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Symbolic Tortoiseshell Cannetille Pendant Brooch


A good deal of the romance and symbolism attributed to the 19th century is personified in this fantastic early Victorian pendant brooch. Quite substantial in size, the favored medium of natural tortoiseshell serves as the foundation for this magnificent jewel.

An articulated three-element design combines the love of natural materials with the imagery of the age of romanticism. A four-leafed clover of natural tortoiseshell, declaring its message of “be mine”, is enrobed with 18k yellow gold cannetille work of floral motifs.

An intricate central flower form of four rows of gold wire work petals enclose a coiled wire surround enfolding a luminous natural pearl. Smaller gold flowers appointed with cabochons of turquoise or pearls are scattered across the surface and connect through trails of golden vines. Turquoise was synonymous for “keep me in your memory” and pearls stood for love and tears.

The middle element, a dangle of a gold Maltese cross (a mainstay of the jewelry designs of this era that remained popular throughout the decades) is attached by simple gold link chain and “O” rings. From this suspends a beautiful heart of tortoiseshell anointed with swirls of gold and a simple golden orb. In contrast to the overall sophistication of the piece is the rather naive pin base and mechanism of which the pin stem is metal.

The message is clear…“Be mine, keep me in your memory forever; you have my love for always”.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 6-1/2 inches (16.5 cm) in length by 2-1/4 inches (5.8 cm) in width by 3/8 of an inch (0.7 cm) in depth. Weight of 12.7 grams (8.2 dwt).

Condition: Excellent; one chain is a tad bit longer than the other.

Date & Origin: Circa 1830 - 1840 and is English in origin.

Overall Scale: Very large

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