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Riker Bros. Enameled Dragonfly Brooch


The insect motif was one of the more whimsical and organic forms represented in Art Nouveau. Differing from the realistic portrayals of the Victorian years, these likenesses hover on the edge of fantasy and illusion often transforming a seemingly “mundane” bug into a sensuous and exotically beautiful composition.

This 14k yellow gold dragonfly brooch and watch hanger illustrates how its essence and fluttering wings were morphed into an object of sensual beauty. Fluid gold work prevails with rich enamels anointing the wings with colors of teal, indigo blue and hints of yellow and a series of tiny half seed pearls along the top edges.

A pair of ruby eyes and two diamonds placed upon the thorax accent the segmented abdomen. Textured legs add just another touch of visual interest to a piece already rife with dynamism and allure. Please note the large loop fitting on the underside which can hang a pearl or other type of drop if so desired.

For an almost exact example see page 109 in the reference book on American Jewelry "The Glitter and the Gold" from the Newark Museum.

Date: Circa 1905.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length by 1-1/4 of an inch (3.1 cm) in width. Weight of 5.1 grams (3.3 dwt).

Hallmarks: 14k; Riker mark.

Condition: Excellent; one tiny pearl replaced and 3 minute areas of enamel wear (all virtually invisible to the eye).

Origin: American.

Historical Notes: In 1801 this small collection of Newark manufacturing firms launched the well known slogan “Made-in-America”. Dreamy and symbolic, American Art Nouveau style was perhaps personified by the artisans of the Newark network of jewelry design and manufacturing. One of the core members of this group was the Riker Brothers firm which greatly added to developing this city into the jewelry manufacturing capital of America. Having achieved a reputation for its griffon and dragon motif brooches, Riker Brothers offered these and similar adornments in a variety of sizes and manifestations. Their detailing, texturing and modeling was on par with the finest from Tiffany & Co. and Marcus & Co.

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