gold wire and beadwork. In reality, the motifs employed here may be attributed to several ancient civilizations.

Rendered in 18k yellow gold, four elements comprise this pair of antique earrings. The original surmount is the head of a ram from which is suspended a triangular form ornamented with decorative beadwork. The ram’s head has been traditionally associated with ancient Greece and the triangle shape with ancient Rome. Contrary to popular belief, the ram’s head is based upon an ancient Assyrian motif co-opted by the ancient Egyptians in the form of the creator god Amun-Ra always depicted with the head of a ram. Within this triangle form is an elongated inner dangle drop. Attached to the triangle is an amphora, a shape derived from the ancient Greco two-handled urn with a tapered base. High relief corded wirework appoints the urn as decorative gold scrollwork defines the handles.

Etruria (home of the Etruscans), Rome, Greece or Egypt—what truly matters is that the jewelers of the Victorian era did indeed, pay homage to the magnificent artisans of eons past with their own interpretation and realization of wonderful jewelry creations.

Condition: Very good to excellent; one small indention on inner teardrop dangle of one earrings; on the same earrings one indention just under the ram's head on the orb.

Measurements: 2-1/2 inches (6.3 cm) in total length including ear wires by 11/16 of an inch (1.7 cm) in width by 7/16 of an inch (1.1 cm) at the deepest. This pair of antique earrings has a weight of 10.3 grams (6.7 dwt).

Date & Origin: Circa 1860 and is most likely English in origin.

Overall Scale: Long and large