Victorian Dog Essex Crystal Pendant
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We at The Three Graces all have a soft spot in our hearts for our four-footed friends. Although we may not have the final lineup that Westminster Kennel Club dog show has to offer, we indeed have our own best of show. Consequently, it may come as no surprise that those little treasures known as Essex crystals are among are favorites.
Although the exact origins of the Essex crystal are unknown, the form emerged around the mid 19th century. Dogs, cats, horses and sporting themes were a few of the more featured subjects. The skill and craftsmanship which was necessary to impart such lifelike realism was monumental. These little portrait miniatures are made by employing a series of techniques and steps. Initially, a piece of clear rock crystal is cut en cabochon, i.e. with a rounded and smooth dome shaped front and a flat back.
The motif is then carved in reverse or intaglio into the flat back to create that desired three-dimension trompe l’oeil effect. Next the image is hand- painted in painstaking detail so as to render an amazingly realistic representation. Finally, a thin backing such as mother-of-pearl was used to enhance the image and the crystal inset into a wide array of jewelry ranging from brooches to pendants to buttons.
This is a superb crystal of an English Staffordshire Terrier replete with a wide leather Victorian collar appointed with brass studs and D ring. The noble animal is depicted with lovely markings of red and white coloration and prick or upright ears. Intelligent eyes are focused directly on the viewer, waiting to respond immediately to any command. His indomitable courage, total reliability and highly affectionate nature make a perfect pet. The image is set against the typical mother-of-pearl backing and placed within a 15k yellow gold mounting with twisted rope border. This piece was originally a stickpin and transformed into this magnificent pendant.
Date: Circa 1880.
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Measurements: 1/2 of an inch (1.2 cm) in diameter and 3/16 of an inch (0.4 cm) in width. Weight of 3.9 grams (2.5 dwt).
Condition: Excellent; converted from a stickpin.
Origin: Most likely English.
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