Amazing Antique Carved Moonstone Pendant Locket
Cameos and carved stones were very much integrated into Victorian jewelry. This amazing example from the later decades of the 19th century demonstrates the level of carving mastery that could be achieved.
Classical themes and myths greatly inspired the jewelers of the 19th century. One of the more interesting aspects of that influence was in how the image of the Gorgon Medusa was represented. We associated Medusa with a head full of snakes, frightening and horrible…oddly enough the manner in which she was displayed in HRH Queen Victoria’s reign humanized her as a beautiful woman with no curling serpent coiling about her coif, although sometimes wearing a snake about her neck.
Here is Medusa in left profile, classically carved in moonstone with fine details of eyes lidded, lips closed about her mouth, a truly despondent expression upon her face and framed with tendrils of hair, flanked by folded wings on both sides. Originally Medusa was depicted as a horse with wings, then as a woman with equine hindquarters and eventually as a woman with wings in her hair.
The fine moonstone carving is set upon an 18k yellow gold pendant surrounded by a corona of natural blue sapphires and old mine cut diamonds each in gorgeous crown settings of yellow gold. Alternating, eight (8) old mine cut diamonds (each approximately 15 points) of about 1.2 carats, color range of H-K and clarity range SI1-SI2 are paired with eight (8) bluer than blue faceted sapphires (about 17 to 20 points apiece) for a total estimated weight of 1.4 to 1.5 carats.
The reverse reveals a locket back engraved with the ornate script initials “E M” and a compartment in which to secure a photo, curl of hair or any small keepsake. Adorning the pendant is a lovely antique chain of 9k yellow gold.
Measurements: 14-1/2 inches (36.9 cm) in total length; pendant has a diameter of 1 inch (2.6 cm). Weight of 15.7 grams (10.1 dwt).
Date: Circa 1890
Overall Scale: Medium
Note: All diamond and gemstone weights, color grades and clarity are approximate as the stones have not been removed in order to preserve the integrity of the setting.
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